First Letter From Edd to the Slackers

1 One day, the Great Pirate Solomon summoned his two sons and set them a challenge.

2 ‘I require 10, 000 cubits of pasta, brought from the farthest, most inaccessible port in China. 3 Whosoever provideth the pasta first will be rewarded with one of my finest asses.’

4 Now, the Pirate Solomon was heralded far and wide as a breeder of amazing pack animals. 5 Each of his donkeys was worth its weight in gold and could carry enough dry pasta to feed an army. 6 It was rumoured that twin donkeys had been born recently, however, that could carry ten times the weight of the next strongest animal and were so intelligent that training them took little effort.

7 The two brothers rushed to the shipyard to set sail.

8 The first son did a quick inspection of his ship and set forth almost immediately even though he had several leaks calling for attention. 9 ‘I dare not spend time and money on repairs,’ thought the pirate prince. 10 ‘A quick coating of pitch will do the job.’

11 He launched with a raggedy crew comprised of as many loiterers from the docks as he could bribe with a promise of easy money and began to take on water almost instantly. 12 He and his men bailed to no avail and had to return after only a few hours.

13 Meanwhile, the other son was patching up his ship with superior materials while he waited for the men he had invited along on his expedition. 14 When the eldest returned he was gladdened to see that his brother had not yet put out to sea. 15 Reluctantly and hurriedly he managed to get his ship in adequate shape for his voyage pausing only to shanghai more men to man the oars just as his brother unfurled his sails.

16 The bandit brothers sailed for weeks; first one would be in the lead, then the other. 17 The eldest had rowers to supplement the wind, but many had to be put to work bailing water and mending the leaks that continued to appear due to his rushed and shoddy work. 18 And his sails were in pitiful shape compared to the younger brother’s. 19 In the end, the bedraggled boat pulled into the Chinese harbor only half a day ahead of the other.

20 With as much haste as he could manage, the eldest pirate acquired the necessary pasta. 21 He stole what he could but was forced to sell some of his men into slavery to purchase the rest (there had been talk of mutiny, in any case). 22 Tired, hungry, and running from Chinese guards, the eldest set out on his return trip just as his brother’s boat appeared over the horizon. 23 He laughed to himself and tried to cheer up his crew: ‘Before long, men, I shall posses one of my father’s greatest treasures and you will be rewarded handsomely!’

24 While the first ship creeped its way homeward despite the best efforts of the first mate to drive the rowers to superhuman lengths, the second son docked and began negotiations with the Chinese Keepers of the Pasta.

25 Many days later, a messenger ran up to the Great Pirate Solomon crying, ‘My lord, your son has returned!’

26 ‘Escort him here so that I may reward him.’

27 ‘And your other son, sire? 28 His ship has been spotted also.’

29 ‘Ah. Bring them both before me and my two prize animals, as well.’

30 And so it was that both sons of the infamous pirate Solomon were presented to their father; one dirty, unkempt, and wild-eyed, the other, calm, confident, and standing tall. 31 ‘Have you both brought the consecrated carbohydrates?’ asked their father. 32 The sons stood aside so that he might view the mounds of spaghetti, tortellini, fettuccine, fusilli, and ziti that had been piled behind them.

33 The stacks of foodstuffs were as different as the brothers. 34 One was clean, neat, and easily over 10,000 cubits with such an aroma many in the room would have sworn it was fresh even knowing that it had been brought from China. 35 The other was rotting, full of insects, and much less. 36 ‘Who was the first to arrive?’ asked the Great Pirate Solomon, giving a disgusted look as a rat ran out of the smaller pile.

37 ‘I was, father!’ cried the eldest. 38 ‘And I am here to claim my prize of your greatest donkey, as you promised.’

39 ‘With that?’ 40 He gestured toward the putrid pile of pasta. 41 ‘Record-keeper, how many cubits is it?’

42 ‘Five thousand, my lord,’ the scribe replied, reading the measurements scrawled in his notes.

43 ‘And my other son’s offering?’

44 ‘Twelve thousand cubits.’

45 ‘I have decided,’ boomed the brigand. 46 ‘You, my eldest son, have not fulfilled the requirements I set before you, so the animal goes to your brother.’

47 ‘Do I get nothing for my efforts?!’ whined the loser as he watched his sibling lead the great beast out of the chamber and the servants packed away the pasta. 48 ‘I spent time, money, and effort at great personal risk to bring this back!’

49 Visibly angry, his father stood up and proclaimed, ‘You believe you deserve recompense?! 50 Very well. 51 Since you have done a half-ass job, you will receive half an ass!’

52 The Great Pirate Solomon grabbed his ceremonial scimitar and struck his remaining donkey, cleaving it in two.

53 ‘Now get your ass out of here! 54 And someone clean up all this blood and guts, it’s grossing me out.’

55 So, remember this story when you are tempted to cut corners in your work, be it personal, occupational, or otherwise. 56 Taking pride in your endeavours makes a world of difference and is well worth the effort.