Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jim, The Pony Taxi, Who Sounds A Lot Like an Engineer

By request, 600 words on ponies.

There once was a clever pony named Jim. He was a fine steed who loved solving the world's transportation problems, one trip at a time. When asked what he did for a living, Jim would often answer succinctly, "I make traveling easier."

And so Jim went about his days improving trip performance and finding new ways to help his customers. All the while though, a particular calling bubbled to the surface: more than anything, he really wanted his riders to be happy. Unfortunately, like most ponies, Jim wasn't just directed to wherever his customers wanted to go, but also how to get there.

The problem, Jim realized, was that he often knew how to better serve his customers than they did. It wasn't that he didn't respect his customers--certainly their destinations were important. But he felt that his years of experience in the shipping business (as the ponies refer to it) made him better qualified to plan the route.

Initially Jim marketed this idea to much interest. "Of course!" his customers exclaimed, "why should we bother ourselves with such trivial matters when we can just let the horse handle it?" Sensing their condescension, Jim didn't begin his next trip with much optimism. As he set out from Point A to Point B with a carefully planned route in mind, optimized for not just for speed but also for safety and general passenger comfort he felt confident but guarded.

His intuition was proved correct as he went left at the fork where others often went right. "Whoa there, buddy, what's going on? Let's keep with what we've always done, ok?"

"But sir," Jim suggested to the passenger, "I have considered many variables, and after a great deal of work I have planned a new, better path. Can I show you what I had in mind?"

"Not today, Jim," the passenger dismissed, "I don't want to approach the idea of changing anything at this point in the journey. We don't like surprises."

And so, dejected from resigning himself to an inferior course for no real reason or purpose, Jim backed up and continued to Point B as directed.

It wasn't long before the streets became crowded. "Why are we slowing down?" the passenger demanded.

"This old path isn't well maintained these days and with all the new traffic that's been added over the years it's become quite difficult to pass through," Jim explained.

"The new bypass I wanted to use is much quicker and smoother," he mumbled to no one in particular.

After a stressful maneuver down the old path, Jim had completed the trip. His customer thanked him and went on his way. While refreshing himself at a local gathering place of other like-minded ponies, Jim struck up a conversation with a pleasant man.

"I need to get up to Point A quick," the man said.

"I'm heading up there now," Jim replied. "Let's go. Do you want the path or the bypass?"

"You're the expert--lead the way," the passenger instructed.

"You got it."

Filled with a new sense of purpose and respect, Jim carefully merged onto the bypass and the trip to Point A went smoothly and efficiently.

"Thanks for the lift," the customer said, stepping down. "I haven't taken that route before--I liked it! Very scenic! And fast!"

"My pleasure," Jim beamed, casually passing his card, "give me a call the next time I can help."

Jim had achieved his ultimate goal of making his customers happy through modern travel. With an extra bounce in his step, exuding confidence and skill, Jim couldn't go two paces without running into a new fare. It was looking to be a busy day.