Friday Fable. Aesop’s The Widow and Her Little Maidens*

Posted by jlubans on December 30, 2016

Caption. Illustration by Walter Crane, in his “Baby’s Own Aesop”. 1887, page 16.

“A WIDOW who was fond of cleaning had two little maidens to wait on her. She was in the habit of waking them early in the morning, at cockcrow. The maidens, aggravated by such excessive labor, resolved to kill the cock who roused their mistress so early. When they had done this, they found that they had only prepared for themselves greater troubles, for their mistress, no longer hearing the hour from the cock, woke them up to their work in the middle of the night.”
What’s the Moral? Just in time for the making of New Year's resolutions, Crane's is “Laziness is its own punishment.”
Sometimes when we exchange the predictable for the uncertain we can complicate our otherwise simple lives.
At work, we may stop doing some procedure –which is inconvenient and boring - but once absent we see our mistake. Without that procedure, we accomplish less and satisfy fewer customers.
So, maybe the lazy maids should have thought through what could happen once the source of their misery was gone; had they, they might have spared the rooster.
That said; do not hesitate to eliminate redundant checking of other people’s work (in some ways what the mistress does to the maids). Nothing is gained by it – no real work gets done, time is lost and workers are infantilized.

*Source: FABLES By Aesop Translated by George Fyler Townsend (probably from this edition): “Three hundred and fifty Aesop’s fables”. Chicago, Belford, Clarke & Co., 1886. Available at the Gutenberg Project.

Copyright © John Lubans 2016
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