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James R. Stout

The Parable of the Millennial

            A 24-year-old man walked into a game store to look for a new game system that he was interested in buying. He knew something was amiss immediately. There was a table set-up in the front of the store with an old man standing behind it. On the table sat a plastic container like the kind that candy, or cookies might be held. The most startling thing was the dozen bodies of other young adults strewn around the table. None of them were alive. The man started to back out of the store, but then he noticed a large sign affixed to the front of the table. It read, “DO NOT REACH INTO THE PLASTIC TRAY!”

            The young man was intrigued and walked up to the table and looked into the tray. There was nothing there except for a few crumbs left over from whatever had been in the tray. That’s when he noticed several pieces of candy lying about on the floor amongst the dead bodies. None had been eaten or even had a bite taken out them. The young man looked at the old man and said, “What gives?”

            “Hello, young man. I’m here to explain this to you if you will listen.”

            “OK. So, what’s the deal?”   

            “First, have you noticed the small sign on the wall behind me?”

            The young man looked up and noticed the sign for the first time. It read, “If you reach into the plastic container, then you’ll be rewarded with free food, free housing, free transportation, and basically everything that you could want for free – for life!

            “Well, that sounds good to me!” the young man said enthusiastically.

            “I kind of figured you’d feel that way.” Said the old man. “But let me tell you what the sign doesn’t say. There’s a high possibility that you will die if you put your hand into the plastic container. If you die, then you obviously won’t get all that free stuff.”

            The young man bent over and looked closely into the plastic container and with the exception of a couple of crumbs there was nothing in it at all.

            “Is this some kind of trick or joke?” he asked.

            “No joke, young man. It is what it is. You don’t have to touch the container or the crumbs at all. Just put your finger into the container. That’s all you have to do. But I’m here to make sure you know the risks of doing that. I strongly suggest you leave immediately without going near the container.” Explained the old man.

            The young man stood there for a moment and looked from the container to the old man and back to the container. Finally, he looked at the old man, gray-haired and wrinkled and unsteady on his feet as he was and thought to himself the old dude was nuts. Either that or he was just stupid. Then the young man grinned a big grin and shook his head.

            “If there’s a chance that I can get all that stuff free for life, then I’ll take it. Nothing can happen to me simply by sticking my finger into the container and not touching anything.” He said.

            Then, without another word he reached down and put his finger into the container and then back out. He grinned when nothing happened.

            “See, you old fool. I’m fine. Now where’s my . . .”

            The old man watched as the young man dropped dead and landed on top of a couple of other young, but dead bodies. The old man shook his head and said, “Well, I tried telling him what would happen, but he knew better than me, I suppose.”

            About that time another young man walked into the store.

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