A Catholic-themed opinion blog about various topics, including theology, philosophy, politics and culture, from a Thomistic perspective.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bare Bones: A Parable

John, a mechanic, was refitting a custom car for one of his most high-paying customers. His friend and fellow employee, Tim, had already finished his work for the day and was watching him work. The customer wanted the most comfortable fittings available, but wanting to pay as little as possible. Retaining only the bare essentials of the original model - an old beat-up 70's sports car handed down by the customer's father - John planned to make it the best job he had ever done.

"So what're you going to do about these?" Tim asked, one hand grasping a soda bottle and the other pointing at the dirty, ripped seats inside the car.

John rubbed his chin thoughtfully, mulling over his available options. "Let's see..."

Awhile later, the old seats were replaced with comfortable black leather seating. "What do you think?" John asked.

"Hm..." Tim mused, taking a drink of his soda. "It looks nice, keep going."

Grinning at his friend, John moved on to the electronics. He put in the most cooling air conditioner, the warmest, gentlest heater, the most clear audio system, a CD player with wi-fi access, and GPS. Everything worked perfectly.

Next, he installed a powerful but efficient, quiet motor, clean hybrid fuel system and a refurbished version of the original sports car exterior, with new windows, windshield, head and rear lights, and a rear windshield wiper. Finally finished, John tried it out - everything ran perfectly, and he felt incredibly comfortable with all the car's ammenities.

"Wow man, this thing looks great," Tim said, inspecting John's work. "Very nice job."

John smiled proudly, standing back to survey his product. "Thanks. I really enjoyed doing it. You always feel satisfied when you give a customer what they want, y'know?"

Tim grinned. "Yep, I do." He paused a moment, furrowing his brow, then turned to his friend. "But, there is one problem."

John felt his heart sink and he frowned, turning to Tim. "Be gentle."

"How much does all this cost?"

John froze, then turned to gaze at the car. Closing his eyes, he ran a hand over his face and sighed heavily. "I didn't even think about the guy's budget. I just wasted a ton of resources and my entire day. I don't even know who'll be more angry, the boss or the customer."

Tim patted his friend on the back reassuringly. "Let me help you out alright? I can make this car just as comfortable, but well within the guy's budget before you even get off work."

"I couldn't ask you to do that man, you've already done a whole day's work."

Tim smiled. "Don't worry about it. Buy me dinner sometime," he said with a grin.

John returned his grin and laughed with obvious relief. "I will, don't worry. A steak as big as your head."

"Don't be insulting me now."

Sharing a laugh, John went back into the break room while Tim worked. He could hear all the myriad tools he had employed only moments before, and, if he heard correctly, a couple more. Drinking a soda, he tried to calm down from his moment of terror, hoping his friend could pull through.

About an hour later, Tim bent into the break room, grinning with satisfaction and John instantly shared it. "Come on out buddy, it's done."

John jumped out, sitting his drink down as he followed Tim back to the work area. There sat all of the fixtures he had added before, all the electronics, padded leather seating, high-quality engine - with no chassis, wheels, tires, and all other essentials completely missing.

He blinked. "Uh, what happened? Did you get robbed halfway through or something?"

Tim smirked. "Nope. These are all the comforts, for a fraction of the price. Just what the customer wanted, right?"

"I guess you're right."

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