The Builder and The Window-Maker: A Modern Fable

Once upon a time there lived a Builder who was renowned for designing beautiful and interesting properties.

One day he was commissioned to construct a block of flats with the one condition that he installed differently designed windows for each apartment and a magnificent front door to attract buyers.

Over the next few months he hired labourers, purchased sand and a brand new cement mixer, and of course he bought lots of beautiful bricks to build with.

With just weeks to go before it was finished, the Builder stood back and marvelled at his creation. He was especially proud of the windows that he had installed on 39 of the 40 apartments. Some of them were triangular, some were cylindrical. Some were bright red, whilst others contained crazy patterns, such as leopard-print and spirals. But the point was they were each different and unique in their own special way, and would certainly bring in a class of customer who would happily buy the apartments at a profitable sum for the Builder.

But the problem was he was still missing five windows for the last apartment and a unique front door. Fortunately, however, he was pointed in the direction of a fabulous Window-Maker who came highly recommended, so he headed over to the Window-Makers shop immediately.
“Good afternoon,” said the Window-Maker when the Builder had entered, “And what can I do for you today?”
“Hello, I’m a Builder and have built a large block of apartments that I intend to sell to make a profit. I have spent money on labourers, sand and a brand new cement mixer, and of course I’ve bought lots of beautiful bricks to build with.”

The Window-Maker listened intently as the man went on.

“But what is a building without windows and doors?” he asked rhetorically. “Surely just a large box made of stone with no access to the soul. Therefore I have installed some of the best and most intriguing windows in the land, and all I am missing are five more windows and a beautiful front door to woo potential buyers. I have seen your magnificent windows and doors and would like to use them in my masterpiece,” he concluded. The Window-Maker smiled, pleased that his work was being appreciated by others.
“Certainly, ” he said, “which ones would you like to buy?”
Suddenly the Builder looked puzzled. “Buy?” he asked, sounding shocked.
“Yes,” said the Window-Maker. “You see, here we go by the Age-Old method of exchanging coin for products and services that have a value or worth.”
“I see,” said the Builder, scratching his head. “The thing is, I haven’t actually budgeted for windows or doors and all the other Window-Makers have given me theirs for free.”

Now it was the turn of the Window-Maker to look puzzled. How could anyone forget to budget for something so important; so necessary? Then he remembered how the Danish broadcaster DR had “forgotten” to budget for the toilets at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest and decided it was ridiculous, but possible after all. Now he just felt confused and slightly offended. The Builder wasn’t the first person to boldly ask for free windows, after all. Did it mean that people no longer valued the visual importance of windows and doors in their building projects? Why were they all happy to pay for labourers, sand, cement mixers and bricks, but not for windows and a beautiful front door to attract potential buyers? Furthermore, why were other Window-Makers willing to give away their windows for free? Did they not realise they were harming the industry, not to mention their own businesses? Did they really think they’d still be trading in a few years time? The Window-Maker realised that the man was waiting for an answer and so continued.
“Let me explain,” he said. “I have spent many years training to be a Window-Maker and it is a skill not everyone possesses. I have also spent lots of money buying the right tools for the job, as well as designing, creating, painting and delivering the windows to my clients. Front doors are even more special, because they are the first thing a person sees when entering a building and therefore their value is that bit higher than the windows.”

But the wise Window-Maker, aware of the Builder’s needs and budget restrictions offered him a solution.
“I am happy to provide the windows at half price, and to negotiate on the price of the door,” he explained, still smiling merrily. He admitted that he very much liked the idea of seeing his windows and door used in such a fantastic project. “Therefore, the price is thus…” and wrote it down on a piece of paper before passing it over to the Builder, who looked it over briefly.
“Unfortunately this price is still too high,” he sighed. “But thank you for your time. Instead I will head to a Window Supermarket where I can get much cheaper, lower quality windows to go in my Masterpiece.”
“Is it the same Window Supermarket that is putting other Window-Makers out of business?” asked the disappointed Window-Maker.
“The very same,” replied the Builder, who then left the shop entirely and never returned.