Three hours into a five hour drive, an ominous grey building broke the steady stream of trees. The dull metal structure stood out against the vibrant green forest. The red of the company name served as the only ornamentation: Joy Global.
My road addled mind fixated on that image, and spun. Ominous joy in the middle of the woods. What could that company possibly do?
A preposterous suggestion popped into my head. I shared it with my husband. We laughed, and concocted the following story:
Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away, in northern Minnesota to be precise, there was a happiness so pure that it could only be described as joy.
Joy sprang from the earth, available to the birds of the air, the plants of the fields, and the animals of the forests.
All the local folk knew of this joy. They took enough for themselves and shared freely with their neighbors. Life was good in the North Woods.
One day, a company man came to town. He had heard of this joy. He thought to bottle it up and sell it around the world, making quite the profit for himself. He rubbed his hands and chortled at the thought of the easy money.
But it wasn’t as easy as he thought.
True, the trusting townsfolk showed him how to collect the joy, and even worked to bottle the first shipment. However, when that first shipment sold in Chicago, each bottle returned with complaints.
There had been no joy, or bliss, not even happiness. “Dim cheer” had been the best a customer said of the North Wood’s Joy.
What had the company man done wrong?
He worked and worked, sending test batches to Chicago. No matter what he or the townsfolk did, comments such as “Blah”, or “Dreary” were all he received.
So the company man took drastic measures. Instead of using the ordinary townsfolk as his workers, he employed beings known to have their own intrinsic joy. He shipped in unicorns, leprechauns, and care bears by the bus load. If these magical creatures couldn’t do it, no one could.
The desperate company man pushed the fairy folk. Joy came from the earth, so into the earth they dug. Dark mines or dusty pits marked their waking hours. After their long hours of toil, they stumbled home with barely enough time to sleep before their next shift.
The company man sold his Joy to glowing reviews. “Sheer Bliss!” “Ecstasy!” Soon, the company man expanded beyond Chicago, until he distributed around the whole world.
He named his worldwide corporation Joy Global. He rubbed his hands and chortled each time he saw his bank statement.
But his was the only laughter heard in the North Woods.
The workers had no energy for laughter. All their energies went into raping the joy from the earth.
The townsfolk had no source for laughter. Joy had become scarce, and hard to obtain.
Even the birds, plants, and animals had no cause for laughter. Their homes had been destroyed by the joy mines.
Without laughter, life was meaningless in the North Woods.
So the North Woods rebelled. The unicorns, leprechauns, care bears, townsfolk, and even the birds, plants, and animals all united to fight back. They would no longer allow Joy Global to ruin their lives.
The workers refused to work the mines, and sabotaged the equipment instead. The townsfolk cut off supply lines to and from the corporation. The wildlife used their own particular gifts to help out as they could.
It was a long battle. In the end, the North Woods defeated Joy Global.
The company could no longer mine joy for worldwide distribution. Rather, Joy Global took what it learned harvesting joy and applied it to other mining operations.
But what happened to the freedom fighters?
The townsfolk, birds, plants, and animals never recovered from the destruction of their homeland. Gaping holes in the earth reminded them of what was, and weighed down their hearts. Those that could, moved away. Few now live in the north.
The unicorns that survived the mines, died in the fight. That is why we have no unicorns today.
The leprechauns survived, but the experience scared their psyche. That is why they are known as sullen, ill-tempered creatures.
The care bears fared the best. They learned from their corporate experience and went on to launch a successful, decades running, franchise. They earned billions with greeting cards, teddy bears, TV shows, movies, and other merchandise.
That is my crazy story of Joy Global. Have you ever had a crazy conversation on a car trip? Share in the comments below.
*Disclaimer: I know nothing about Joy Global. This work is a piece of fiction from a road weary mind. It is not meant as commentary on Joy Global in any way.