Fribble Bulls & Tickers & Bears -- Oh My!

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By rpearl@ix.netcom.com (Rich Pearl)
October 19, 2000

Once upon a time there were two half-bothers, the Bull and the Bear. They had the same father, were very close in age, were good friends -- but never were two brothers more dissimilar. One was always sad, and the other always glad. The sad one, the Bear, always found a reason to think the worst. To him, the sky was forever falling. The Bull, on the other hand, was the eternal optimist. To him, the sun was always shining.

Often they would go together to do their shopping, and they were always arguing. The Bull was for buying everything in sight, he was never afraid of price, while the Bear was always looking for the cheapest and most discarded of everything. Sometimes it would take them literally days to decide on something.

The Bull, who did quite well in certain months, was never happier than when he shopped in his favorite china shop -- and the storekeepers loved him. In his zest to look at as many things as he could, he was often clumsy and broke things. But this didn't matter to him. He'd buy it, and just as often as not he was able to fix it, and because he was such a lucky fellow, it was not unusual for him to find it worth more than he paid for it. This experience had made him wealthy on more than one occasion, although he'd just as frequently been broke.

The Bear, who never did quite as well, but managed to do just fine despite his misgivings, was a master at looking through flea markets and beat-up old stores. He didn't like paying higher prices, value or not. He was what is called a "haggler." Storekeepers did not look forward to dealing with him. The Bear believed that everything could be gotten for less, and he often waited until it could. Sometimes, the wait could be long, and in those cases, he would hibernate.

One day the Bull and the Bear decided to try the other's stores. They had spent years trying to sway each other, to no avail. Now they made one more try at looking at things from the other's view. The Bear went into the Bull's favorite china shop. He told them he was the Bull's brother, and the storekeepers naturally got very excited. They poured him herbal teas and showed him everything, and were taken by surprise at how hard he hassled them about the prices. Soon the Bear got upset. Everything was so expensive he almost had a coronary. At one point in the arguing, his blood pressure got so high, he actually passed out and began to hibernate. Naturally, the shopkeepers were unprepared for this. They finally called the Zoo, and had him placed in a cave with a minimum of everything.

In the meantime, the Bull had gone to the Bear's favorite flea market. All he found was a smattering of undervalued items. There was not much of anything there to satisfy him. As a matter of fact, the shelves were rather bare. And the fleas made him itch incessantly, until finally he saw red, went wild, and tore the place apart. Eventually the police came and locked him away.

In the end, neither ever traveled the same path again.

Moral of the story: Always know which market you're in, and who you are.