Monday, 18 May 2009

On the subject of recession and self-delusion....

...a parable. can't remember where I first heard it, but it was during the late 1980's when the property market was collapsing, the global economy was in freefall and unemployment was rising fast. Those were the days. Anyway, it goes something like this....

A 60 year-old man, having taken early retirement, decided he wanted an interest, so he started a snack wagon, delivering sandwiches to businesses around his area.

He took pride in his work and made delicious lunches for the many office workers who looked forward to hearing his bell ring when he pulled up in his van.

Soon, he had so many customers he couldn't visit them all on his own and needed to take on someone to help - so he bought another van and recruited a keen young person to drive it and deliver the sandwiches and snacks.

In a few more months, another van and another person were needed. Business was booming and the man was having a wonderful time, bringing his food and his happy face to his customers far and wide.

Then his grandson came to visit, fresh from business school. 'What are you thinking?' he said, 'don't you realise about the terrible recession we are in? You must cut your costs until things improve'

So the man sadly said goodbye to his two assistants and sold his other vans on eBay. Then he cut back on his ingredients, buying cheaper bread, pre-packed fillings and substituting margarine for the fine mayonnaise he used to use. Costs were slashed and his grandson was pleased. Gradually, customers stopped buying the man's sandwiches and went back to their vending machines. After a few months, business was so bad the man decided to pack it all in and sold his van to go back to his allotment.

This recession is certainly terrible, he said, as he went to weed round his lettuces.

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