A long time ago in a faraway village lived a man who everyone did their very best to avoid. He was the type of person who believed that there was only one competent person in the world, and that one person was himself. Consequently, he was never satisfied with anything. His shoes never fit right. His shirt never felt comfortable. When his food wasn’t too cold, it was too salty, and when it wasn’t too hot, it was too bland.
If a field wasn’t sowed by himself, it was not sowed well. If he didn’t close the door, the door was not closed properly.
In short, he made a career of frowning, lecturing, criticizing, and mumbling about the incompetencies of every other person in the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, the man was married, which made matters all the worse. No matter what his wife did, in his eyes it was wrong. No matter what the unfortunate woman cooked, sewed, or cleaned—or even when she milked the cow—it was never satisfactory, and he let her know it.
She tried very hard to be a good wife, but it seemed the harder she tried, the less she pleased him. Finally, one evening she could take no more.
“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” she told him. “Tomorrow I will do your chores and you will do mine.”
“But you can’t do my chores,” the man replied. “You don’t know the first thing about sowing, hoeing, and irrigating.”
But the woman was adamant. And on top of that, she was filled with a righteous anger that frankly astonished and frightened the man to the point where he didn’t dare disagree.
So the next morning the wife went off to the fields and the man began the domestic chores. After thinking about it, he had actually convinced himself he was looking forward to it. Once and for all, he would demonstrate to his wife how things should be done.
Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan. In fact, nearly everything the man touched turned into disaster. He spilled the milk, let the pig get into the house, lost the cow, burned the dinner, and ultimately set the house on fire, narrowly escaping with his own life.
When his wife returned, she discovered her husband sitting on a pile of ashes, smoke still rising from his clothes. But the woman wasn’t the type to rub things in. She helped him up, wiped the soot from his beard, fixed him a little something to eat, and then prepared a bed of straw for them to sleep on.
From that day forward, the man never complained about anyone or anything else for as long as he lived.