When the wheels fall off

wheels fall offHere’s a story my grandfather once told me.

Once upon a time, a man and a few of his friends decided they could build a new kind of vehicle. They had some knowledge and experience of similar vehicles and a lot of determination to make their idea work. They decided to call their new vehicle after a bird.

They progressed very well for a time but then hit a stumbling block – the people making the wheels for them went broke and couldn’t supply what they’d promised. So the man and his friends looked around for someone else to make their wheels. But all the others were too expensive – the man and his friends wanted to make their new vehicle as affordable as possible. So they decided to make their own wheels.

Right from the start, this proved much more difficult than they’d imagined. Although their vehicles were selling quite well – mainly because they were cheap – the wheels had started falling off a fair number. Although it appeared nobody had yet been hurt, it was nevertheless a bit of an embarrassment to the man and his friends. To try and compensate, they offered to supply free new wheels to replace those which fell off and even travelled miles to fix wheel-less vehicles themselves.

They tried tinkering with the design but whatever they did, the wheels kept falling off. Other people came along and suggested different ideas, which might work better. But they spurned new ideas, because by now this rather inflexible man and his friends had spent a lot of time and effort trying to convince everyone (including probably themselves) there was really nothing wrong with their wheels. It was the drivers or mechanics who were somehow damaging them by going too fast, too far or not oiling them correctly.

Time went on and still the wheels kept falling off. Until one day some policemen with big sticks came along and told the man and his friends that one way or another, the wheels had to stop falling off or they would not be allowed to sell their vehicles any more. Of course, the man and his friends argued arrogantly that it wasn’t their wheels that were the problem, it was the idiots using them in the wrong way and not looking after them properly. ‘After all’, they said, ‘nobody’s actually been killed when our wheels fell off”. As it actually turned out, this might not have been quite true and certainly some people had been hurt. ‘And our vehicle is very strong’, they said, ‘ so even when the wheels do fall off, the driver and passenger have a good chance of survival’. ‘Not good enough’, said the policemen, ‘you fix them, or else!’.

A short while later, soon after they had been repaired by the man and his friends, the wheels fell right off a vehicle, which then crashed into a tree – thankfully, without hurting anyone. The man (whose friends by now were disappearing) phoned the owner and said: ‘I’m sorry about the wheels but you must be very glad you bought one of my strong vehicles and as a result no-one was hurt’. The owner told all his friends what the man had said and they all vowed they’d never ever buy one of these vehicles again.

‘Which just goes to show’, (said my grandfather) ‘arrogant people only breed sadness for themselves’. That is, until the wheels fall off….

Or, as my grandson would say: ‘I’m soooo over this, can we go flying now?’.

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