Once upon a time, a peacock, a parrot, and a duck worked in a downtown office building. All three were dedicated to their jobs and labored very hard.
One day, they were gathered in the copy room. The peacock, who was proud, said “Perhaps you’ve seen my feathers outspread in elation. Next month, I fly to Europe for a two week vacation.” The parrot, who was a follower, liked this idea. “Me too,” he said, “I share this elation. Next month, I fly to Europe for a two week vacation.” The two birds cocked their heads and looked at the duck expectantly.
But the duck, who was odd, said “Thanks, but no thanks, Europe is not for me. All in all, I guess I’d rather be free.”
So the peacock and the parrot traveled across the waves and enjoyed themselves immensely. They returned with dozens of souvenirs, hundreds of photos, and thousands in credit card debt. The duck stayed home.
A few years later, they were all in the copy room again. The peacock, whose feathers were once again outspread, used the occasion to extol the virtues of his new BMW. The parrot, not to be outdone, said he had just bought one as well. The two birds cocked their heads and looked at the duck expectantly.
But the duck, who by now was rather set in his odd duck ways, said “Thanks, but no thanks, BMWs are not for me. All in all, I guess I’d rather be free.”
So the peacock and the parrot drove their BMWs and enjoyed themselves immensely. They went deep into debt for auto loans, paid heavily for repairs at specialty shops, and soon traded in for new models. The duck drove a used Honda for which he paid cash.
More years passed. One day, the peacock and the parrot were in the copy room without the duck. The peacock began griping about how his McMansion was costing him a wing and a leg. He said “There’s only one fix, our incomes must grow. We all need to work harder and not so slow.” The parrot wholeheartedly agreed with this sentiment because he had purchased a McMansion too.
So having spotted their common difficulty, the two left the copy room and went in search of the duck. They found him in his office. “Duck,” said both birds, “our incomes must grow. We all need to work harder and not so slow.”
The peacock and the parrot hadn’t noticed, but the duck was loading a cardboard box with his personal belongings. The duck paused what he was doing and explained that he had other plans. He and his wife had sold their small bungalow and bought a used RV for a very low price. They had mapped out a grand tour of national parks and wetland preserves. Their trip would take at least three years to complete, and maybe more.
The peacock and the parrot were stunned. They knew the duck was odd, but this tour idea seemed very odd indeed. The peacock said “Are you nuts? You’re leaving tons of money on the table. Stay here and work, you’re still young and able.” “Stay here and work,” the parrot echoed. The two birds cocked their heads and looked at the duck expectantly.
But the duck just smiled and said “Thanks, but no thanks, this job is not for me. All in all, I guess I’d rather be free.”
And with that, the duck dropped one final item into the cardboard box and waddled out of his office for the very last time. He and his wife drove off on their trip, splashed about in countless wetlands, and lived happily ever after.
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Moral of story: if a nest egg you would grow, “duck” big spending or dine on crow.
Photo Credit: Gerry Buckel (cropped to fit format). To see original photo at Flickr click here.