Once upon a time there lived a man with a very nice house. We'll call him Bill. Bill was working in his basement one day when he happened to notice some termites scurrying across the floor. Now Bill knew that termites ate wood and that his house was made of mostly wood, but the termites at the time were not doing any harm so he left them alone. A few days later Bill was working out in the yard and he noticed his neighbor's back porch had a lot of damage caused by termites. "I'm glad that's not my house," he thought, and went back inside.
Some time later Bill came out his front door and proceeded down the front porch steps. The middle step split when he stepped on it and Bill fell to the ground. It had obviously been destroyed by termites. "Damn these termites!" he said. He looked around for the termites that caused the damage. He could only catch five or six. He put them in a jar and kept feeding them wood so they wouldn't die. Then he fixed his step and went about his business.
A few weeks later Bill was in the basement again and he noticed more termites eating away at the support beams to the house. He ran to get a fly swatter. When he got back he let out a scream as the fly swatter came crashing down, but the termites managed to slip away unharmed.
Then one day Bill got notice he was being transferred to a new job. He put his house on the market for sale. Two guys bid on the house at the same time, Al and George. There was a legal dispute, but George eventually got the house. At closing while Bill was handing George the keys he warned him about the termites. George said he would keep an eye on it.
Shortly after moving in, George looked out his back window while eating his breakfast one morning and noticed the storage shed where he kept his lawn equipment had completely collapsed. He ran out the back door to investigate. When he got there he noticed termite damage everywhere. He saw his neighbor, who happened to be a firefighter, trimming his hedges with a pair of electric clippers. George yelled over to him, "Can you believe these termites?"
"WHAT?" yelled his neighbor. He couldn't hear George over the hedge trimmers.
"These termites destroyed my shed!" George yelled back.
The neighbor turned off his clippers and said, "I can't hear you."
George puffed out his chest and said, "Well I hear you. The neighborhood hears you. And the bugs that knocked this building down are going to hear from all of us."
George stormed back in the house and went right into action. He called the local exterminator who said he could come out that morning. The exterminator looked around and concurred that George had a termite problem that appeared to have been festering for years. He told George he could spray the house for termites, but advised George he should check with the homeowners association first since they tended to get skittish about seeing exterminators in the neighborhood spraying their toxic chemicals.
So the following week George informed his neighbors about his termite problem and told them he was going to the next meeting of the homeowners association which met every month. Word got out quickly and everyone planned to be there. George was surprised to find many of his neighbors had termites but hadn't acted on it.
At the meeting, all of George's neighbors were there. George stood up and said he had a termite problem and he intended to spray his house to eradicate them. He told his neighborhood everyone was going to have to spray their houses in order to assure the termites were exterminated. Everyone agreed it was worthwhile to eradicate the termites from their homes. So they called the Northern Alliance Extermination Company who came in and sprayed all the houses. Many neighbors thought this solved the problem. But after the exterminator sprayed his house, he pointed out to George that the large oak tree in his front yard was also infested with termites and that if he did not get rid of the tree the termites would just find their way back into his house again.
George walked up and down his street and noticed several trees also had termites. This problem was bigger than they thought. So George rounded up his neighbors and assembled them at another meeting.
George explained what the exterminator had told him and informed the neighborhood they would have to cut down all of their trees in order to completely rid themselves of the termites. George's next-door neighbor, Tony, with whom George had tightly bonded, immediately stood up and said, "I'm with you, George. You can count on me." His other neighbor, John, also stood up and exclaimed, "I'm with you too, mate." Then Jose raised his hand and said, "Me too, senior." In all 32 neighbors stood up in support.
But some neighbors weren't so sure. Vladimir, whose own house had considerable termite damage, ruled with an iron fist. "I will not support searching other yards for termites, but if I find them on my property I will destroy them."
Paul, who spoke with a Canadian accent, thought we should try to understand the termites first. "We were the ones who came in here and leveled the forest they used to call home. We brought this upon ourselves. They are only trying to survive, " he said. "Perhaps if we give them another food source they will leave our houses alone, eh."
Gerhard stood up and said, "I'm afraid cutting down all our trees may be bad for the environment. We should not take the chance."
Ted put in his two cents. "What if this becomes a quagmire? What is our exit strategy?"
Jacque stood up and said, "What proof do you have these termites are connected with the termites that destroyed your shed? Did you see any of these termites physically eating your shed? Maybe we should hire termite inspectors to periodically search our houses for termites damage from now on. Any damaged wood could be removed and repaired. We should give inspections a chance."
Dick said, "The way you want to treat these termites is reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps, Soviet Gulags and Pol Pot."
George had heard enough. He jumped to his feet and slammed his fist on the table. "I'm going to kick those termites off of my property dead or alive. Now either you are with us or you are with the termites."
George's other neighbor, John, who incidently had three Purple Hearts from Vietnam, said, "I cannot support this unilateral action. You cannot go it alone. You need the help of your neighbors. No action should be taken without the unanimous consent of the homeowners association." John secretly coveted George's house and wouldn't have been too angry if he moved out.
George said, "I asked for your help and you have refused. Now we will do it without you in order to save our own houses." And with that the coalition of the willing got up and left the meeting.
The coalition went right to work cutting down trees and evicting the termites from their property. Things seemed to be going well, until one day Jose noticed some termites had eaten away at a windowsill. The rain had leaked in and caused a lot of damage. Jose had had enough. He moved out of the neighborhood. Coincidently, another Jose moved in, but he insisted all hostilities toward the termites would stop.
Then one day Tony's garage roof collapsed. He hadn't noticed the termites had taken over his garage. So Tony vowed to get the termites who were responsible. While fixing his garage he noticed a bug that looked like a termite. He stepped on it, but then realized it was just an ant. He told a neighbor and soon everyone knew. He was heavily criticized for killing an innocent ant. Tony regretted killing the ant, but he felt at the time he was doing the right thing.
I wish I could wrap this up with a nice ending and say they all lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, George, Tony, and John still fight against the termites to this day. We will just have to wait and see who prevails.