Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Ferry Tale

Once upon a time in a kingdom by the sea there stood a series of islands, treed and green. These islands, so resplendent, especially when bathed in the golden glow of sunset, tempted the folk on the mainland, who toiled through the week at their weary-making tasks.

Long ago, in the springtime of the realm, the people from the mainland used to enjoy taking short trips to visit the dreamy islands. To get there, they would ride on sturdy ferries which in turn rode the sparkling seas, as if the waves were logical extensions of the roadways.

But as so often happens – especially in tales – change came upon the kingdom. Dark clouds of greed gathered along the horizon. A new emperor named Gordon came all smiling amongst the people and occupied a castle on the largest of the dreamy islands.

Gordon grinned to the friends he had brought to the castle and told them that he had plans to rearrange the kingdom. First, he’d appoint a new steward who would take charge of the lovely boats that plied the waters to the dreamy islands. And he appointed none other than a prince by the name of David.

Soon after Prince David took charge of the fleet, little things began to change, amongst them the fares. Though they’d steadily gone up in the past (hadn’t almost everything, save for wages?), they now rose incredibly – 40% on the main routes, 69% on the ones deemed as minor, and even higher yet in those in the northern reaches of the kingdom. But these things didn’t matter to Emperor Gordon and his friends, as they didn’t much enjoy having to wait in long lines, so they usually took a helicopter or plane anyway.

And Prince David didn’t think much about the fare hikes, as he kept getting raises and sacks-of-gold bonuses for all he’d done to do his part in privatizing the people’s network of transportation.

But then one day it suddenly occurred that not so many people were taking the ferries any more – not even the ones who’d learned to leave their cars behind and trek over as foot passengers, lugging their goods in backpacks and rolling carts.

When someone told Prince David that his fleet was losing money, he pointed out the shining window of his tall glass tower towards the sky and said, “Ah, but the weather is to blame.”

Then, when the sun continued to shine, he looked out another gleaming pane of glass, towards the towers of his old friends at the nearby bank. A small line creased his face, giving him an air of concern, and he pointed again, this time saying, “Ah, but it’s the loonie – much too high.”

The cleaning woman, who happened to be in his office, polishing one of its many windows, dared to look upon the prince, and said in a voice that was quiet but clear, “The fares are too high."

“Oh no,” laughed Prince David, “what could you possibly know? You’re just a simple cleaning woman and I am a prince.” And with that, he pointed his finger again, only this time at the door.

Emperor Gordon has gone away, off to live in a castle on another dreamy island, one that’s much too far to reach by any ferry. In the meantime, Prince David continues to offer his elaborate excuses. And while no one knows yet whether anyone will live happily ever after, one can only hope that at least this year Prince David won’t be receiving his usual bonus sacks of gold.


Janet Vickers said...

This is brilliant hg - thanks.

hg said...

Thank you, Janet. It will be interesting to see what occurs at bonus time. For now, we have to hold our breaths and see just how many sailings (and workers' jobs) will be cut to keep management salaries intact.