Posted by jlubans on May 18, 2018


Caption: The expiring pike as Admiral, by E. M. Rayev, 1961

A CONCEITED Pike took it into its head to exercise the functions of a cat. I do not know whether the Evil One had plagued it with envy, or whether, perhaps, it had grown tired of fishy fare ; but, at all events, it thought fit to ask the Cat to take it out to the chase, with the intention of catching a few mice in the warehouse.
But, my dear friend," Vaska (the cat) says to the Pike, " do you understand that kind of work? Take care, gossip, that you don't incur disgrace. It isn't without reason that they say, 'The work ought to be in the master's power.' "
"Why really, gossip, what a tremendous affair it is!
Mice, indeed ! Why, I have been in the habit of catching perches! "
" Oh, very well. Come along!"
They went; they lay each in ambush.
The Cat thoroughly enjoyed itself; made a hearty meal; then went to look after its comrade.
Alas! the Pike, almost destitute of life, lay there gasping, its tail nibbled away by the mice.
So the Cat, seeing that its comrade had undertaken a task quite beyond its strength, dragged it back, half dead, to its pond.
The Pike, we are told, represents Admiral Tchichakof, who was inexplicably put in charge of army troops to prevent Napoleon’s escape from Russia. Tchichakof, a fish out of water so to speak, was surprised by the French soldiers and Napoleon eluded capture.
Sometimes, not always, the people who know what they are doing should be left alone to do their job.
But, then there are those times when the experts are stuck like so many sticks in the mud and an outsider can make things happen.
That happy outcome depends fully on the outsider’s getting the full support of the troops, of the staff doing the work. In Krylov’s fable, Tchichakof being a prickly sort with British mannerisms was not one to rally the troops.
So he goes down in history as a failure.
But, I have to return to one of my most frequent questions when faced with a failed employee.
Who hired him? Does not that person or committee share the blame?

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869

© Copyright John Lubans 2018
« Prev itemNext item »


No comments yet. You can be the first!

Leave comment