In a distant and interesting corner of the world there’s a high plateau.
Scattered along the top of the plateau are a number of little towns. They’re very old, and the people who live in them have been there a long, long time.
Not many people climb up the plateau, and those who do usually wind up deciding that they really like one or other of the little towns they find up there. So they stay, and the plateau towns remain largely unknown to the outside world.
But this is one of their stories.
At one end of the plateau was a town named Block. The people who lived in Block were big, heavy people with loud voices. They had big square heads and big square bodies and they shouted a lot. They were like walking bulldozers.
The bulldozer people of Block always seemed to be busy. They were impatient, and would push each other around and shove each other out of the way in their hurry to get to places and do things.
They would shout over the top of each other because each one of them knew that whatever they had to say was absolutely the most important thing that could be said right at that moment.
All of the pushing and shoving and crowding meant that Block itself got very dirty and rundown. Walls started to crack, the footpaths started to sag, things broke down and didn’t get repaired because everyone was too busy demanding that someone else should do something about it.
Eventually there came a time when Block started to become too worn out, crowded and noisy even for the people who’d lived there a long time.
“Block isn’t good enough for us now! We should visit somewhere else and see what’s there!” cried some of the big square people.
A few of them travelled along the plateau to the next town – a quiet place named Sekund. There was more space there, and the people weren’t very good at standing up to the big square bodies of the bulldozer people when they started behave the way they did at home.
The news got back to Block quickly, and more and more of the big square people moved along the plateau away from their old homes and into Sekund.
They pushed their way in. They pushed the Sekunders out of their way, or pushed them around and shouted at them.
“We are visitors you know! You’re supposed to treat us well – bring us food and something to drink!” they would shout.
Some of the Sekunders thought that this was a way to behave that really got results, so they started to do the same things. They pushed people around and shouted and demanded that things be done for them.
They never even noticed that the more they behaved like this, the more their bodies and heads started to change shape. They were starting to look just like the people from Block as well as act like them.
The poor little town of Sekund hadn’t been built for rough treatment. The streets were narrower than those in Block. Shouting voices echoed and sounded even louder, and the walls and footpaths quickly started to crack and crumble.
Soon many of the big square bodied people had started to move along the plateau again, pushing their way into another town, and another after that.
Everywhere they went, they pushed and shoved and bullied.
“We are visitors! We demand to be served properly!” they would shout at the local people.
Some people did their best to keep out of the way, some started to behave the same way, and others just got trampled on.
All too soon, the big loud bulldozer people from Block, and others who behaved just like them, had moved all the way along the plateau.
Some of the folks in those towns tried to stand up to the Block people. They got run over, shouted at and pushed aside.
The big loud square bodied people really were just like bulldozers, shoving and squashing anyone and anything in their way.
The Mayor of the town of Quailville tried to talk to the people from Block when they first arrived.
“You can have some of our town all to yourselves, and we will live peacefully in the other part,” he offered.
The Block people agreed that was a good idea. But it didn’t take long before their part of Quailville got noisy and crowded and unpleasant.
“The other part of Quailville looks much nicer,” they said.
So they pushed their way into the rest of the town. The poor Mayor was just another person to be pushed aside.
`“This is no way to treat visitors! Why didn’t you let us have this bit of the town? It’s much nicer!” shouted one of the bulldozer people.
“It used to be,” said the Mayor in a sad, quiet voice as he looked around at the noisy, shoving crowd. But the people from Block didn’t hear him.
So they kept moving along the plateau, finding nice unspoiled places and spoiling them. Not deliberately, of course, but it never occurred to the Block people that their noise, and their pushing, and their rudeness, was really the cause of the problems they kept trying to leave behind.
Eventually they got to the very last town on the plateau. It was a very old town called Terminus.
The very polite people of Terminus welcomed them.
“You’re welcome to come in, but please be gentle. All of our town is very old and fragile,” they said.
“Yes, yes, sure. Now get out of the way!” replied the people from Block.
With a sigh the polite people of Terminus stood back and let the bulldozer people pass before they could be pushed aside or crushed.
Block people all across the plateau soon heard how easy it was to get into Terminus. They rushed there, pushing themselves along, pushing each other out of the way, and shouting as if being louder would help get them there sooner.
They pushed down the gates and pushed over the old fragile walls to get in.
Again the polite people tried to give a warning. “Please be careful – all of Terminus is old and fragile,” they said.
Most of the bulldozer people didn’t even bother to say, “Yes, sure.”
They either ignored the polite people, or pushed them out of the way, or shouted at them to get something because they were visitors and expected to be treated well.
Without the people from Block even noticing, the polite people quietly got right out of their way – right out of Terminus, in fact.
The people who used to be the Terminites stood some way away from where their gates had been, shaking their heads sadly. Inside the town, the Block people were rumbling around, pushing and shoving each other and shouting for somebody to come and serve them.
Then suddenly above the terrible noise of the pushing and shoving and shouting came an even louder, more terrible noise.
The people of Terminus had warned that all of their town was old and fragile. That included even the ground on which it had been built.
The end of the plateau collapsed under the strain. Terminus and the big square bulldozer people of Block fell hundreds of feet to their ruin.
The polite people made their way back along the plateau to all the places where those from Block had been. Places like Quailtown and Sekund – even the remains of Block itself.
Gradually the damage in all those towns was repaired. The people who were left treated each other with respect – they’d all learned a lesson from Block.
The plateau was shared by everyone, and became just the best and friendliest place in the world to live.
But they kept that quiet. They knew that there were other bulldozer people in the world.