THERE WAS ONCE A SIGN in a crossroad that had gotten tired of giving directions to passers-by, only to see them goof up and end up taking the opposite route of that which she had advised them to follow.
One day, she decided to make fun of them instead. From that point on, she confused everybody by pointing out all the directions wrong: Left became Right and East became West, and should a traveler happen to ask for specific advice, she directed him to the opposite path.
First, appeared a woman that was carrying a water pitcher made of clay and headed to the nearest spring. The sign showed her the wrong path, only to see her return full of sweat many hours later, with a trouble looked on her face and an empty pitcher.
Second to show up was a young lad carrying an empty flask which he intended to fill from the same spring. The sign fooled him too, pointing towards the opposite direction, and the lad soon got lost in the forest. When at some point he realized he was lost, he looked for another path to follow. Many hours later, and after having missed the correct path for the spring, he returned to the starting point where the sign laughed to see him sweat all over and thirsty like never before.
Third, appeared an old man with a crook, looking for the same spring. As soon as she saw him, the sign instantly burst into laughter, as he was of such an old age that his memory would surely fail him. Thinking that he would anyway forget the instructions half-way through and get lost in the forest, the sign decided to take pity on him, and give him the correct directions. As expected, the old man followed the path, only to forget the sign’s directions and take a wrong turn a few meters underway. Seeing him from distance, the sign laughed.
Much to her surprise, the old man appeared again only a few minutes later, holding a flask filled with crystal clear, crisp water. He told her: “Out of my old age and poor memory, I forgot the directions you gave me half way through. Yet, underway I came across a sycamore tree I had planted when I was young and sat on its shadow to get some rest. There I remembered the exact steps I took when I was young, and I had to reach the nearest spring to drink water and get some rest”. With those words, he bid her farewell.
As soon as she heard it, she became red with shame. From that day on, she took her lesson, always to be mindful of making a fool of others.