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Consumer mindedness: A series of fables

By Charles Qualls

I have a friend whom I love like a brother. We travel with this couple. We have so much fun together, until it’s not fun. You want to know what’s not fun? When his steak isn’t cooked just perfectly as he ordered, he often sends it back. The crucial question is whether it wasn’t just perfect, or whether it was actually inedible to him. That’s an important difference. Because when he does that, he calls the meal to a halt for the entire table.

He’ll say, “You all go right ahead and eat.” But we are all polite, including his spouse. So we don’t. If we did, we’d just have to wait on him to finish before dessert time anyway. It’s within his rights to return it and ask them to cook him another one. It truly is. But it punishes the whole table, not just the kitchen, every single time he asserts this right.

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A person bought a ticket for a boat tour. He bought one seat along the starboard side right in between bow and stern. The group filled the boat, and everyone had their rightful seat. The tour was to last over an hour. Quickly, the boat moved out into an open canal and everyone marveled at the sights they were taking in. Suddenly there was a stir. A commotion. People seated on his side, in front and behind, were aghast that he had reached into his bag and pulled out a hand-cranked drill. On the end was a large bit, big enough to take a sizable plug of wood out of whatever it was used on.

He reached over the side and put the drill below the water line and onto the side of the boat. He began to crank it furiously. “No…!” “Stop!!…” his boat mates yelled. “Please don’t do that, you’ll drown us all,” a lady protested. The man only continued to turn the crank on the drill while responding, “This is my seat. I have a ticket. You do or don’t do whatever you want at your seat.”

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Two guys went to a concert, but not together. They’d never met, not even when they ended up seated next to each other. They had both bought tickets for seats on the last row. It was a great concert. The band was playing so well. Everyone should have been having such a marvelous time. One of these guys was big, both tall and muscular. The other, very average in build. Keep that fixed in your mind, for those details will become important in just a moment.

If you think about it, a ticket buys you the chance to sit during a given event and occupy the space inside your seat. From armrest to armrest, and the floor space that corresponds to the boundaries established by the armrests. That’s it, nothing more. Not far into the show, the big guy began to spread out. He muscled his arms onto both armrests, negating use of the same for people on each side of him. Then, his giant legs began to stray over into the space on either side of him as well. Never once did it occur to him that he was occupying space that someone next to him, also with a ticket, had rented for the evening. Or, maybe it did.

A bull weighing 2,700 pounds strutted up to the jelly roll hay bale. In addition to his huge size, he possessed horns that looked to all around him like a forklift had parked upon his head. He was prodigious and imposing. There was plenty of space for several cows to safely eat and never get near each other around the fresh hay. But the bull would walk in each time, swinging his head to claim more space than he truly needed. Soon, the area all around the bale would clear out. No other cow wanted to chance getting hit by someone behaving like that. The bull would walk away, stomach full, content at all he had eaten. Then, he wondered all the rest of the day why he felt so lonely. No one wanted to spend any time with him, it always seemed.

Do you know what the definition of a “fable” is? A fable is a short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral. God has created us as a higher order, so that we might live as a reflection of God. Not as mere animals.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.