Planning for trouble? What's the point?

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Rick Horowitz
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Here in the Town of Parable, we figure things happen for a reason. That's what we tell ourselves, anyway -- if we didn't, we'd probably spend all our time cursing our bad luck instead of learning from our mistakes.

There was the day the town hall caught fire, for instance. This was right after the annual holiday fireworks show, which was kind of a Parable tradition, along with the picnics and the parade.

This particular time was different, though -- instead of our normal little fireworks show, the town council decided to bring in this fancy new outfit from somewhere else.

And this fancy new outfit -- Blast Palooza, they called themselves -- they promised the biggest and best fireworks show anybody in Parable had ever seen. Plus they'd take care of all the arrangements themselves, which everybody thought was a real convenience.

That's what everybody thought, that is, until a few of the sparks from Blast Palooza's giant fireworks show got caught up in the evening breeze and landed right on the town hall's roof, while a few more sparks floated in through some of the open windows down below.

It wasn't but a couple of seconds later that people started seeing little wisps of smoke everywhere, and then the wisps weren't wisps anymore but real-life flames, getting bigger every minute.

"Make it stop!" people started shouting. But the folks from Blast Palooza said there wasn't anything they could do -- they were in the fireworks business, not the putting-out-fires business. By the time word reached the folks on the town council -- they were all at the big picnic table, same as always, way down at the other end of the square -- they had a regular crisis on their hands.

That's when they decided it would be a good idea to have a fire department. (The vote was nearly unanimous.)

In the meantime, though -- while they started drawing up plans for their fire department -- they figured it might be a good idea to throw some water on the fire. So two dozen or so of Parable's leading citizens went back home and grabbed buckets, and filled those buckets with water, and went straight back and threw their water at the flames. It didn't seem to help much -- they needed a lot more water than that.

That's when they decided they could use a hose.

Somebody had one, so they went and got it. The hose worked better than the buckets did, once they found some water they could attach it to. But there was still a problem: The water from the hose could only reach the lower floors. It couldn't reach the upper floors. It certainly couldn't reach the roof.

That's when they thought about a ladder -- if they could carry the hose up a ladder, that might help. They had Violet open the hardware store special for them, and they bought the first ladder they saw, and hurried back and set the ladder up against the north wall of the town hall. Right away, they could see there was a problem. The town hall was four stories tall. The ladder wasn't half of that.

"What if we had a truck?" somebody wondered. A truck you could put a ladder on top of -- that was the idea, or even a truck that had a ladder built right onto it, like a crane, so it could go up as high as it had to go to reach the fire.

They were still discussing this truck-with-a-ladder idea, and where to get one and how much it would cost, and where they'd store it, and who'd get to drive it, when the town hall collapsed.

We're pretty sure there's a lesson there.

We're still trying to figure out what it is.

Last updated: 1:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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