The view from my couch

A Fable
by Tom Duwe
December 21, 2003

Once upon a time...(Fables *always* start this way), there was a bunch of guys who somehow or other began doing stuff with things. Several reasons may have been involved in why or how this bunch of guys got together and even why it was this particular thing this bunch started doing...all that is kinda hidden in the mists of time. Regardless of the reasons, this bunch of guys were doing this stuff and, over time, another larger bunch of folks began getting together to watch the bunch of guys do stuff. Lots of the watchers either liked to or had to, bring along their families when it came time to watch. They also sometimes brought along some of their friends who'd never before heard of the bunch of do-ers or the thing the do-ers did. Mostly, the numbers of watchers kept getting larger.

Many of the newer watchers had a lot of different reasons for being there, not just to watch the do-ers doing stuff with things...for some it was 'cuz they liked where the doing stuff went on, you know, nice weather, good scenery and like that, and others got to know many of the other watchers (the original folks and lots of the newer ones, too). Usually, there was some good food, maybe some cold drinks of one flavor or another, and lots of friendly talk about the stuff-doing and everything else under the sun. The word spread about the stuff-doing and the getting-together, and more folks joined in with the fun.

Pretty soon it became obvious that somehow all these folks, the do-ers and the watchers, needed to know when and where the next stuff-doing was going to happen. The original bunch of guys doing the stuff kinda knew and made arrangements with the other guys so they'd all get there at the right place and the right time and so they'd all have time to get their things ready. Sometimes, there was confusion and mistakes and finally one guy decided maybe he could kinda be the one to say to the rest of the bunch, ok here's the deal...we next go here and start doing stuff at this time...if'n ya ain't got your things ready...tough. After awhile, the one guy figgered out he also may as well get the word to all the watchers and he began letting them all know where stuff-doing was gonna get done next time.

It was along in here, when the one guy began having some trouble making enough posters to spread around about the next stuff-doing and lists of do-er guys and the details piled up and his family wasn't enough help and geez, maybe he needed to actually hire somebody to help. He didn't have much money for that so he began asking do-ers and watchers for some money to help. That grew into actually setting an admission price to watch the stuff-doings...the do-ers wondered how they could afford to keep on stuff-doing and then a deal was set up to give the best do-er some money from the admissions collected by the one guy.

Meanwhile, the watchers...they didn't mind the admission deal, it was pretty cheap and the food and cold drinks they wouldda had at home anyway, and they were able to watch the do-ers and the things...so it was fine. Some mostly liked how the do-ers did the stuff, others were mostly into the things the do-ers did it with...and it seemed like everybody had a favorite do-er! Sometimes, the talk about one do-er or the other led to some pretty colorful language, even some pushing and shoving...but all-in-all, the stuff the do-ers were doing was what it was all about!

Some of the do-ers figured out better ways of doing the stuff they did and sometimes could do it better than the other do-ers...some of the rest began figuring out how to change their things they did stuff with so *they* could do the stuff better! The really smart do-ers learned both and were able to get lottsa the parts of the admissions from the one guy, and these guys soon had lots of the watchers hollerin mostly for them during the stuff-doing!! By the way, the one guy often got more admissions than he spent on organizing the stuff-doings or giving to the do-ers that did good...he kept the extra...big surprise, huh?

Along about here, the Fable should include something about the places where stuff-doing was being done by the do-ers (and watched by the watchers who paid small admissions). The one guy knew he needed these places, so he decided he'd better give some of the admissions to the owners of the places. He also didn't much like not keeping that part of the extra and decided he'd own some places himself and buy more of the places whenever he could do that.

After awhile, there came a time when would-be watchers who couldn't manage to actually be at the places where the stuff-doing got done, were able to read about some of what happened in newspapers, then magazines and eventually the one guy got some radio people to talk about it *after* the stuff-doing got done. Later on, the radio guys actually had someone talk about it *during* the stuff-doing...over the air to all the would-be watchers, who became listeners. The radio guys had to take time out to talk about goodies for their advertisers and soon the goodies that were being talked about had something to do with either the things that were used to do the stuff-doing or the goodies the do-ers ate, or even their favorite cold drinks. Money changed hands between the radio guys and the one guy...different ways at different times, probably, but the one guy kept any extra...still no surprise there.

One day, one of the do-ers and his buddies that helped him showed up in the same color t-shirts and the same kinda jeans...they looked pretty spiffy! After that sometime they started putting the do-ers name on the t-shirts and later the kind of thing he used to do stuff with. Other do-ers did, too. The watchers that liked a given do-er pretty soon wanted t-shirts just like the do-er and his buddies had, and made their own and later bought 'em from somebody pre-made. It couldda been that the one guy helped get this whole t-shirt deal started...specially if at the end of the day there was some extra left for him to keep.

Remember those advertisers whose goodies were talked about on the radio? Well, they started wanting the do-ers to put their advertisers' goodie names on the t-shirts and even on the things used to do the stuff. The advertisers even decided to pay the do-ers a little bit for that and the do-ers and their buddies were able to use the money to make better changes to their things. Pretty soon the one guy finagled a way to get some more extra from these advertisers, too...and he kept it.

Even later after all this, television started up and the one guy worked hard to get the stuff-doing mentioned by the tv guys and then the tv guys did short reports over the air and then even whole stuff-doings, beginning to end! This meant that all the would-be watchers (who became listeners, remember?) now could be watchers again...but not actually be at the stuff-doing, so they were long-range watchers. And on tv (another big 'no surprise' here) there were some *more* advertisers...where their goodies could be seen as well as having someone tell all about the goodies. And these advertisers *also* wanted their goodies mentioned on the do-ers things and on the duds that took the place of the jeans and t-shirts...the one guy got in on all of this, too, and he kept the extra.

By this time, the actions by the one guy were really being done by the son, grandson, other kin folks, people hired from outside and a great big organization put together to keep track of all the extras and figure new ways to get more extras. They also started to spread stuff-doing all over the place and get more advertisers with more extras to get gotten and more labeled goodies blessed by the one guy's organization to sell to the watchers, listeners, long-range watchers and through all this...the extras were all being kept (you aren't really surprised, are you?) .

Spreading stuff-doing all over the place meant that more places were needed, of course...and the one guy's organization got into which-places-where by being in control of this whole deal. Some places got built by other folks (and some of those places got bought by the organization) some places were bought that already had been used for other kinds of stuff-doing...any and all extra that came along was kept. Sometimes, original places for stuff-doing weren't providing the amounts of extra that the organization bean counters felt could be provided some other place, so the original places were done away with, and 'all over the place' places took their place (so to speak!).

All through the time of this Fable, the one guy (and later the one guy's organization) set all kinds of rules and procedures for the actual stuff-doing, the things used for stuff-doing, the places where stuff-doing got done, who could be the do-ers, how the do-ers did stuff, how much of the admissions (and only a little bit of the extra) the do-ers got for doing stuff the best...geez, just about everything about the whole deal had rules. Remember those bean counters the organization has? It seems that they have put together a whole lot of information for the organization that pretty well says that a whole lot of major changes to a whole lot of those rules would mean a whole lot *more* of that extra for the organization!! So it's pretty certain that a whole lot of major changes are going to be made.

And you know what? It's no longer about a bunch of guys doing stuff with things. Now it's all about the organization getting extra. No surprise, I know...and I'm sorry the Fable has no happy ending.

Written by a one-time would-be watcher, who became a listener, who then became a long-range watcher, who then became an actual watcher (for years!), and has now become only an occasional long-range watcher and who will be waiting to learn what the 'whole lot of major changes' actually are...before deciding whether to care any more what stuff the bunch of guys will be doing with what kind of things.

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