Bucks County Writers Workshop

Bucks County Writers Workshop


A Review of Who Moved my Cheese!

by Jules C. Winistorfer

The author of Who Moved My Cheese? stinks up the place while conning the public he has something to say.

Until Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D., hit the presses I viewed Disney as the major purveyor of mouse stories. Cheese is a self-help fairy tale about two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, Hem and Haw. The little people are as small as mice but look and act a lot like people today. Each day the four make their way through a maze to a location, which contains, at least within the scope of mouse and little person perceptions, an inexhaustible supply of cheese, on which they feast and otherwise make merry.

Low and behold, one-day they arrive at the perennial cheese depository to find the cupboard bare, so to speak. What to do?

Sniff and Scurry are not too surprised because they've noticed the cheese supply dwindling of late, and they immediately start searching the maze for another source of cheese. The little people, apparently not as smart as the mice, return to the cheese-void location for a few days with disappointing results, gnashing their teeth and hoping a fresh supply of cheese will magically appear.

During their quest for new cheese, Sniff and Scurry encounter a few blind alleys in the maze but eventually find a new cheese supply and live happily ever after, staying alert to change and knowing you can't sit on your duff and wait for good things to happen.

Hem and Haw continue to hem and haw for some time (heh, heh). Finally, Haw, weak and miserable from lack of cheese, ventures into the maze without Hem and after much difficulty is rewarded with new cheese. He has conquered his fear of change, which apparently was the esoteric problem from the onset -- one with which the mice were never afflicted -- learning that sitting on your duff waiting for good things to happen is not a good thing, which of course the mice knew all along.

We aren't told of Hem's fate, but we hope he sees the light, thus averting a tragi demise caused by a scarcity of cheese.

The cheese, of course, is a metaphor for wealth, power, position, and all things material. I haven't quite figured what use the mice have for these things.

The author uses approximately 18,000 words to tell this infantile parable: "Life's going to screw you up -- deal with it." Every management seminar and instructional tape of the 1970s contained similarly tired aphorisms: "All problems must be seen as opportunities, not adversity," "It's not a question of working harder but working smarter," among others.

The story is being told to a group at a high school reunion by one of the classmates. After hearing the story, the classmates compare themselves to the characters in the story. Damn, I'd hate being one of those smart aleck mice.

Many corporations have purchased large quantities of Cheese for reading by employees. Cloud their minds with fairytales and maybe they won't notice their 401ks getting plundered. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

I prefer Frank Sinatra's lyrical message of a symmetric sort: "...and every time I fall flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the ra-ace." Now that's good advice.

Bucks County Writers Workshop