The Watering Hole: Wednesday, December 21, 2011: Happy Solstice!

The Business Man and His Three Employees

a modern parable


Briseadh na Faire

The Teacher sat in the tall grass near a quiet river, facing his small group of young students. “Tell us about Heaven” one of them said. “Yes. Yes. Tell us about Heaven” the group chimed in eager unison.

The Teacher looked at his young charges and began.

“Heaven is like, well, it’s a lot like here” he began. “Take a business man. He’s successful. He runs the show. Everyone must do exactly what he wants, or they’ll be fired, tossed out on the street.”

“So, one day, there’s this business man, and he’s going away on a long trip.”

“To China?” a boy interrupted. “My daddy goes to Chinaa lot. He says it’s for business. Mommy says he has a Chinese mistress.”

“What’s a mistress” another boy asked.

“It’s like a second mommy” a girl asserted, “one your real mommy doesn’t like very much.”

“Ok” the Teacher brought his charges back to paying attention again “to China. And he calls in three of his top employees. To the first one, he gives a stack of ten thousand-dollar bills. ‘I want you to take care of this. It’s ten thousand dollars, and I’ll want a strict accounting when I get back.’ To the second he gave five thousand dollars, and to the third, a thousand dollars, each with the same warning.”

“Then the business man went off on his trip. A year later, he returned.”

“Did he bring any presents?” the first boy interrupted again. “My daddy always brings me presents when he comes back from China.”

“No” the Teacher said, with a patient sigh, “he didn’t bring any presents. But he did call his three employees into his office that very morning. ‘Well,’ he said to his employees, ‘What have you done with my money?’ ”

“The first stepped forward, ‘I took your ten thousand dollars and invested it in the stock market. My picks paid off, and I doubled your money. Here’s your ten thousand, plus ten thousand more.'”

“‘Well done!’ the executive said, ‘You’ve proven yourself with this small amount, so now I’ll promote you to Vice President in charge of our company’s entire stock portfolio.'”

“The second employee, the one with five thousand dollars, stepped forward. ‘I took your five thousand dollars and invested it with a limited liability partnership’…”

“What’s that?” the girl interrupted.

“It’s a kind of business” the first boy responded authoritatively. The girl turned her head back to the Teacher.

“As I was saying” the Teacher continued, “the second employee told the business man, “I invested your five thousand dollars in a partnership that bought up struggling or failing companies and turned them around. I doubled your money while you were gone. Here’s your five thousand, and five thousand more.’ ”

“‘Well done!’ the executive said, ‘You’ve proven yourself with this small amount, so now I’ll promote you to Vice President in charge of our company’s mergers and acquisitions division.’ With that, the first two employees gave each other a high-five.”

“Then the third employee stepped forward and handed his boss an envelope containing the same one-thousand dollars he had been entrusted with. ‘Boss,’ he said, ‘I know you’re a hard man. You profit by raiding other company’s assets and short-selling stocks you don’t own. I cannot profit off of other people’s labors like that, so I put your money in the office safe. Here. Here’s the same thousand dollars you gave me when you left.’ ”

“And with that, the third employee stepped back. The boss grew apoplectic.”

“Huh?!?” the children gasped.

“Purple with anger” the Teacher responded.


“My daddy gets apoplectic whenever I don’t do my chores” a boy remarked, proudly adding his new vocabulary word into use.

“Go on!” the girl urged.

“The boss was apoplectic. He stepped towards the third employee, who shrank back in fear. ‘You! You know about my, shall we say, less than honorable business practices, do you?’ The employee nodded, ‘yes.’ ‘But instead of putting my money in the bank, where at least I could have gotten honest interest, you put it in the safe all this time. Again the employee nodded ‘yes’. ‘Get out of here!’ the boss yelled. ‘You’re fired!’ ‘Security,’ the boss pounded the intercom, ‘escort this man out to the street!’ The boss then took the thousand dollars and gave it to the man who had the ten-thousand dollars. ‘Let this be known, that for as long as I am in charge, those who have the most, will be given the most.”

The children sat silent for awhile, pondering the story. Then, the girl stood up and walked to the Teacher.

“So…” she began, “if Heaven is like here, then God is the boss, and the employees are…us.”

“Yes” the Teacher affirmed.

“Then…” she hesitated, “God is a mean, rotten, no-good man.”

The Teacher’s head recoiled.

“God does evil things to take things away from people. He ruins businesses and puts people out of work. The one guy who stood up to him got fired. Just like what happens here, like what happened to my dad when he blew the whistle on his company.”

Now the Teacher sat, stunned. He hadn’t seen the lesson the way the girl had seen it. He had always thought the lesson was about using the gifts you had and multiplying them, or not using them, and losing what gifts were given.

The Teacher put his hands on the girl’s shoulders. “You know what?” he asked. “You’re right. I learned this story a long time ago, and I always thought it was about what the three employees did, not about what the boss did.”

“Well,” said the girl, “I guess we all need to see the story from all points of view.”

And the Teacher learned from the student.

© 2011 Briseadh na Faire

This is our open thread. We are all, at some point in our lives, teachers. We are all, at other points, students. What have you learned from your teachers? What have you learned from your students?

147 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: Wednesday, December 21, 2011: Happy Solstice!

  1. The Parable of the Talents, beloved by folks who take the money part literally. I see the last servant as one who is given resources and merely hoards them, in the same way that the wealthy may hoard capital that should be working to benefit all society.
    Great thought provoking story this morning BnF.
    I am fortunate to have a wonderful teacher in my son, who is incapable of feeling or understanding greed. I don’t think he can imagine wanting anything he does not need, and his needs are modest. I’m sure some parents might feel sorry for me as my child may not achieve success as they define it, but the little guy is the freest person I’ve ever known.

      • I think he came the way he is, and his interest in the bees is part of who he is. I maybe deserve a little credit for never telling him he should be anything other than who he is.
        Off to store up blood for surgery (ick)

  2. Lots of snow out there and more on the way. Obviously global warming is a hoax!

    Trying to sound like a gerbil. Ain’t easy! Referring to Ebb’s comment from last evening where she wrote:

    Have to admit never learning that “5 medium-sized gerbil penises equals one inch”.

    First thing that popped into my head when I read that this morning was a question: Since when have Republican gun owners been known as gerbils?

    • “let’s skip over the whole human-sacrifice thing”

      But, in a blend of old with new, millions of folks celebrate the birth of the last great human sacrifice, the son of a virgin, whose body and blood they symbolically consume in weekly rituals.

  3. Happy Solstice Day everyone!
    Good one, BnF…
    I found a pleasant group of pagans this week, we’re having a campfire this evening.
    One of my traditions is lighting the fire using a hand drill.

  4. She’s a vagabond toy poodle named May by SPCA staff after she fell out of the sky earlier this month and landed on the grounds of the Shorncliffe Nursing Home in Sechelt, B.C.

    And how she came to be flying over the nursing home is explained by the deep talon marks in her back and sides, showing she was probably the unwilling passenger of a hungry eagle that had picked her up but eventually found her 18 pounds too much to hold.

    • A friend of mine was traveling in Alaska and had just noticed an elderly couple standing next to their RV with their little yap dog. A large raptor swooped down and grabbed the dog and flew off with it. The old lady ran screaming after the bird but my friend swears that the old man did a happy “Yesssss” as the shrieking dog disappeared.

      I’ve also got a great story about an owl and a cat, but it will keep.

      • We have a similar syndrome here down here below I-10.
        Fluff puff dogs usually vanish alongside ponds and canals near healthy gator populations.

  5. Wayward puffin getting a lift back to Newfoundland

    MONTREAL — A Hudson, Que., woman has been playing host to a special guest — one that is desperately trying to get home.

    But it looks like the bird — a six-month old Atlantic puffin — is booked on a morning flight to Newfoundland on Thursday.

    The puffin has been paddling around the bathtub of Lindsay D’Aoust’s home since Dec. 15, the day it was found in downtown Montreal.

      • No. My project is moving off shore, but I have to baby sit the off shore team during the transition. At the end, I won’t be surprised if I’m laid off.

        But the process itself is horrible; sleazy; slimey; disgusting.

        Management lets them get away with things that I would never be allowed to do. Sloppiness; inaccuracies. All okay for them to do. And I’m the one who has to be the bad guy to find it all, report it, then I get accused of being the bottle neck; while management turns a blind eye.

        When (not if) the project crashes and burns, I’ll most likely be the one blamed for it; even though none of this was my idea.

        • “Management lets them get away with things that I would never be allowed to do. Sloppiness; inaccuracies. All okay for them to do. And I’m the one who has to be the bad guy to find it all, report it, then I get accused of being the bottle neck; while management turns a blind eye.”

          My husband comes home every day complaining of similar things. I think management just wants a bunch of cheerleaders to pretend everything is great, while they sweep issues under the rug and pray they’ll have moved on before the problems are discovered. I don’t think they really want honest professionals. I hope everything works out for you, but if lay off comes, maybe it will lead to a position that better uses your talents.

        • Sorry to hear it, zxbe. CYA as best you can and make sure the resume is up to date. With management like that, the company may be in more trouble than they are worth. Good luck.

        • Oh ZX, that’s usually how it’s done – they keep the offshored around long enough for the zombies to feed off your brain… I’ve seen them come for many of my friends that way. I’m sorry to hear.

  6. BnF reminded me of something I heard some years ago but it’s more of a joke than a parable.

    A guy falls in love with three women and can’t decide which one to marry so he gives each $5,000.00. The first buys clothes, cosmetics, and jewelry. He figures he could live with someone who wants to keep herself beautiful. The second buys him gifts and he figures he could live with a woman who thinks of him first. The third invests the $5,000.00 and doubles the money and he figures he could live with someone with business sense. So.. which one does he marry?

    A: The one with the biggest boobs.

    • Same here only mine is about a study on problem solving. They gave and engineer, a technician and a politician 3 1″ metal spheres and put them each in an empty room. They had 1 hour to do something with the balls. At the end of the hour the engineer had stacked them, one on top of the other. The technician had done the same but the stack was at a 45 degree angle. The politician had lost one, broke one and had the third in his pocket.

  7. QOTD:

    “I asked [Gingrich] if he’s elected, how does he plan to engage gay Americans. How are we to support him? And he told me to support Obama,” – Scott Arnold, university professor and Iowa voter.

    The GOP just wants to pretend gays don’t exists or they can be “saved” through “reparative therapy”. Newt wants his half-sister to just evaporate.

  8. pRick and Mitts now vying for the “loving husband” position:

    New <a href="″>Romney Ad Also Heavily Features Wife
    On the same day that Rick Perry releases a TV spot making heavy use of his wife, Mitt Romney also comes out with an ad featuring his own wife singing her husband’s praises.

  9. Here’s a great big rock that one can throw at a Reichwhiner for a host of subjects. General Republican dishonesty, obviously, but it might be best used when a Reichwhiner is blabbering about protecting fetuses. I would suggest that, when having that argument with a hypothetical Reichwhiner, one should provide this link and give said Reichwhiner a choice. They could utterly renounce this creep or take their faux concern for fetuses, fold it four ways, light it on fire, and ram it up their southern orifice.

  10. Totally off topic: I’ve been invited to a long time female friends casual Christmas eve get together, which will include much of her family and other friends. It’s not a sit down dinner, more of quick finger food and cocktails. Other than being asked to bring some beer, should I also bring her and her daughter each a gift????

  11. From the “I got nothin’, but I do love to carry on about it” file:

    Sarah Palin criticizes Obama holiday card — and the dog

    Palin told Fox News that she found it “odd” that the card emphasizes the dog instead of traditions like “family, faith and freedom.” She also said that Americans are able to appreciate “American foundational values illustrated and displayed on Christmas cards and on a Christmas tree.”

    I’m pretty sure the Palin Xmas card features a flag-decorated snow machine, a big plastic Jesus, something dead, and a knocked up kid.

  12. Ho, ho, ho!!!

    According to a local radio host, another Iowa preacher endorsed Newt though I didn’t catch the name. Apparently, his statement includes “a return of Christian values to the White House”.

    It’s a good thing that I’m not forced to associate with fundies. I’m afraid that my policy of pacifism when dealing with people would not suffice to keep me out of jail.

    • To these people, if you’re white and you say you’re tight with Jesus, than you’re tight with Jesus. How you actually behave means nothing as long as you mouth the right words.

  13. Forgive me if this story was covered up-thread. I’m on my way out and didn’t check.

    Not content to blame Dems for his own party’s vote against the payroll tax extension, Boner even cut the feed to C-span when the Dems tried to introduce the subject. The good news is that progressives are pulling the trigger on the GOoPers “voting for a tax hike”. But, will the “librul media” cover the story or just push the myth of false equivalency? Even McCain came out and said that the House GOoPers are damaging the party.

  14. Thank you Z.

    Did you learn anything about why you were not their choice for the job?

    I just learned my older sister is in an experimental leukemia treatment program at Johns Hopkins. The fucking longest night of the year no less.

    I’m guzzling beer and sipping Disaronno; Things are somewhat woozy.

  15. Well? I picked up a duck, wild rice, and all the ingredients for wassel (one of the few Christmas traditions I enjoy). It looks like just one of my single friends and a neighbor will be stopping by to watch the Vikings break our hearts while consuming waaaaay too much food and booze. That suits me because I prefer small groups and should have plenty of leftover duck and wild rice stuffing to fry up in a half a pound of butter later in the week. It’s another of those dishes, like most stews and soups, that’s actually better as leftovers. My only concern is that I haven’t been able to find any current jelly for my duck glaze. If I can’t track any down I can make it with dried currents but It takes a couple hours and the jelly browns more nicely.

      • Yeah. There’s a chain that caters to the 1% that I’ll check out but it would have meant a long bus ride that I wasn’t in the mood for. Then, when I got home, I remembered that there’s a cheese and sausage shop up the street that, as I recall, has all sorts of imported jams and jellies. Still, the local supermarket used to allways carry a few lonly jars of red currant jelly but they don’t even have a spot marked on the shelf any more and the young guy I asked seemed completely baffled. I might have bought the last one last year.

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