The Creature Comforts
Industrialist C. J. Bastee was a successful businessman, whose motto was to work hard and be hard, proved it everyday by cutting cost to the bone no matter what the cost to workers or their safety. Matter of fact, his worker’s fear made him feel more important. He would use every opportunity to intimidate them or threaten their job security, by given them some impossible task to do and fire them, if they did not complete it.
His newest acquisition was a factory farm, that turned out more meat than any other farm in the country. He was determined to increase it’s profit margin even larger. He was visiting the farm for the first time around 5 P. M. on a Friday, just as everything was shutting down for the weekend. He was looking over the farm operations with the current manager.
“What about the size of these cages” Mr. Bastee pointed out.
“You want them larger, so the animals could move around more”, the farm manager asked.
“No! Hell No! I want them smaller, only enough space for the animal itself”, Bastee scolded.
“But Mr. Bastee”, the farm manager said, “They won’t be comfortable. They will develop sores where the cage rubs against their skin”, the farm manager said.
“What do I care, they’re going to die anyway”, Mr. Bastee replied.
“What about this feed you’re using. Do you know what the feed cost is on this top quality grain? Use grass, ground corn stalks and weeds. That will increase the overall profits”, Mr. Bastee stated.
The farm manager’s face was now getting red.
C. J. Bastee was a small man in stature, but he was always throwing his weight around, especially with his employees, seeing they had to put up with his harassment or get fired.
Finally, Mr. Bastee crossed the line when he told the farm manager he was going to start killing the animals by electrocution, because it was cheaper.
“You can’t do that, I won’t let you”, the farm manager said.
“You won’t let me. You’re fired! You are a dime a dozen manager. I had planned on firing you anyway. I only want employees who jump when I speak. And don’t bother using this place as a reference. As far as I’m concerned you’re through in this business. I am a big man in”…
At that moment, the farm manager picked up the diminuitive industrialist and stuffed him in one of the animal cages, flipping the latch shut. The manager walked toward the door and left.
“You can’t leave me in here, I’ll sue”, yelled Mr. Bastee. The manager had already gone. “Get me out of here. Can anybody hear me? Hello. Anybody out there!”
No one was there. Well, this was an unexpected turn of events. Nobody had ever stood up to him before.
Mr. Bastee discovered he could not move his arms, because they were pinned to his side between each side of the cage. He couldn’t move his head or his feet. Uncomfortable to say the least.
He tried for an hour to find a way to open the cage, but he could not move an inch.
After a few hours, he had to go to the bathroom, but there was no chance of that. He held it in for a few hours, but eventually, he had no choice, but to go in his clothes. This situation was most unpleasant and getting worse by the hour.
Around 2 A.M. Saturday morning, he was tired enough to go to sleep, but he couldn’t. He was in pain. The cages was causing sores on his body, even through his suit. He looked around and the animals were asleep, because they had room in their cages to turn around in.
He looked at the animals sleeping and longed for the comfort they had. Around 2:15 A.M. he thought he would go mad. He smelled, he was hungry, he was in pain and he thought he was losing his mind. He could now add boredom to his list of discomforts.
He yelled at the animals, so they would wake up and keep him company. They would only wake up for a few seconds and then quickly fall back to sleep.
He prayed and asked God for help, but he heard nothing. He bargained with God and told Him how much money he would give to God’s causes, but he still heard nothing. Finally, as he reached what he thought was the end of his sanity, he heard something.
“Repent” he heard in a soft voice. He wondered if he really had heard anything, but he wasn’t going to blow it, so he started saying to God, “I repent. Can you hear me God, I repent?” He heard nothing.
Mr. Bastee cried out, “I’m doing what you asked, why won’t you answer me?” He still heard nothing!
It was getting hard for him to breath. As he labored to breath, he heard the voice say, “To the animals”. “What”, he said to the voice. “Repent to the animals”, the voice said softly.
“Are you kidding?” Mr. Bastee said. “Get me out of here!” He screamed. This was proof to him he was going crazy.
It was now 5:15 A. M. and he was now staring at the animals, who were staring back at him.
“What are you all looking at!” he screamed.
He was unable to hold on anymore. Physically he might make it with some injury to his body. But mentally and spiritually, he believed he would not be able to hold out till Monday morning.
It was 5:20 A.M. and he was now looking at a cow, who was looking back at him. He noticed that all of the animals were now looking at him, as if they were waiting on him to do something.
As he watched them in his humbled position, it was as if he was seeing through their eyes. He thought, how can they live like this. As he thought this, he heard the soft voice say, “They can’t”.
With tears welling up in his eyes, he scanned the faces of the animals who were still looking at him and said, “I’m sorry”. As he scanned back in the other direction, he looked at the cow, who was starring at him intently and said to him, “I’m sorry”.
After a moment, the cow came over to the cage and nudged the latch gently, till it unlatched and the cage door swung open.
Mr. Bastee was stunned. He could not believe what had just happened. He spoke to the cow and said, “Did you understand what I have been saying? Could you have done this sooner? Were you waiting for me to repent? How could you have known? Did God talk to you too?
The cow just looked at him with big eyes, but it seemed that there was compassion in the cow’s eyes. Like there was a desire to relieve his suffering. If so, he thought, what irony that the soul of this cow cared when he, a grown intelligent man…maybe too intelligent…did not.
It took an hour for Mr. Bastee to slowly get out of the cage that his body had now conformed to. He was definitely injured, especially in his neck and ankles with dozens of sores and bruises all over his body.
He limped out the door, stopping only once to look over his shoulder to see the animals, still looking at him. “Things will be better…I promise”, he said to the animals as he left.
On Monday morning at 7:30 A.M., Mr. Bastee’s lawyer came to the factory farm and shut it down. He layed off most of the employees, giving them a month’s severance pay. Those that fed the animals and took care of them remained employed. They were instructed to free all animals that were in the cages and look after their medical needs, until Mr. Bastee could be there in person.
Mr. Bastee was checked into the county hospital for two weeks, until most of his injuries were healed.
With his new, more redemptive mindset, he decided to forgive the former manager, who had put him into the cage, because he saw it as some greater plan of God.
He reopened the farm as a petting farm for youngsters, who could come and play with the animals and learn more about them. Mr. Bastee moved his personal residence to the farm, so he could be close to his animals and the outdoors.
As Mr. Bastee himself was giving a tour one day, the cow that had saved him walked up and nuzzled his head underneath Mr. Bastee’s hand. One of the children asked what was the cow’s name. Mr. Bastee looked at the cow, who’s head he was petting and said, “His name is Teacher”.
This spiritual story was written by Mark Edgemon who has been writing for 30 years. He writes and publishes short stories, articles, poetry and scripts as well as, produces audio comedy productions for over 700 radio stations nationwide.