#12: The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Reloaded

Once upon a time, many years before the European Union’s historic decision to adopt a single currency, there lived a young boy in Germany who worked as a freelance shepherd.

As the job title suggests, his job was to tend and rear sheep, and the German shepherd[1] worked a regular 9-to-5 shift without medical benefits or comprehensive dental plan. He was barely eight years old, so this was technically child labour and highly exploitative.

The job was not particularly taxing, and it usually involved the boy doing nothing. The boy would apply some sunblock on his face and delicate hands, and then watch the sheep lazily graze the field around him. The main KPI of his job was to keep a lookout for any hungry wolves. At nightfall, he would take his flock down to the village, and proceed to the local tavern for a glass of Schwarzbier or ten.

Over time, the boy began to struggle with the tedium of his job, so one day he decided to prank the villagers to add some spice to his mind-numbing daily routine. He figured that if he shouted for help – as they told him to do if he ever saw a wolf – they would come running to help him chase it away.

He walked to the edge of the field (and it was a fairly large field), and started shouting, “Wolf! Wolf!”

Upon hearing this, the men in the village below came running to help chase the wolf away, charging across the field with all sorts of tools – parang, cangkul, leaf blower, you name it. One guy, who happened to be a part-time unit trust agent, brought some promotional brochures and blank EPF withdrawal forms, just in case.

The boy thought it was very funny to see the old men – many were positively overweight and borderline arthritic – came racing to help him, banging their shields and waving their their pitchforks, and shouting to frighten the wolf away.

The men looked everywhere but much to their dismay, there was no wolf. They did a quick roll call to ensure that every sheep was accounted for, and then went home disgruntled, as they felt they could have used a bit of excitement and action.

The boy sniggered at the villagers, thinking that he was quite the practical joker when he was actually being mean and malicious.

The next day the boy played the same trick.

“Wolf! Help! The wolf is eating my sheep,” he cried as he ran down the hill towards the village.

The villagers – again thoroughly convinced there was a real wolf – again came charging up the hill even faster and made even more noise, chanting all sorts of mantra and singing the Italian national anthem for no particular reason, their faces turning all sorts of colours from all the exertions.

The boy was in stitches as he watched the men puffing and panting, shouting and yelling to frighten away the wolf, as he knew all too well that there was no wolf.

When the men saw the boy laughing, they realised they had tricked them yet again.

“Be careful, lad,” they said to him. “You will cry ‘Wolf!’ once too often, and there won’t be anyone here willing to help you.”

One day, while the boy was lying down under a tree and dreaming of Magdalena Frackowiak, when a real wolf came into the field and he saw the sheep grazing nearby. The wolf hadn’t eaten for days and was totally famished. He decided that a lunch of Gordon Ramsay’s famous Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb would be grand, and charged at the startled flock of sheep.

The boy woke up with a start and had the shock of his life. “Wolf! Wolf!” he cried, as he scampered off. He had never seen a big bad wolf before, except at the big book sale held at the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale in Seri Kembangan, where more than 3.5 million books were on sale at up to 95% discount.

There was nothing that he could do to protect his sheep, except shout for help. He ran as fast as he could to the edge of the field, frantically waving his arms.

But this time the men did not come. They heard the boy clearly enough, shouting and crying, but they decided that the wee lad was not going to fool anyone anymore.

“He’s having a bath if he thinks he could fool us by telling porky pies again about some imaginary wolf,” one of the men said.

“Aye!” agreed the rest, as the carried on with their serious business of getting drunk at lunchtime.

When the boy came back to the field, he found that the wolf had eaten all his sheep. There was not one of them left and the wolf had gone, too.[2] The boy sat down, forlorn and despondent, and he knew that it was all his fault. He had tricked the men before with his lies and no one was ever going to believe him anymore.

From that day onwards, the boy never did again indulge in falsely and deliberately arousing public alarm, even when social media came along and magnified the democratisation of information dissemination.

Free from the clutches of fear mongering and deception, the village prospered after a sustained period of improved budgetary discipline and robust monetary policy. Inflation averaged just over 2% per annum, notwithstanding the soaring global energy and food prices, and nominal interest rates are at a low not seen since Liverpool FC last won the English League.

The End.

[1] Not to be confused with the other German shepherd, which is a large dog of a breed often used as guard dogs or guide dogs or for police work.
[2] How on God’s great earth a single wolf could eat a whole flock of sheep in one go is a topic for another day.

#12: The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Reloaded

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