Lord of the ants

In Grade 7, our all-boys school took us on a field trip to a sports complex that was located just outside Riyadh.

After playing a bit of football, a small group of us decided to detach from the class and walk back to the central office of the complex instead of waiting for the bus to come back and pick us up. This journey required us to cross a vast plot of desert at midday.

Photo by Ethan Jones from Pexels

As the six of us walked across the desert, with no water, no compass, and no common sense, one of the boys stepped on a nail sticking out of a piece of wood. The nail pierced his shoes and punctured his heel. He fell to the floor in pain.

At that moment I decided to take charge of the group. I was never the leading type in school, but I had seen a similar situation take place in an episode of one of my favorite cartoons: زينة ونحول (Maya The Bee). I knew exactly what to do!

In that episode, a group of ants were being attacked by a spider, and the arachnid had closed in on one of the weaker ants.

With confidence, I repeated to my friends exactly what the leader of the army of ants said: “Let’s leave him behind. Better to sacrifice one of us than to endanger the entire group.”

It was at that moment, as the words came out of my mouth and I saw the horror on the faces of my friends, especially the one I suggested we sacrifice, that I realized what makes a shit leader.

We made it through the desert, helping our friend hobble on his sore foot. The next day, the six students with the sunburned faces knew that we were forever united by our mutual adventure, and by our silent understanding that not all life skills can be learned from TV.

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