All aboard the bandwagon

At the edge of town, some Pioneers are pushing a wagon…

The edge of town

As they reach the city limits, they hop aboard and move to the front, eyes bright, musical instruments in hand. They start to play and sing.

It’s not a new tune, but it is a nice variation on an older classic which noone can quite place, with some riffs from somewhere else a little more exotic. As if propelled by their music, the wagon continues rolling gently forward.

Across the tracks

Mike’s ears prick up. He turns, sees two or three people reach out tentatively towards the bandwagon, and are pulled on board. The extra weight somehow adds to the wagon’s speed as the band plugs in an amplifier.

Mike leaves Larry behind as he runs to meet it.

Mike (over shoulder)

Hey, the next Thing is coming!

He clambers up, looking for footholds. As do others. Those on board lend a hand. The bandwagon’s suspension creaks as it accelerates. The music is getting louder now, and slightly ragged.

Larry

What? What is this next Thing?

Mike’s strapping on an electric guitar, eyes bright.

Mike

IT’S GREAT! It’s just like the last Thing, but with new words and bits of other Things! Hurry! The wagon’s filling up!

Main street

It is, and picking up speed. People are scrambling aboard now, and those onboard aren’t helping so much. It’s getting crowded, and the newer arrivals have to sing the merits of the new thing louder, just to get heard.

The Pioneers are still visible up front, brandishing book deals and speaking engagements as bickering breaks out behind about the lyrics. Two or three of them look at the undercarriage, foreheads creased. One or two scan the horizon.

Larry

But that sounds like what we were doing anyway! How is it…

Mike has to bellow but even then he’s hard to hear over the creaking, groaning suspension. The music is becoming discordant, the tempo …

Mike (bellowing)

NO! It’s BETTER! It’s …

… yet still they come, clambering on board the Biggest Noise in Town, fighting their way in against fists and elbows...

Larry

What? What did you …?

… the music lost under a developing stadium chant, almost drowning out the groaning and cracking from the bandwagon’s undercarriage, and…

Mike

… significantly different! It’s true that …

… the roar of its wheels on the pavement as it gathers pace.

Larry

What? What’s true, Mike?

Central Square

But the bandwagon’s going too fast. Top-heavy, it lurches left and right through Central Square as people claw their way on board, singing and shouting and screaming the benefits of the new Thing. They’re piling impossibly high now, screaming impossible claims just to be heard over each other and the snapping, grinding noises from below.

Incredibly, impossibly, more people in Central Square pile on as the bandwagon continues its terrible path towards the harbour. It’s open warfare. Larry watches a mainstream journalist eye-gouge the freshfaced MBA in front of Mike as an Accenture latecomer crotch-punches an ex-colleague who made Partner at Deloitte. The Deloitte guy disappears into the bandwagon’s bowels as Mike headbutts a CapGemini CIO and swings his guitar at a midlevel procurement officer with delusions of grandeur and a double mortgage. He connects and he keeps swinging, holding his own and aiming for a plenary slot at a London conference when a 30-something McKinsey aiming for Partnership by 40 neck-tackles him from behind.

There are just too many of them, thinks Larry miserably as Mike disappears in a sea of writhing wannabe thought leaders.

Harbour street

The Pioneers have discreetly jumped off by the time the bandwagon exits Central Square and enters its death throes. With a crashing roar of splintering wood the front wheels give way, pitching the screaming, punching pile of consultants onto the street before it.

For a second the bandwagon balances there, teetering on its front end, before toppling forward onto the people scattered beneath it, smashing them into the ground in a cloud of shattered timber and hyperbolic content marketing.

Silence.

Slowly, the people pick themselves up and dust themselves off. Few appear physically hurt, although many can’t find their wallets.

Larry catches up with Mike.

Larry

Mike! Are you OK?! That was … Mike?

But Mike’s examining a broken spring from the bandwagon’s undercarriage, wonderingly turning it in his hands. He reaches out for a piece of splintered wood. And another.

Larry

Mike?

But Mike is picking up more wood. More springs. Some string and nails as be moves down the street. As Larry follows him with his eyes, he notices others doing the same.

As they pick up the pieces of their shattered bandwagon, trying to fit things together, trying to figure things out, they slowly move outwards.

Towards the edge of town.

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