It was a bright sunny day. In the meadow, Joel the shepherd was tending his flock as he had done for every day of his life, as his father had done, as his grandfather had done before that. The results of their labours? The massive flock currently removing all traces of lush meadow grass.
Off in the distance, the shepherd noticed a cloud of dust approaching along the road. He watched it approach and gradually a BMW X5 resolved within the dust cloud. The sun glinted off its metallic silver exterior. The engine roared through supercharged muscle exhausts.
The X5 passed the gate to the meadow and then, a couple of hundred yards later, screeched to a halt, reversed along the road and drove through the gate. It pulled up in front of the shepherd. The door opened and a tall man stepped out. The shepherd had never seen an Armani suit, didn’t know Raybans from regular gas-station shades and certainly had never witnessed $400 loafers. Until now.
The newcomer strode purposefully up to Joel and thrust out his hand, firmly grasping that of the shepherd.
“Hi,” he said.
“Er… Hello?” Joel replied, raising an eyebrow.
Still shaking hands, the clothes-horse smiled at the shepherd. “I have a proposition for you,” without taking a breath, he continued onward, “if I can tell you how many sheep are in your flock, in this field, will you give me a single sheep?”
Joel looked at the man. Looked at the sheep. Looked back at the man.
“Go on, then,” he said.
The suit walked to the back of the car, opened the hatch and pulled out a cellphone, a PDA, a laptop and a satellite dish. His fingers began to work over all his devices, rapidly becoming a blur as he entered figures and checked results. Every so often, he would glance across the field for a moment.
Joel watched this, working hard not to laugh. The guy wasn’t even looking at the sheep… How did he possibly hope to count them?
Finally, the suit punched the air.
He turned to Joel and smiled. “You, sir, have 3,642 sheep in this field.”
Joel was stunned. “How… You… How… did you…”
“Am I right?”
Joel nodded, still unable to speak.
“So I can have a sheep?”
Joel nodded again. Give or take the odd one, he was absolutely right.
The stranger took his prize and lifted it into the back seat of the X5.
“Thank you,” he said, “I’ll be on my way now…”
He walked back to the car and opened the driver’s door.
“Just a minute,” Joel said from behind him, “if I can tell you what you do for a living, can I win my sheep back?”
The suit thought for a moment. “That seems a bit easy,” he said, “you could just keep guessing until you got it right.”
“So how about one guess,” Joel countered.
Without pause, Joel said, “you’re a consultant.”
The consultant was dumbfounded. First time. With no clues. “How did you do that?” His voice was full of wonder.
“Wasn’t too difficult,” he said, “firstly, you came here without an invitation… Secondly, you got paid for telling me something I already know… And finally, you don’t know what you’re talking about… So it’s obvious you’re a consultant.”
“But… But I told you how many sheep you have… Of course I know what I’m talking about.”
Jed continued to smile.
“If you really know what you’re talking about,” he said, “how come you’ve just put my sheepdog into the back of your fancy Jeep?”