Saturday, November 14, 2015

…And The Alpaca You Came In On


A good friend from college recently responded to a Craig’s List posting for a Caretaker of a ranch outside of town. According to what he saw in the advertisement, it would be the perfect position. He is a true outdoors-man having spent over 20 years in the rugged mountains of Colorado. Watching over a large ranch is a perfect job for him.

On Saturday, he arose before dawn to ride out to meet the owner and check out the ranch. It was nice enough with plenty of land and large views of the countryside. There was a herd of Alpaca on the ranch. That was part of the deal. Take care of the flock and the property. But here’s the rub. When they were discussing payment, the owner talked about rent. Not a salary for being a caretaker. Not rent in exchange for watching over the property. No, she was talking rent for the "privilege" of watching over her animals and land.

My friend was of course taken aback. His choice words to the owner began with the letter “F” and then “you” and ended with the classic refrain “…and the Alpaca you came in on.”

This situation illustrates the modern phenomenon of people wanting their cake and to eat it too. Rather than find a way to create win/win/win agreements, they attempt to create win/lose agreements. They push the boundaries of common sense and common decency. It is yet another example of unconscious people trying to do business.

This is why we love conscious businesses (Trader Joe’s, Southwest Airlines, and COSTCO in the U.S.). They play by a different set of rules. They bend over backwards to make the customer happy, the employees happy, and the investor happy, all at the same time. Not a bad way to roll.

Note: An alpaca (Vicugna pacos) is a domesticated species of South American camelid. It resembles a small llama in appearance.