A group of friends were out hiking one day. We find them
walking steadily upstream next to a river... towards a pub…
One of them, let’s call him Kevin, didn’t quite fit into the
group. In fact, Kevin didn’t seem to fit into any group. He was a little
introverted and found being in a large group a little intimidating. At parties
he would rarely mingle and would mostly be found standing at the back of the
room holding onto a glass firmly for support with no one to talk to, while
everyone else seemed to be desperately trying to demonstrate to everyone else
what a great time they were having. He knew he spoke the same language that all
his friends and colleagues at work spoke but for some reason always had a
strange feeling that he spoke some strange dialect that others constantly
misinterpreted. This only served to increase his feelings of anxiety when
communicating with others and increased his quietness and self-imposed
solitude. All he knew was - he just didn’t seem to “fit” anywhere. It wasn’t
that the rest of the people in the group hated Kevin per se. They just found
him a little weird. Didn’t quite understand him, and tolerated him rather than
Kevin and his “friends” had been walking all day and were
very tired, but the thought of relaxing with a heap of some excellent Ham and
Cheese sandwiches and lashings of Ginger Beer filled their very souls and drove
them on. As they walked down the river bank they began to see children being
swept down-stream, coughing and spluttering. The river was wide and fast
flowing and impossible to cross. Some of the friends jumped into the river to
save them, the others started using sticks, building rafts or throwing in tree
vines in desperate attempts to save them. Panic broke out, closely followed by
The people in the river shouted at the people building the
“Hey you idiots building a raft - you’re wasting time. If you
jumped in the river and helped us we would save more children”
The people building the raft shouted at the people in the
“Hey you idiots in the river - you’re wasting time. If you
helped us build the raft it would be completed quicker, we would be able to
save more children overall”
Every now and then the people in the river could save a
child but many were washed away downstream never to be seen again and as more
and more children came down the river, the arguments got louder and louder.
As they shouted and panicked and honestly tried their best,
they suddenly noticed that Kevin had walked away - upstream towards the pub -
and was not helping at all! They were astonished and now having a common enemy
to complain about joined their voices in shouting their derision.
“Where the hell are you going - get back here you idiot and
help us, how selfish can you be????”
But Kevin could no longer hear them and continued to walk
upstream towards the pub.
As time passed, they finally got the last of the children
out of the river and, lying soaked and exhausted on the bank, they began
The people who had been in the river said,
“Oh how terrible - the many children we did not save. If only
the people building the raft would have helped us in the river”
The people who had been building the raft said,
“Oh how terrible - the many children we did not save. If
only the people in the river would have helped us building the raft”
But soon their melancholy turned to disbelief and then
swiftly to anger as they saw Kevin walking back down the river towards them.
Smiling! Their disbelief from the fact that he had the audacity to come back,
and their anger from the fact that he was carrying an armful of sandwiches and
a flagon of Ginger Beer!
With their renewed rage reaching incandescent levels, they
began to shout,
“Where the hell did you go! Are you mental! Why the
hell did you go and get sandwiches you idiot”
“You left us here alone trying to stop the children
from drowning!! Are you stupid!!!”.
As Kevin approached his heart sank, and not for the first
time in his life, felt like a bowl of Petunias.
“Oh no! Not again!”
Yet again, a large group of people were angry with him and
worst of all he had no idea why. This happened a lot to Kevin. Many people
seemed to hate him, even loath him. He thought he was a good person, tried to
always do the right thing like his Mother had taught him, but nevertheless, it
always seemed to Kevin that he was the butt of people’s hostility with
monotonous regularity. It was his cross to bear.
As he drew nearer the jeering reached a crescendo as they
all shouted in unison,
“What the hell have you been doing you idiot?”
“Preventing children from falling in the river. Anyone fancy
Are you always jumping in the river?
Are you consumed with building rafts?
Or are you going to get some sandwiches and Ginger Beer?
The Pragmatic Lifeguard.