People ask me how the war is going, so I wrote a story. Actually, I wrote the story for our team blog at work (I’m in charge, so I make my team blog because no one can stop me), but I intentionally wrote a story I could share.
The customer enters the pet store in which you are employed and he asks you for a pony. He says that no one else has been able to provide him with a pony, but his need for the pony is quite urgent. You try to gently explain that while you are running a pet store and a pony is sort of in line with the things you are doing, you do not actually have a pony nor the ability to get him one. As far as you know, no one in town does.
The customer becomes indignant and objects vigorously. Said objections boil down to two points:
- No one else can provide him with a pony, so you must.
- He really, really needs the pony. It’s critical.
Tragically, the inability of other people to provide him with a pony has exactly zero relevance to the fact of your inability to provide him with a pony. Similarly, his desperate need does not change the sad truth that you cannot provide him with a pony.
All you can give him is a basset hound with a toy saddle which may or may not have rabies; it appears superficially like a pony if you are myopic in the extreme, but will not actually serve any conceivable purpose of a pony and may very well come back to bite you. The customer demands the possibly-rabid basset hound be called a pony, and says unkind things about you for not producing the pony when he first asked. Your boss, the store owner, tells you to sell the basset hound which most looks like a pony and least looks like it has rabies; you can call it a pony with several important caveats.
There is no pony. There never was a pony. There won’t likely ever be a pony. A pony is not a thing you can provide. You cannot ethically sell this as a pony.
Ideo bibimus (“This is why we drink”) has become sort of our team motto. Although “there is no pony” has become sort of a shorthand for a whole conversation that is not going to end well.