THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER
Once an ant and a grasshopper crossed paths after being out of touch for years. They hadn’t seen each other since graduating from university together. When they met again so unexpectedly, the ant was headed for an important corporate meeting, while the grasshopper was just returning from “afar.” The ant was wearing a conservative three-piece suit with a company lapel pin. The grasshopper had on a tattered straw hat and generally looked as if it was coming apart at the seams. After their initial surprise had worn off, the two asked each other, almost in unison, “What have you been up to all this time?” The ant told of having been unable to find steady employment for years after earning a degree in the Humanities. It had moved from one job to another, without ever feeling secure in any of them. Regardless of its industry and dedication, the ant eventually found all of its efforts meant little when a business went through restructuring or downsizing. The ant was always among the first to be let go. The grasshopper, on the other hand, told of a wildly successful career as a stockbroker following graduation in Finance. At a time when the markets were posting new highs every session, lucrative investments and bonuses in the millions piled up at such a rate that the grasshopper couldn’t spend the money fast enough. Success became an embarrassment and then merely tedious. The grasshopper wearied of its penthouse, its Rolls and its Ferrari, multi-martini lunches, power ties, exclusive clubs, the lot. One day it sold everything and didn’t even bother to collect the profits. It booked the first available plane ticket to anywhere and vanished. At about the same time, the ant finally and unexpectedly got the break it had been waiting for. Despondent over its lack of prospects, it had entered a jingle-writing contest for an insurance company on a whim and won. Sensing that it might have found its long-sought road to security at last, the ant threw itself into advancing the interests of its employer and had done quite well, all considered. The mortgage on its house had only another nine years to go, its children were in good schools, and it was contributing to both a 401(k) plan and a Roth IRA with an eye to retirement decades away. When the two former classmates finished recounting their tales, they looked one another over with a mixture of bemusement and relief. Each thought of the turn the other’s life had taken and said to itself, “There but for the grace of God go I.” The ant wondered what the grasshopper would do when old age came and it realized it had frittered everything away. The grasshopper wondered what the ant had done with the summer of its life. Following their chance meeting, the ant and the grasshopper went their separate ways and never set eyes on each other again. As it turned out, they both died on the same day years later. The one succumbed to a heart attack at its desk, diligently working away at the sales pitch for a new insurance plan. While the other also died of a heart attack, on the Riviera, surrounded by golden-skinned grasshopper girls.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans