This is Project #1 from the Storytelling manual. The speech objective is to tell a folk tale. The manual lists as examples The Three Billy-Goats Gruff, and Hansel and Gretel. I’m going to raise the bar in this speech and tell you an original story. First of all, I must qualify “original”. Admittedly I haven’t read all of Aesop’s Fables, so it is possible that one of them may contain a similar message. However, I came up with this story idea on my own, and without any outside influences – with the possible exception of Seinfeld. :o)
This is the story of two people – Jerry and George. They lived in the same apartment building, and despite their striking differences in personality, they were good friends.
Jerry was friendly, gregarious and very generous with his time, money and possessions. George on the other hand, was a more nefarious character; he was introverted, decidedly self-centred, and miserly. Jerry would often have friends over to his apartment, and if a friend admired something of Jerry’s, Jerry wouldn’t hesitate to offer it. It could be a book, CD, DVD, power tool, kitchen utensil or appliance. Jerry was even known to lend his Macintosh computer or even his prized possession – the green Klein Attitude bicycle hanging on his apartment wall.
George was the complete opposite. If someone admired something of his, they were met with silence. If they had the audacity to ask to borrow it, George would shoot them down “It’s just a CD – can’t you afford a CD yourself?”, or “I’m using that right now”, or “I’m planning to use that in the near future”. Of course George was under no obligation to lend any of his possessions, but he could have been a little more charitable toward his friends.
We turn now to another resident of the apartment, and a friend of both George and Jerry: Newman. Newman worked as a postal carrier, but was recently laid off from his job. Unable to find work, and having few marketable skills, Newman decided to embark on a venture that he hoped would be more profitable than delivering mail. He decided to build a meth lab in his apartment.
If you want to build and run your own meth lab, it helps to have a degree in chemistry, or at least a solid grounding in science, chemical interactions, boiling points, flash points, and most importantly – the conditions under which spontaneous combustion might occur. Unfortunately for Newman, he had enough education to deliver the mail, but not enough to know his way around a chemistry lab.
One day, as luck would have it, there was a huge explosion in Newman’s makeshift meth lab, and the force of the blast hurled his portly frame right through the window and onto the street below. The smoke alarms sounded throughout the building and everyone managed to evacuate in time and without injury. Unfortunately, the fire spread to some other apartment units including Jerry’s and George’s. Both of their units were completely gutted, and nothing inside was even remotely salvageable.
The landlord gave the affected tenants temporary free lodging in another building, except for Newman of course, who was given more permanent free lodging in a government-owned facility.
The following week, friends began to drop in on Jerry. They would ask how he was doing, and then say “By the way Jerry, here’s that radio you lent me last month”, or “I’ve decided to return your computer system”, or “Thanks for lending me you bike”. Before long, Jerry’s apartment was starting to fill up with his own possessions again.
Friends stopped in on George too, to wish him well. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything to return because George never lent any of his stuff. All he got was condolences, best wishes, and half-hearted offers of “If there’s anything I can do to help”.
So, if you find yourself evaluating the short-term benefits of being stingy or generous, it helps to consider the big picture: what goes around comes around.