Sunday’s Wisdom #76: On Silver Platters

“Never trust a silver platter.”
– Long John Silver, Muppet Treasure Island

Long John says this exactly when he and his pirate flunkies have obtained the treasure map, sighted the island in question, and are being sent ashore by their Captain Smollet “to restock food and provisions, taking as long as they need.” It’s a trap, of course. Now that Smollet has learned of Silver’s duplicity, he has a simple plan for dealing with the pirates that have been right under his nose the whole time: maroon the lot of them on the island for a year or so before returning with adequate force to subdue them.

Just as the boats are being lowered to the water, Silver’s sidekick mentions how fortuitous this all is for them, like handing the treasure to them on a silver platter! But Silver, cunning and wary as he is, knows better than to trust golden opportunities on silver platters. When things are too easy, it’s usually a trap of some sort. So Silver quickly turns the tables by kidnapping young Jim Hawkins, thus thwarting Smollet’s plan, because the good guys can’t just abandon one of their own.

Smollet would have done well not to trust his own silver platter. When things are too easy, even if that’s how we want them to be, that’s usually when things go most wrong.

There are so many stories from both real life and fiction where people suddenly get whatever they want, all for so little, so very little, cost, and life is great… until the other boot falls and they find themselves crushed beneath.

I remember this one time, when I was searching for a job, and getting a bit desperate. I responded to this one ad on Craigslist and came in for an interview. It turned out to be a group interview, and the job was basically acting as part of a team to sell vacuums door-to-door. The people who were looking to hire us painted a pretty rosy picture, with emphasis on a big, fat paycheck. I didn’t notice anything at all wrong, but I suddenly got a very uneasy feeling. It all seemed good, very good, perhaps, in fact… a little too good.

It was a silver platter: something I wanted very much, to be obtained supposedly with ease.

I only learned the details much later: that my prospective employers were shady businessmen, looking to take advantage of me.

So, from my own experience, I say: it’s not bad to be giddy about fantastic opportunities, but a bit of healthy, rational caution never hurts. 😉

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