Employing someone to tell you what you know
A journalist’s life can be fun, with invitations to lunch at the Ivy etc. But – often there is a down-side. I know I won’t get much sympathy, but recently I have been driven to distraction sitting in meetings run by Consultants employed by NHS, cancer charities etc. So when this old story popped up in my Inbox I read and re-read it, thinking this says it all.
Sid, a farmer, was overseeing his stock in a remote moorland pasture in North Yorkshire, when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust.
The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the farmer, “If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?”
Sid looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing stock and calmly answers, “Sure, why not?”
The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASApage on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo.
The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany .
Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response.
Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer, turns to the farmer and says, “You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.”
“That’s right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,” says Sid.
He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on with amusement as the young man stuffs it into the back of his car.
Then Sid says to the young man, “Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?” The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, “Okay, why not?”
“You’re a Consultant for our Government”, says Sid.
“Wow! That’s correct,” says the yuppie, “but how did you guess that?”
“No guessing required.” answered the farmer. “You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions of pounds worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don’t know a thing about how working people make a living – or about cows, for that matter. This is a herd of sheep. …
Now give me back my dog!