Inspirational Animal Stories #1: The Motivational Tiger

Wisdom can be found in the most surprising places • Brian McConnachie
Art by Nathan Yoder

Art by Nathan Yoder

Tiger, Tiger burning bright
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight? 
—Edna St. Louis Missouri



had recently been fired from my job (after only two weeks) as a restroom attendant in a medieval adventure village. The reason they gave was that medieval villages didn’t have restrooms much less restroom attendants and they weren’t going to pay me. Before I could protest the logic of this, they had two guys in armor suits and swords escort me from the fairgrounds.  

I felt small. It felt like I barely existed. 

More and more, people were bumping into me and not saying, “Sorry.” My dry cleaners started cutting all the buttons off my clothes and claiming I did it or my clothes didn’t have buttons to begin with. The kids who’d throw water balloons at me and then run away didn’t bother to run away anymore. They sauntered. And now all three of the waiters at the corner coffee shop spill soup on me. The manager agrees to pay for the cleaning but only if I use the same dry cleaners who cuts all my buttons off. And then my bank who said they “lost” my entire savings account—all the money my mother left me—and they weren’t going to say a thing about it. 

I really needed something to cheer me up and that’s when I saw an ad for a car show. The latest in technology and style could be the thing I needed to take my mind off of my troubles. 

As I looked at all the beautiful, futuristic cars, it really did take my mind off my woes. A number of the really expensive cars were on revolving platforms and some had gorgeous models posing with them. One of the cars, a $425,000.00 cream-colored Bentley convertible, had this awesome tiger sitting on the hood. I had never seen any creature so majestic and self-confident. 

I moved closer and as I did, the tiger looked directly into my eyes. As strange as it sounds, I felt there was a sudden bonding between us. Then the platform’s rotation moved the tiger from my sightline but then he came around and our eyes locked again. It was like I could read his thoughts. I could hear his thinking in my head. With each rotation he’d say something different like: I feel lonely. Am I an endangered species? Are you? Then it would go around again, our eyes would meet and he said: How is Siegfried’s pal Roy doing? We all feel terrible about that. The next time around it was: Tell me that tigers aren’t bad animals. 

I was then getting a powerful feeling he was going to tell me something important. Something that could help me with my low self-esteem. I began to feel that the next time around he would say it. Or, I could even ask for his advice. But before I could, he said something I didn’t expect: I’m getting dizzy. This sucks.  

But when I saw him leap from the car, it became clear to me what he was saying. He was saying, Take action.

“Yes! I will!” I yelled at him. What happened next changed me in more ways than one. 

As he landed on me, I went over backwards. There was no doubting what he meant by this:

Life comes at you fast. “Boy! Doesn’t it,” I agreed.  

His momentum rolled us over a few times. My initial understanding of this was: Turn over a new leaf. I felt I should probably be writing this down but that was a little impractical. 

When his teeth went into my thigh, I felt oddly calm and went completely limp and from then on, everything seemed to move in slow motion. Then he shook me like a rag doll and tossed me up into the air. Now the toss in the air I got as: Reach for the heights. Go for the dream. Live your hope. 

The violent shaking I wasn’t too sure about. *Shake things up? Wake up? Rip Life a new one?* That was unclear to me and it hurt a lot. 

Just before I went into a coma, I perceived another message from the tiger that was disturbing. Could this animal, instead of giving me helpful advice, for no good reason, be trying to kill me? Or perhaps he was telling me I should get a gun and kill my dry cleaner? Or the next person who bumps into me without saying, “Sorry”? When I woke up in the hospital all the positive lessons the tiger put into my head had a chance to settle down and form one clear plan. A plan of action and leaping and snatching that I’m going to execute as soon as I can get a pair of bouncy prosthetic legs. 

The folks who ran the auto show said, as much as they would love to, they weren’t allowed to give me any money for pain and suffering because they didn’t have the right insurance. 

But thinking back, I don’t believe you can put a price on a motivational jolt that speaks to the good beast within us and turns our lives around. A chance like that comes once in a lifetime. If you’re lucky. It’s something I call “the tale of the tiger,” and it’s something you’ve just got to Geeerrrraaaab! —Karl Raimes, age 31. ◊

This article first appeared in The American Bystander #1.

Brian McConnachie
has written everywhere and worked with everyone. He is co-founder of The American Bystander.
Brian McConnachie has written everywhere and worked with everyone. He is co-founder of The American Bystander.
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