Fables Every IT Professional Should Know

The Foolish Farmer

A farmer was determined to enter the winning horse at the annual County Derby. So determined, in fact, that he traveled the countryside looking for a prized racing stallion. After weeks of searching, and just days before the race, he happened upon a stable where he saw a magnificent specimen. Just one glance at the beast's proud head, muscular neck and powerful torso and the farmer knew this was the horse for him. After watching it run with incomparable grace and speed, the farmer quickly parted with his money.

But one minor fact had escaped him; the horse was constipated. Horribly, disastrously constipated. And on the day of the county race, as the horses waited in the starting gate, the stallion's pain grew immense. The gates opened and the field ran off … but not the farmer’s horse. It was in such agony it just lay down in a fetal position and wouldn't move for an hour and a half. Eventually the horse ran up incredible medical bills, the farmer was financially ruined, and he wound up having to bus tables at a local delicatessen the rest of his life.

Moral: Before you purchase anything, make sure the back end works the way it's supposed to.

The Boy and the Birdhouse

An eager student had to build a birdhouse for his high school science project—not just any birdhouse, but a birdhouse which had to attract several birds in order to get a passing grade. So he labored for weeks, cutting and pasting, and even filling it with the most enticing dried corn he could find.

When it was finally ready, he secretly covered his masterpiece, ventured outside, and hung it from the roof of the front porch. At last he pulled off the cover, and watched in horror as about 6,000 birds flew down from out of nowhere to get at his creation. There was chaos, flying feathers, and droppings all over the place. The birds never came back, his mom grounded him for a month, and he wound up with a C-, eventually losing his scholarship to Dartmouth.

Moral: Make sure you’re ready for any amount of traffic.

The Optimistic Oak Tree

There once was a small oak tree with big dreams. It boasted how it would grow up to be the tallest, strongest tree in the forest. To ensure it was not disturbed as it grew, it shelled out a fortune to protect itself. It built a fence. It installed motion detectors. And it hired the most feared beast it could find, a giant elephant, to guard it day and night.

However, little did the sapling know that a small acorn coveted its position. It too had aspirations for someday becoming the tallest oak in the forest. And one morning the acorn paid off a tiny mouse to run in and startle the elephant. The elephant reared up, fell backward, and crushed the arrogant oak into a bunch of kindling. Later it was turned into a box of mint-flavored toothpicks

Moral: All the security in the world can't protect you from some nut with a mouse.

Michael Cohn lives in Atlanta, where his career has been anything but a fairy tale.