Friday Fable. Faernus’ “THE MILLER, HIS SON AND THEIR ASS”*

Posted by jlubans on October 06, 2017

“A MILLER and his Son were driving their Ass to a neighbouring fair to sell him. They had not gone far when they met with a troop of girls returning from the town, talking and laughing.
“Look there!" cried one of them, "did you ever see such fools, to be trudging along the road on foot, when they might be riding!"
The old Man, hearing this, quietly bade his Son get on the Ass, and walked along merrily by the side of him. Presently they came up to a group of old men in earnest debate.
"There!" said one of them, "it proves what I was a-saying. What respect is shown to old age in these days? Do you see that idle young rogue riding, while his old father has to walk?—
Get down, you scapegrace! and let the old Man rest his weary limbs."
Upon this the Father made his Son dismount, and got up himself. In this manner they had not proceeded far when they met a company of women and children.
"Why, you lazy old fellow!" cried several tongues at once, "how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad can hardly keep pace by the side of you.
The good-natured Miller stood corrected, and immediately took up his Son behind him. They had now almost reached the town. "Pray, honest friend," said a townsman, "is that Ass your own?"
"Yes," says the old Man. "0! One would not have thought so," said the other, "by the way you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the poor beast than he you!"
"Anything to please you," said the old Man; "we can but try." So, alighting with his Son, they tied the Ass's legs together, and by the help of a pole endeavoured to carry him on their shoulders over a bridge that led to the town. This was so entertaining a sight that the people ran out in crowds to laugh at it; till the Ass, not liking the noise nor his situation, kicked asunder the cords that bound him, and, tumbling off the pole, fell into the river.
Upon this the old Man, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way home again—convinced that by endeavouring to please everybody he had pleased nobody, and lost his Ass into the bargain.”
And so it can be in the office, when we find ourselves caught between factions and too willing to go along to get along.
A workmate of mine would agree to a mutual decision with me and then, encountering resistance he would backtrack.
This happened regularly and it led to an unhappy workplace relationship, and to a perceived weak leadership. “By endeavouring to please everybody he had pleased nobody.”
I suppose it came down to a lack of self-confidence on his part. Of course, as any workplace expert would advise, I should have had a frank talk with him; instead I avoided the unpleasantness and doing so make me complicit in this imbroglio.

*Source: Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.
Faernus, an Italian poet, (Gabriele Faerno) was born in 1510 and died in 1561.

Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
Or, Amazon

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

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