Column #499 Donald the Monkey – a Fable
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Donald the Monkey – a Fable
Only one person in the world may understand this. They know who they are…
Once upon a time there was a monkey. His name was Donald. He was a dumb monkey but, unlike another Donald, he was not under the delusion he could run a country (although he did make frequent promises he knew he couldn’t keep).
Donald the monkey lived in Africa.
The other monkeys ate coconuts. They knew where to find them. They knew the best ways to climb the trees (or shake them) to get them. They knew where to find the best rocks to crack them open so they could eat them. Best of all, they invented games to play with them, held competitions and kept logs of the winners and losers. Next to eating the coconuts, the monkeys loved to gamble on coconut games.
The other monkeys knew lots about coconuts.
But Donald knew nothing.
One day Donald got an idea. He decided to write a book about coconuts. He planned to call it Coconuts by Donald and include a special computer disc to provide for keeping track of coconut game statistics. He dreamed of making many clams and lazing away his days in a fancy home high in a shady tree.
Donald traveled around the jungle and asked the other monkeys what they knew. He wrote what they told him on palm fronds, made copies and set up a shop in a clearing on the edge of a small pond where the other monkeys came to drink the cool water and wile away the day with their friends Petunia the pretty parrot and Harlan the hedgehog.
The first day Donald sold four of his books and computer programs.
The next day he sold just two.
Sales continued to languish for weeks. Something was wrong and Donald began to worry. His dream of a cushy retirement was in jeopardy. Donald was surrounded by hundreds of his frond tomes and discs but for some reason the monkeys weren’t buying.
Late one afternoon, after the monkeys hopped on the vine highway and swung home for supper and just before nighttime enveloped the forest and Latrell the lion began to prowl, Donald approached Petunia and Harlan…
“Hey guys,” he asked, “by chance have the monkeys told you why they aren’t buying my book?”
“Why certainly,” replied Petunia the parrot, “They think it’s crap-doody.”
Donald couldn’t believe his furry ears.
“That’s right mate,” said Harlan the hedgehog, “Your book is rubbish. You don’t know sod all about coconuts (Harlan was originally from Bournemouth). And the program to score coconut games doesn’t work. It’s written in an archaic computer language that hasn’t been used since the 1970s.”
“But I asked the other monkeys!” offered an exasperated Donald. “The scoring formula does work. All you need is an Apple I. What am I going to do? I worked hard and invested many clams.”
“Yo! Ax a frickin’ expert ta write da frickin’ book and software, ya dumb frickin’ primate – and den ya jus’ might make som’ frickin’ clams!” roared Latrell the lion as he bounded from the adrenalin grass on the side of the clearing. (Latrell learned English from Scott Wollaston.)
“Please don’t eat me!” pleaded Donald. “Just tell me what to do. I’ll pay!”
“Yo!” said Latrell, “Da monkeys, dey’ll dig deep if da book don’t be cheap. Ya’ll jus a dumb monkey. Find ya ass a ‘telligent monkey dat actually know somethin’ ‘bout da coconuts – and how ta make da program work. Get his monkey-ass ta do da work. Toss the cat a clam and den keep mos’ da clams for ya own self.”
So Donald traveled around the jungle again and found Moeshe.
Moeshe was one of the monkey elders. He was a real macher in the monkey community and highly respected. Once he had even been the jungle coconut cracking champion. All the monkeys looked up to Moeshe.
Donald offered Moeshe a deal. It seemed like a good deal. Moeshe agreed to write down all he knew, especially about how to automate the scoring of coconut games, in return for one clam for every book that Donald might eventually sell.
For months, Moeshe slaved away. When he was finished he gave his manuscript (and a DVD with sophisticated scoring software) to Donald. Donald made copies and then set up his little shop again in the clearing. He priced his new offer at twenty clams.
What a difference!
Whereas Coconuts by Donald was a dismal failure, sales of Coconuts by Moeshe took off immediately. Donald sold dozens of Moeshe’s books and dutifully paid him one clam each.
“What a smart monkey I am!” thought Donald, as he began to make plans for his tree-top retirement retreat.
But Moeshe was smarter. He was much smarter…
Moeshe began to wonder why he, the smart monkey who had all the knowledge and had done all the work, should receive just one clam for each of his books with his proprietary scoring program while Donald the dumb monkey pocketed nineteen clams. It wasn’t fair! It wasn’t right!
So Moeshe went back to work and wrote an entirely new book.
He made copies, set up his own little shop in the clearing right next to Donald’s stand, and began to sell his new book. He called it Kibitzing about Coconuts with Moeshe and he priced it at thirty clams, fifty percent more than the book Donald was hawking.
The monkeys and even many of the other animals swarmed Moshe’s shop, ignoring Donald right next door, and in just days Moeshe’s first printing sold out. Moeshe reprinted again and again.
The rest is history…
In time, Moshe expanded his operation. He set up distributorships in the rainforests of the Amazon and Asia and today his books, and especially his coconut game scoring software, is the go-to source for animals worldwide. Then he really struck it rich when his algorithm was discovered by humans and became the foundation upon which most fantasy football, baseball and hockey leagues are now based.
Today, Moeshe the smart monkey who knew everything about coconuts, lives a life of luxury with Petunia the pretty parrot in a lavish home atop the tallest tree in the forest.
Donald the dumb monkey who knew nothing about coconuts and wrote a scoring program that didn’t work, spent years trying to recover his investment in the stock of his own book and Moeshe’s first book, but failed miserably.
Donald briefly rented a flat in the crook of a tree from Harlan the hedgehog. In the end he was eaten by Latrell the lion – a fate he deserved.
The moral (all fables must have one)…
However well-intentioned, if you write a book about coconuts or a program for scoring coconut contests (or darts) and it turns out to be crap-doody and you can’t or won’t fix it, don’t compound the problem by making false promises or blaming others. Be honest. Take responsibility. Man up.
Or run for president.
From the Field,
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