Tenth of December by George Saunders: Exhortation

Tenth of December

Now I’m not sure what this was all about. In a memo, Todd, a low-level manager explains the importance of positive outlook to his underlings. He tells them about the dead whale which he and a few of his friends had to lift onto a flatbed. They had first tried to lift the dead carcass with a neutral attitude. When they failed, a former Marine had suggested they should be “psyched up” and try to lift with a positive attitude, which had worked.

So far so good. But here onward, the story turns a bit weird. Todd says to his employees, “the people above us, who give us our assignments, seem to think that the work we do in Room 6, in addition to being hard, is also important,” although he never explicitly says what they do. Todd had been reminded by the upper management that their numbers should not go down further, and there is a hint that nothing good will come out of it if they don’t pick up their pace and get the work done.

Strange story. I think I will have to read it again.

Because this story had whales in it, I will share something with you before I sign off. Last week, the Sri Lankan Navy and local residents were able to rescue a pod of about 20 pilot whales washed up on the Sampoor coast of the island. This is a rare phenomenon in Sri Lanka, and although it had a happy ending, the frequency of things like this will only continue to increase if we turn a blind eye and act ignorantly.


(Image credit: telegraph.co.uk)



  1. Such a thoughtful review. I have been off line for a bit and it was good to see your face again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to see you too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so glad people were able to release the whales. It is heartbreaking when they breach and die a slow death at the beach.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it was very sad to see them die in New Zealand. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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