An Ugly American Story (sorry)

September 19, 2010

Why did I have to travel with this colleague, for whom everything about Europe was wrong?

It was a beautiful Saturday morning when we arrived at the Holmenkollen Ski Hotel, atop a small mountain on the east side of Oslo.  I took a quick shower, then a short nap to recover from the long airline flight, and a delightful buffet breakfast before starting my trek down the small road to Oslo city center.  But my colleague stayed behind, “to watch television”.  And when I completed my downhill adventures, enjoyed a quiet day of art galleries, city walking, and gourmet foot, and took a train back up the mountain to the hotel, his only comments was, “The coke was warm!”.

Our next stop was the town of Hilversum, the radio and TV center of Holland.  I always like to work hard and live well, and so when our consulting was finished  I took him to one of the finest but least formal restaurants I knew — a small auberge in the seaside village of Oude Loosdrecht.

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A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, “Lord, I would like to know what heaven and hell are like.

The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water.

The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, “You have seen Hell.

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, “I don’t understand.”

“It is simple,” said the Lord. “It requires but one skill. You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.”

Sorry, I don’t know the source of this parable.