Food for Thought
The Grouch in the Park
by Mark MonsonOnce upon a time there was a nice little town with a nice little park. All the people of the town were proud of their park. It had trees and grass and ponds and was generally wonderful. Every day, people came to picnic and play games and relax.
All the people were free to use the park whenever they wanted to, with one exception. Sometimes, a group might use the whole park. If a group intended to use part or all of the park for something special, the rules said that they string a yellow rope around the area they were using. Other people were not allowed to cross this rope as long as somebody was within the roped area. If nobody was within the roped area, anybody could pull down the ropes and use that park area again.
In this town lived an old grouch. He hated seeing people have fun. He especially hated to see people laughing and playing and enjoying the town park. One day the grouch got a idea that if he put ropes up around the whole park he could sit inside the park and keep everybody else out. So early next morning, he strung yellow ropes all around the park. He put a chair inside and sat down in the chair. People came to use the park, but they went away sad when they saw the ropes up. The grouch just scowled at them from his folding chair. Families stood with their picnic baskets and wondered why the whole park was closed off for just one guy.
The grouch was very pleased with himself when he saw the people looking into the park and going away sadly. Then the grouch had another idea. He thought that instead of sitting in the chair himself all day, he could hire somebody else to sit in the chair, so he could go rest and get something to eat.
So that's what he did. He hired a man to sit in the chair. Usually he just sat. If somebody tried to cross the rope he yelled at them that the park was being used.
The old grouch couldn't have been happier about how things were going. And then things got better. A man who had been turned away from the park offered him five dollars to use a corner of the park for his little girl's birthday party. The grouch liked money, so he agreed.
Thereafter, when people arrived at the park , saw the yellow rope and turned to walk away, the grouch would whisper, "Gee, too bad you came to use the park on a day when I'm using it. Tell you what. Just because I'm a nice guy, I'll let you use part of it for five bucks."
Many times the person would think, " I guess paying five dollars to use the park is better than not using the park at all."
And so it went that the grouch was making money hand over fist. He never went to the park anymore. He could afford to hire men to walk along the rope to make sure nobody crossed without permission.
Some people went to the mayor and complained that the grouch was using the park unfairly. The mayor said he'd look into the matter. He didn't look too far because the grouch had just made a big contribution to his reelection fund.
And so it goes to this day. The grouch doesn't need to work anymore. He lives in a big house overlooking the town. He has two big cars and lots of the things money can buy. And he thanks his lucky stars that he lives in a free country where a man with a new idea can still make a buck.
Do you get the point? What's the moral of the story? Tell your views to The Progress Report:
Page One Page Two Archive Discussion Room Letters What's Geoism?