this contest that a retail giant is currently having and that the folks in my city have become enamoured with. (We currently stand at #2 in the contest.)
There once lived a Shop Keep that lived in a wondrous and magical land. His name was Will Mart.
Will Mart sold potions, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and infant diapers at reasonable prices. People from across the land would drive their chariots minutes on end to purchase fairy dust in bulk or a new George Foreman Grill. The parking lot was always a mess.
Will was both hated and beloved in his mythical land. Yes, he employed many poor peasants, but he paid them all but 3 farthings a week and offered them no benefits. (I'm not sure what a "farthing" is, but it made sense for this story. I'm sure 3 of them is about minimum wage.)
Mr. Mart never once sold herbs and sorcery equipment produced by the local craftsmen, for he had connections to cheap suppliers across the sea in Never-Never Land and China. The local craftsmen despised Will Mart and called him names like "Fart-Knocker" and other cruel terms that are too offensive to include in a parable or on a family blog.
Nevertheless, many of the townsfolk flocked to Will Mart's shop to obtain discounted medicines for their ill-torn children and those stretchy workout bands for their basement Rec Rooms. Others in the town refused to frequent Will's shop, for the crowds were irksome, the noise was plentyful and there were HDTV's hanging from the ceiling, blaring commercials for the merchandise. Folks hated those TVs.
Some of the townsfolk even built a new bulletin board in the Town Square. They would draw pictures of strange looking people with freakish features, going in and out of Will's Mart and post them for others to mock and harass. They called this bulletin board "People of Will's Mart Dot Board." People loved to laugh at the ugliness of those that shopped at Will's Mart.
Will's Mart became so popular, he eventually placed a Blacksmith at the front of his store, as well as a Subway. They were soon joined by a bank and some magical coin slots that make the children beg their parents for farthings. Folks loved the ability to get their horse re-shoed while ordering a six inch meatball with American cheese.
Yes, Will Mart's Mart was a magically fantastical place; or an evil, soul crushing cold sore on the community, depending on how you look at it.
Will was a corrupt but smart man and he knew he was not well beloved in all spheres of the land. His influence stretched from the badlands in the East to the wetlands in the West. He knew that because of his business model and the fact that he paid the peasants he employed mere farthings, his shop's public image was suffering. It was in the winter of the ninth year of the rein of King Foxenberg, that the sinister Will Mart hatched his wicked plan.
Many signs were posted of the decree throughout the forests.
The townsfolk were flabbergasted by this news. One million farthings was enough farthings to buy a lifetime supply of magical potions and disease ridden cows to supply the family with milk! They wondered about Mr. Mart's true intentions. They contemplated if he had somehow turned kind-hearted. Certainly, one million farthings was nothing to Mr. Mart. He could give every family in the kingdom one million farthings and still have thirty million farthings to himself if he wanted.
Many of the families sang about this unforeseen news using their best opera voices while dancing around the town square, holding buckets of water and looking towards the clouds. (This seemed fitting for this story.)
A long line soon formed in front of Will Mart's Mart. Thousands of peasants from the Orangutan Forests in the West to the Huckleberry Cottages in the South came to tell Mr. Mart that they liked him as many times as they could.
Soon, arguments began to arise from the crowd. Each family thought they were more deserving than the others. One man yelled, "My boy, Tiny Tim uses a cane and talks all weepy like. Surely, we are deserving of the one million farthings!" A woman responded, "What about my family? I live with seven grubby dwarfs and not a one of them has found a damn thing in those mines for ages!"
The evil Mr. Mart simply sat back in his chair and soaked in the attention. Not only did he have a long line of people telling him how much they liked him, but now he had the entire kingdom talking about his "generous" offer and quarrelling over the farthings.
Mr. Mart, being the treacherous genius that he was, understood that he was still hated by many of the townsfolk and that they would never, ever tell him "I like you" to his face. He decided to send out a new decree.
"YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SAY 'I LIKE YOU' TO MR. MART TO GET CREDIT FOR YOUR LIKE. YOU ONLY HAVE TO SAY YOU LIKE WHAT HE IS DOING TO HELP THE POOR FAMILY."
This new decree was hung in the trees of the forest next to the first decree, which were still hanging.
Accusations of cheating swarmed through the air like the miniature dragons and butterflies that circled the valley skies.
Alas, the judgement day arrived and Mr. Mart stood on the roof of his shop to make the announcement. Thousands of townsfolk gathered round to hear word of who would be taking home the one million farthings to their starving children. Mr. Mart wore his coat of many colors and stood tall to make the announcement.
"AND THE WINNER OF THE ONE MILLION FARTHINGS, WITH 372, 599 LIKES IS... THE GRUFFINGTON FAMILY FROM THE PROVINCE OF FRAGGLE ROCK!"
And so it was that the townsfolk boo'd and whistled and turned their backs in shame. And so it was that the contest was soon forgotten and Mr. Mart went on being both loved and hated in his own community.
A month later, Mr. Mart added a pedicure place to the front of his shop.
Thus lived and died, Mr. Mart - a man who would do anything to be liked, except offer his employees health insurance.
If you have read this far, kudos to you. I did not intend for this post to be this long, but I hope you enjoyed it. Just a couple news items...
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