This is a tale of lost opportunities and enduring misery. It ought to make you cry. It certainly cause me to drench my shirt front.

There was once a man named Afrascadan. He was an Arabian Gypsy, if such a thing is possible. If it is not, remember that this is semi-fiction and make the necessary adjustments.

Afrascadan was a member of a traveling circus. 

I think we should break for a moment to let our Generation Y readers rush to wikipedia to find out what a circus is. For those youngins who cannot open extra windows because you are reading this on your wap-enabled cellphones, and for those who we cannot allow to leave because Gen Y has the attention span of a comma, and if you go you won’t come back, let me give you a short definition. Circuses were a form of entertainment that was very popular in the past. The world lost interest around the mid-eighties, however. These circuses were known to feature animals (including horses) and acrobats. 

Afrascadan was double-jointed, very agile, had perfect eyesight and was extremely lean. He was employed at the circus stables as a shit-shoveller. His brief involved shoveling the horses’ shit out of the circus stables.

Now, any wise and conscientious man will tell you that there is honour in an honest day’s work, and no matter how demeaning some say your job is, you can still be proud of it as long as you do it well. 

In short, if you accept a paycheck for shoveling shit, you should shovel all of it, or quit.

Of course nowhere is it said that you have to like it. Just make sure you do it well while you hate it. Afrascadan complained constantly, but he nevertheless shoveled thoroughly and efficiently. He was one of the finest feces dispatchers in the whole of Gypsy Arabia in fact, and would have been famous for it if only people weren’t so averse to discussing his occupation. 

One day a man named Galliano dropped by from his own piece of fiction and, having a very keen eye for talent, noticed Afrascadan at work.

“You, sir, are very nimble and athletic. And apparently double-jointed too!” he said.

Afrascadan soon established that this was not a chat-up line, but was leading to a job offer. Galliano had his own circus and was ready to hire Afrascadan in the more glamourous, more rewarding position of Acrobat.

It was wonderful news for Afrascadan, who had dreamt for a long time of  life away from horse-buttocks.

Afrascadan ran off to tell Grand Swarthaman, his employer, the owner of the Arabian Gypsy Travelling Circus, that he was leaving.

Swarthaman creased his brow and made a tent with his fingers when he heard this. With an narrow look leveled at Afrascadan, he said, “Don’t leave to go to Galliano’s circus. Stay with us. I can give you a job as an acrobat right here.”

Afrascadan thought about it for a while. Certainly the choice didn’t seem to be that hard to make. Either way he was going to be an acrobat. He could stay here, at a place he was familiar with, or he could dare the unknown and see what Galliano had to offer. 

He decided to stay.

Ah. And now a commercial break.

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(From the people at somethingawful.com, a site I strongly urge you to visit. Ideally on company time. Click the picture to take you there)

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And we are  back.

On the great day his promotion came into effect, the administration section of the AGTC visited Afrascadan in his tent bringing with them a number of packages. They contained new acrobat robes, an acrobat hat, a shiny acrobat belt and a little bugle that he could blow to inform people that he was in fact an acrobat. Afrascadan was very excited. 

After he had put the entire outfit on, the bureaucrats shook his hand and said, “Well, it’s time to go to work. Pick up your shovel and off to the stables with you.”

Afrascadan did not understand this. What was going on?

“Well, you are an acrobat now, certainly. That is evident. All the official criteria have been met. Even the bugle. However, there is shit to shovel and we have no one to shovel it. We hope you won’t mind hitting the stables for a few more months while we find someone else. Once we get a new shoveller, you will be able to join the acrobats in their acrobat gym tent,” said the bureaucrats.

And Afrascadan had no choice. He wrapped his acrobat robe around him, picked up the shovel and walked to the stable. And the shit stank harder and than it ever had his whole career. With every minute and with every shovelful, Afrascadan grew more miserable. Every single fume of shit taunted him. I should have gone to Monitor.

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