Once upon a time there was a train that travelled from one end of our country to the other. It was a typical journey, one made many times before, so none of the passengers thought anything about it.
But the company in charge of the rail line and the trains was seeking ways to increase profits, so they cut a few corners and let a few safety issues slide. For one thing, they got rid of the unionized work force and replaced it with monkeys. Yes, real monkeys. It’s hard to figure out what they were thinking, but the monkeys did work for next to nothing, so costs were reduced to a few bunches of bananas.
At first the passengers dared not allow themselves to believe what they saw. Nobody could be so stupid and greedy as to staff their trains with an all-monkey crew. Surely there must be some actual human beings in the engine room and in other critical areas. After all, this train had taken the journey many times and there had never been any major incidents before. At least, none of the passengers recalled seeing anything about it in the news. And so they all remained silent, pushing their concerns and fears down, distracting themselves with the video screens that were provided by the train company. These, at least, were in fine working order.
But as the train began to pull away from the station and pick up steam, the sound of the train was not at all healthy. It sounded like wheels and gears might fall off the train at any moment. But as loud as the clattering was, the sound of the chattering of monkeys could still be heard.
Until eventually the sound got to be too much for one of the passengers. He stood up from his seat and told the other passengers of his concerns if they didn’t do anything. But all it took was one passenger to call him crazy before everyone on his side of the train took up the chant “crazy man, crazy man.” Those sitting beside him had no desire to get in between the man who warned against their danger and the crowd on the other side of the aisle who called him crazy. After all, they were just on the train to get from point A to Point B. This wasn’t their fight, and besides, they were deeply engrossed in the movies they were watching on their screens. And so when the crowd from the other side of the train grabbed the man and threw him from the train, it was rather easy for them to get back to watch their Avengers movie or Two And A Half Men episode, or whatever it was that helped them wile away the time until they eventually reached their destination. They put their listening devices back into their ears and turned up the volume.
But truth be told, they could never fully block out the screeching of the wheels or the monkeys. It wasn’t as relaxing a trip as they all let on.
But before too long, the video one passenger was watching malfunctioned, and he was left alone with nothing but the squealing machinery and moronic mouthings of monkeys to occupy his attention. Until he could stand it no more and he rose to his feet, saying what everyone was thinking but nobody was willing to admit.
And this time, the man’s wife arose with him.
When one had spoken up, they considered him a madman. But when two spoke up, they called it a nuisance. It was a couple from the side that had dumped the last person off the train. And belonging to the same crowd, this group had no desire to toss one of their own off the train. But they still weren’t real happy about the disturbance. So when a group from the other side of the train grabbed the couple and bound and gagged them, nobody did anything.
But that was not the end of it. A little further into the journey, a dozen had gotten up the courage to speak out. Perhaps it was not courage so much as they were unable to live with the noise anymore. Now if one person was considered mad and two people were considered a nuisance, a dozen was considered a threat. This could perhaps lead to a shutting down of the train entirely, and that would be an inconvenience to everyone involved. The train had made this journey many times before, surely this time would be no different. All they had to do was silence the mob before it got out of hand.
But this time it was not so simple. There were people from both sides of the train clamoring for people’s attention. And even as they did so, more people turned down the volume on the shows they had been watching in order to see what the fuss was about. And doing so, they heard the shrieking of the wheels and the mad chatter of the monkeys that pretended to be running things when they had no understanding but only attitude.
Looking out the window, they saw they were approaching a bridge that had collapsed and not been repaired. And looking around the people on the right side of the aisle and the left side of the aisle, the people seated in front and the people in the back, all realized they were on the same train together and would share the same fate.
Were they able to stop the train before it plunged to ruin into a gorge? Were they able to wrest the control of the train away from the monkeys? I cannot say, but at the very least it could be said that they finally got off their dead asses, took control, and gave it a try.
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