The First Day
In the Bavarian village of Oftsdorp, 1435, a strange atmosphere hung in the town hall.
Everyone in the village had packed themselves into the small, ornate building. Some were shouting, some were crying, most didn’t make a sound. Finally the fat mayor clambered onto the wooden plinth and addressed the crowd:
“There will be no more bear attacks in Oftsdorp. Not one. This is my promise to you all.”
The mayor waited for the clapping to stop before moving through the crowd and heading into the winter night. Back home he lit a candle, sat at his desk and said ‘fuck’, but in Old German.
The Next Day
The next day, the mayor sent messages to every bear consultant is Southern Bavaria. All nine of them responded to his invitation, which was a relief. Like everyone else in the village of Oftsdorp, he didn’t really know anything about bears, apart from the fact they had horns.
Four Days After That
All nine bear consultants arrived on horseback four days later, which was a bit awkward. The inn was full so two of them had to stay in a nearby village.
One Day Later
The mayor interviewed the consultants the next day in his private quarters. All of them looked ferocious, they all had battle scars, and they all told wild tales about hand-to-hand combat with bears.
But although they seemed the real deal, they all had different answers to the mayor’s questions. What does a bear look like? Where do the bears live? How do I defend myself against a bear? Are the citizens of Oftsdorp safe in the church?
If they all had a different approach to tackling the bear problem, which approach was the right one?
A bell rang, signalling it was time for the mayor’s sponge bath. The final interview would have to wait until tomorrow.
Another Day Later
The final bear consultant was 15 minutes late, and arrived as the mayor was heading out the door.
Annoyed, he beckoned the consultant in. The mayor quickly noticed by how differently this consultant behaved. His sleeves were long and so any scars were hidden. Plus, his stories of bear attacks were matter-of-fact - even underwhelming.
Before leaving, he carefully placed three manuscripts on the table… ‘A Map of All Bear Sightings in Southern Bavaria’, ‘Encyclopaedia on the True Nature of Bears’, and ‘A Guide to Building Ammunition to Deter Bears’.
“Keep them”, the long-sleeved consultant said.
Yet Another Day Later
The mayor had bags under his eyes.
His late night reading had informed him how dangerous bears were. Bears had been seen several times within five acres of the village in the past month alone. Instead of horns, they had claws and teeth. And the easiest way to get rid of them was with a gunpowder rifle, which no one in Oftsdorp owned.
With his new knowledge of bears, the mayor sent all the bear consultants packing (with a souvenir snow globe of his picturesque village to make the trip worth their while).
Almost all the bear consultants.
The long-sleeved bear consultant waved his competitors goodbye from his just-assembled bear tent HQ. Then he got to work on delivering his core services (’the bear necessities’), along with a bunch of add-ons including ‘bear drills’ and anti-bear feng shui.
One year later
At the next village meeting, the mayor was delighted to announce a 100% improvement to bear-related deaths. Since the bear consultant delivered his services, only one villager was killed by a bear. Prost!