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THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER

    Once an ant and a grasshopper crossed paths after being out of touch for years.
    They hadn’t seen each other since graduating from university together. When they met again, the ant was headed for an important meeting at its business headquarters, while the grasshopper was just returning from a tropical beach somewhere. The ant was wearing a three-piece suit and a company lapel pin. The grasshopper had on a tattered straw hat and generally looked as if it was coming apart at the seams itself as well.
    After their initial surprise had worn off, the two asked each other, almost in unison, “What have you been up to all this time?” The ant told of having been unable to find steady work for years after earning its degree in English literature. It had moved from one job to another, without ever feeling secure in any of them. Regardless of its industry and dedication, the ant eventually found all of its efforts meant little when a company went through restructuring or downsizing. The ant was always among the first to be let go. 
    The grasshopper, on the other hand, told of a wildly successful career as a stock broker following graduation in finance. In a time when the market was posting new highs every session, commissions and bonuses piled up at such a rate that the grasshopper couldn’t spend them fast enough. Success became an embarrassment and then merely tedious. The grasshopper wearied of its penthouse, its Rolls and its Ferrari, multi-martini lunches, power ties, the lot. One day it sold everything and didn’t even bother to collect the profits. It bought a one-way ticket to anywhere and vanished.
    At about the same time, the ant finally and unexpectedly got the break it had been waiting for. Despondent over its lack of prospects, it had entered a jingle-writing contest for an insurance company and won. Sensing that it might have found its road to security at last, the ant threw itself into advancing the interests of the company and had done quite well, all things considered. The mortgage on its house had only another nine years to go, its kids were in private schools, and it had both a 401(k) plan and an IRA account building up. 
    When the two former classmates had completed their tales, they looked one another over with a mixture of bemusement and relief. Each thought of the turn the other’s life had taken and said to itself, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” The ant wondered what the grasshopper would do when old age came and it realized it had frittered everything away. The grasshopper wondered what the ant had done with the summer of its life.
    Following that unexpected encounter, the ant and the grasshopper went their separate ways and never set eyes on each other again. As it turned out, they both died on the same day years later. The one succumbed to heart failure at its desk, diligently working up the sales pitch for a new insurance opportunity. While the other also died of a heart attack, on the Riviera, surrounded by golden-skinned grasshopper girls.