Story 2: The Fox and the Grapes (No Escape)
Circa 2008 AD – Any City, Global Economy
It was the summer of 2008. A young man in his twenties wandered the streets of Any-City in search of a job. Albee Fox or “The Fox”, as his friends called him had recently graduated with a college degree and ended up with enormous student loans. “The Fox” was in debt even before he had earned his first pay-check.
Today “The Fox” was feeling tired. He wanted to resign from the world; and then he saw a young-man whizz past him on a brand new motorbike, and another busy texting on the latest smart-phone. Albee He did not have these things. He felt like a loser. And a “loser” was the “leper” of the new economy. Little did Albee “The Fox” know how these young men paid for those expensive gadgets– and neither did Albee ask because in the new global economy the youth followed a policy of “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” when it came to expensive gadgets. It did not matter where the gadgets came from as long as you had one.
Sweat dripping from his brows, hungry and jobless, “The Fox’s” came to an intersection and a shiny mall with glittering shop windows across the street caught his eye. He crossed the street and stared at the shop–windows. The smart phones, the laptops, the watches, the perfumes in all those shop windows looked alluring – exactly like delicious bunches of grapes? “The Fox” found himself salivating. He desperately wanted everything in those shop-windows because these things would proclaim to the world that “The Fox” was not a loser. But then, he remembered; he had no job, no money.
Helpless and angry, he almost uttered loudly: Who wants these things? These are useless anyway! And then he stopped himself because a fable flashed in front of his eyes. As a child he had read “The Fox and The Grapes” – the story of a hungry fox who saw a delicious bunch of grapes hanging from a high branch; but gave up too easily because he could not jump and reach them. And not only did the fox in the fable give up; on his way out of the orchard he proclaimed that the grapes were sour.
Our hero Albee “The Fox” had learnt from childhood that one could not equate one’s inability to purchase an expensive object with the notion that the very object one desires is bad – is sour. If everyone who could not pay for things thought that all these consumer goods were sour then the entire global economy would crumble. Not only was the fox in the fable wrong, he was also a loser. And a “loser” was the “leper” of the new economy.
Albee “The Fox” resolved he would jump as long as required until one day he owned all these things he saw in the shop window. However, he could not shake off this feeling of powerlessness – he could almost touch the grapes but could not take them home. Paralyzed, “The Fox” stood still staring at the shop-window.
And then a mysterious man with a flyer approached him bearing the amazing gift of pre-approved credit. The man promised “The Fox” he did not have to worry about jumping for those grapes anymore. The grapes would come to him. “The Fox” filled some forms, signed some sheets, punched some numbers into a hand-held gadget, posed for a photograph, and within seconds “The Fox” got his magical credit card. The mystery man said it’s all so easy when the client is educated; especially if (s)he has a college degree.
Albee “The Fox” happily ran into the mall with his shiny new credit card. He immediately purchased smart-phones, tabs, i-pads, i-pods, laptops, games and software. Then he saw a poster that said: Smart phones need smart wear. So “The Fox” purchased all different types of clothing – from innerwear to sportswear and formalwear. And just buying clothes was not enough anymore; so “The Fox” accessorized with expensive shoes, ties, belts, wallets, watches. With more bags than his fingers could handle, “The Fox” wondered how he would carry them out; and a car salesman sold him a car with an extra-large trunk with a promptly processed pre-approved car loan.
“The Fox” thought: Where will I keep all this stuff including the car I just bought? But he did not have to wonder for long –these new global-economy salesmen were mind-readers. Before he had stepped out of the mall, they had sold him a house with a garage to keep all his stuff and park his car. “The Fox” simply signed some home-loan papers. His college degree seemed useful in procuring loans; and “The Fox” enjoyed signing those papers. It made him feel important.
And without jumping even once our modern-day “Fox” had every grape he desired –– and a house where he could keep all those shiny, new things — including his education loans, car loans, house loans and credit card loans.
This was the new economy. If the grapes you desired were on a branch that you could not reach, the financial institutions would credit those grapes to you anyway.
The summer of splashing around in credit soon came to an end with the great Fall of 2008. The global economy fell apart. What started as a financial crisis in 2007 became the Great Recession of 2008 affecting many countries around the world.
The Fox still remembers the morning; he was sleeping when all the loans came crashing down inside the house, forcing him to abandon it. The headlines screamed about the great, big global recession that was created by banks’ lending money to those who did not have the capacity to repay them.
An entire culture that had been built around never being like the fox in the fable – never calling things that were out of reach as sour and simply charging things to credit – was now reeling under a recession. The credit institutions had forcibly bent the tree to make the grapes available. And when the tree was bent too far, it crashed, and also brought the entire orchard down with it.
As for the people… they had forgotten how to jump.
And they were very indignant… and very very SOUR.
Story 1: The Fox and The Grapes
(Circa 550 BC – Greece)
Once upon a time, on a hot summer afternoon, a hungry fox was looking for food. The fox could not find anything; the foliage was dry and the forest empty as all the animals were hiding deep inside their caves and crevices trying to stay cool. The fox was getting hungrier by the minute. In his desperation, he stepped outside the forest and entered the area (bordering the forest) where the local villagers had their farms, orchards, and vineyards. The heat was intense, the farms and orchards were empty too as none of the famers wanted to be out in the sun. The fox had almost given up when the aroma of ripe grapes wafted from one of the vineyards. The fox was irresistibly drawn towards them. The fox saw one last bunch of delicious grapes hanging from a branch. The juices in his stomach were flowing faster in anticipation.
The fox jumped up. However, he could not reach the grapes. They were on a high branch. The fox was a bit upset, but he jumped again and still could not reach them. He looked at his paws. His paws were close but not quite where it should have been – on the grapes. The fox jumped again and swiped his paws in the air. But still could not touch the grapes. This time the fox looked at his paws and then scratched his head. He made some quick mental measurements, and then counted as he took a few steps back, took a running start and jumped again. Of course he jumped higher this time, but still could not touch the grapes. The fox was feeling giddy and faint by this time. He was hypoglycaemic, but despite the churning in his stomach and the turning motions in his head, the fox tried, again and again, but to no avail. He just could not jump high enough to grab that juicy bunch of grapes.
Finally, tired and hungry, the fox gave up and walked back towards the forest. He turned around, looked at those grapes one last time, and said: “I am sure those grapes are sour.”
No one told the fox that he was a loser to give up so easily and nor did anyone sell him a credit card to get those grapes without jumping.
© Para-Babel, 2013
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