Friday Fable. Sir Roger L'Estrange’s “AN ANT FORMERLY A MAN”*

Posted by jlubans on October 21, 2016

Caption: Jupiter’s Ant, still filching.

“The Ant, or Pismire, was formerly a Husband-man, that secretly Filch'd away his Neighbour's Goods and Corn, and stor'd up all in his own Barn. He drew a General Curse upon his Head for't, and Jupiter as a Punishment, and for the Credit of Mankind, turn'd him into a Pismire; but this Change of Shape wrought no Alteration, either of Mind, or of Manners; for he keeps the same Humour and Nature to this very Day.”

“THE MORAL. That which Some call Good Husbandry, Industry and Providence, Others call Raking, Avarice, and Oppression: So that the Vertue and the Vice, in many Cases, are hardly Distinguishable but by the Name.”

Once more, we meet our friend the ant.
This time in a far less favorable light than the industrious ants in the illustration; they, of course, slam the door on the fiddling grasshopper, leaving him to perish in the wintry wind.
And, so it can be at work. How?
There’s the manager who knows all the rules and reasons not to break them (a form of Raking, if you will) vs. someone who cares less for rules than assuring customers are well served.
Colleen C. Barrett, President Emeritus at Southwest, calls this “leaning toward the customer” vs. leaning away. She told me she was much more likely to forgive a mistake when the agent was leaning toward the customer. Saying that, Colleen was giving permission to break rules when a situation required it – to do what was right - rather than maintaining the rules no matter what.
How many times have I run into workers who have a great idea for improving their work but it is denied because the idea challenges the “way we’ve always done it”? Hence, “the Vertue and the Vice, in many Cases, are hardly Distinguishable”.

*Source: Aesop’s Fables translated by Sir Roger L'Estrange, 1692.

© Copyright John Lubans 2016
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