Laura Gibbs’ The Fool Carries the Plow*

Posted by jlubans on February 14, 2021

Caption: Homer thinks the weekly meeting is the GOAT!

There was a peasant who had been plowing all day. By day's end both the peasant and his donkey were exhausted.
The peasant was a good-hearted fellow, so when he saw how tired his donkey was, he took pity on the poor beast. "I need you to carry me home, dear donkey," said the peasant, "but I don't want you to have to carry the plow too."
So, the good-hearted fool picked up the heavy plow, put it on his shoulders, and then mounted the donkey.
"I'll carry the plow," he said to the donkey, "and you can carry me."
The 1692 version’s Moral: “Some Brute Animals, have more understanding then some Men.”
Surely this bit of jumbled thinking was a joke but it serves as a lesson to all who seek to alleviate what they believe is someone’s suffering by aggravating their misery.
For example, I worked in an organization in which many (not all) employees complained of too many meetings – they, the complainers, hated giving up time – they wanted that time back to do their work – something they enjoyed and believed to be important to the organizational mission.
One of the least productive meetings was a mandatory weekly get together. It was largely information sharing rather than decision making.
Usually from start to finish the meeting, attended by 45 people, lasted for 75 minutes. In other words, the organization spent close to 60 hours in non-work in that one gathering!
The executives who ran the meeting – often giving self-congratulatory reports on organizational achievements in their bailiwicks - came up with the solution: donuts, bagels and coffee!
Instead of hearing how many employees considered meetings as unproductive and leading the way to shutting down the most wasteful, they kept the status quo but did add donuts.
And, instead of letting everyone know that meetings were to be used sparingly and only with a real purpose that resulted in something substantial – an improvement! - the executives added bagels with three types of cream cheese.
Now, besides wasting their most productive employees’ time they were adding to their caloric intake, many of whom were tending - from all that sitting - toward the pleasingly plump.

*Source: A Laura Gibbs’ 100-Word microfable. This is her rendition of “A Man that Carried his Plough to Ease his Oxen”, one of the Fables found in “Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists with Morals and Reflections by Roger L'Estrange”, 1692.

© Copyright all text John Lubans 2021
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