The popular adage: “There’s no free lunch” has other variants like “No free lunch,” “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” etc. You probably know that it simply communicates the idea that it is impossible to get something for nothing, and that there is always a cost to the person or to society as a whole for things gotten for nothing, although that cost may be a hidden cost or an external effect. The story behind this adage is most amazing!
A wise old king charged his wise men to compile the ‘wisdom of the ages.’ After working so hard, they came up with 12 volumes. The king was impressed, knowing that the volumes contained the wisdom and knowledge he should be leaving as a legacy for mankind. However, he was sure the supposed beneficiaries wouldn’t read them because they were too voluminous, so he requested the wise men to condense their work. They compressed the 12 volumes to 1. Pressed further, they reduced the volume to a chapter, then to a paragraph, then finally to a sentence. When the old wise king saw the sentence, he was so elated! He exclaimed, “Gentlemen, this is truly the wisdom of the ages, as soon as all men everywhere learn this truth, then most of our problems will be solved.” The sentence was so short; it simply said, “There ain’t no free lunch.”
Perhaps the king knew about the ‘free lunch’ trap and how powerful and dangerous ‘free lunch’ could be.
History has it that, some hogs escaped from a remote area in the Smoky Mountains and became very wild after several generations, terrorising anyone who crossed their paths. Even though a number of very skilled hunters tried, none of them could locate and kill those hogs. It took ‘free lunch’ to trap the animals.
An old man who knew the power of ‘free lunch,’ moved in to the village closest to the habitat of these wild hogs; with one purpose: “…to catch them wild hogs;” (In his own words). When the people of the village heard that the old man had come purposely to catch the wild hogs, they scoffed; because they couldn’t possibly believe that this old man could ever accomplish what the skillful local hunters were unable to do. Follow what the old man did…
First, he located the eating-place of the animals and put some grains right in the middle of it. Observing from a distance he noticed that when the hogs came around, they were initially scared off; but curiosity finally got to them and the old boar that led them started sniffing around and eventually took a first bite! That was the ‘green light;’ the other hogs then joined in. The next day, he put some more grain out there and laid a plank some feet away. The plank frightened them for a while, but that ‘free lunch’ was a strong appeal to them so it didn’t take them long and they were back to eat. He continued the trend, adding a couple of boards each day by the grain, eventually dug holes to put in corner post for the trap and all that. The pen was completed with the trap door in place, and as one expected, the habit of getting what they wanted without working for it drove the hogs right into the pen, and the old man sprung the trap; they were captured!
In any case, even if it’s not a trap, hoping on ‘free lunch’ is not safe because one would wake up one day only to realise that, totally unexpectedly, and obviously unprepared for the consequences, the supposed ‘free-lunch’ would be no more!
Truly, there ain’t no free lunch! The law of accumulation says, “All great success and achievement is an accumulation of hundreds, if not thousands of efforts that most people never see or appreciate.”
There are other equally interesting modern stories to the “free lunch.” For instance, it is reported that in the nineteenth-century American bars were offering a “free lunch” in order to entice drinking customers. Saloons were providing “free lunch” to patrons who had purchased at least one drink, but the foods on offer were high in salt so those who ate them ended up buying a lot of beer. 🙂