The Parable of the Turd With Wheels

One day on the way to class a student saw what appeared to be a huge steaming human turd in the middle of the hall. When he got to class, he said to his teacher gushing with righteous disgust, “please tell me why I am paying all of this money to go to a college where there are huge steaming human turds just laying in the hall?”

The professor replied “I hadn’t heard that there was a huge steaming human turd laying in the hall, but you can believe me when I say I will get to the bottom of it!” (Two young women in the back row giggled at the unintended meaning of his words).

After class the professor called the Dean of his college, who called the office of the Provost, who called an emergency meeting of the faculty council, to be held one hour hence at the site of the huge steaming human turd.

An hour passed and a quorum of the faculty council convened. The provost said to the assembled, “it has been brought to our attention by a student that there is a huge steaming human turd sitting at this very spot.  I would like to request a motion to set aside the normal parliamentary rules and move directly to a discussion of how to respond to this huge steaming human turd’s existence.”

“So moved!” came a voice from the crowd.

“Call for question!” came another.

“Could you read the motion one more time before we vote?” offered someone meekly in the rear.

The motion passed by a vote on 22 Aye, 0 Nay, 2 abstain (They were in the back filling their plates from the provided lunch buffet and had not seen the huge steaming human turd first-hand).

“So, I open the floor for a discussion of what to do about the huge steaming turd,” said the Chair of the faculty committee.

A member of the Communications program spoke up. “I see this as less as a problem that there is a huge steaming turd on the floor than of how we first perceive and then respond to the huge steaming turd’s existence.  I suggest that from this point forward we refer to the object of discussion as a Defecatory Emission Engine—the only one of its kind in the Northeast.”

A Fine Arts professor retorted, “Machine? This is no machine. This is brilliant! Don’t you see? This huge steaming turd did not appear here by accident! It is an artistic statement. It is the product of modern corporatized education lying before us? It defines its space even as it defiles its space. We should find its creator and give her a grant!”

And on it went. The engineers (who by the way had christened it the HST 1000) wanted to build in some servomotors, photo sensors and wheels so that the huge steaming turd could move around on its own. A mathematician calculated its decay rate at the ambient temperature and assured the assembled that in 72 hours and 31 minutes the problem would solve itself. A social scientist went on for a good twenty minutes about the last time a huge steaming turd was found in the middle of the floor—a much huger, steamier turd than this.

“Maybe we don’t need to change the huge steaming turd at all,” said an historian. “We should just have our PR people do a better job of letting the public know that we have a huge steaming turd in our hallway. I mean, what are those people being paid for anyway?”​

Soon everyone was talking at once, and the volume was growing louder and louder.  About the only thing that the body as a whole could agree on was the addition of wheels–a huge steaming turd on wheels appealed to them–but even that was insufficient mass from which to develop consensus.

As the debate raged on, a custodian sidled through the angry crowd with his bucket, dustpan and mop. When he got to the turd he calmly scooped it up, deposited it in the trash receptacle, and mopped the spot on the floor where it had been.

The chair of the meeting challenged him.​ “What on earth were you thinking, sir! This august body has spent the past couple of hours deciding how to fix this huge steaming turd!”

The custodian responded, “I don’t have a fancy degree and all, but I didn’t come here to fix the turd. I came here to fix the floor.”​


About bigshotprof

College Professor in the Communication Studies department at Pace University. My personal life fall somewhere in the gap between less than you want to know and more than you need to know.
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