A long time ago, in a large anthill there lived a small ant named Pedro. Among his fellow ants, he was seen as the smallest, runt of the colony. Pedro was not only smaller than the other ants, but he was also the weakest ant within the hill. Would you believe that Pedro was once sent to pick up a grain of sugar (actually the finest of them) and he couldn’t even lift it up not to talk of carrying it back to the anthill? Simply put, Pedro was an embarrassment to the entire colony.
To compound matters, Pedro’s parents were just as weak. His father was known around the hill as always shying away from the task at hand. He would rather sit in the corner eating up what others had gathered than go out with the group to forage for food. Why on earth the queen hadn’t banished him remains a mystery to us all.
Because Pedro wasn’t reliable in anything, he was rarely invited to go forage with others. He would seize the initiative, come to the pack leader for the day, “please, please, may I join you today in going to gather food.” Typically, the Pack leader would reply, “you can’t even be trusted to carry yourself much less help us in gathering food. It would be better for you to go and join your father there and eat the whole day.” And with that, he would be chased away from among the foraging workers.
However, Pedro would then walk to the builders and ask to be delegated a task in repairing or removing loose sand particles from within the depths of the hill. All the builders would usually gather around and laugh at him as he struggles to carry up the grain of sand. Eventually, this would end with him falling back under the weight and frequently crashing into and breaking one of the pillars. This would make all the ants pick on him even more since they had to rebuild what he has wrecked.
Pedro could not bear it anymore – he wanted to just run away from the colony but was afraid that this would only result in more harm coming to him. One day, he made up his mind and walked up to the commander of the soldier ants – General Juan. The general was a real specimen of the archetypal soldier ant, massive jaws and strong, powerful limbs. Even his abdomen was covered in scars from previous battles, one particular scar running almost from the tip of his sting to the base of his short stout neck.
“General, I would like to enlist in the army. I want to play my part in protecting the colony from all sorts of enemies,” said Pedro.
Much as the general wanted to help this little runt, he could not figure out the logic in allowing such a small fellow into the military. “Pedro, you do realize that soldiers are born and thus not something you become? As a soldier, you are born physically stronger, you have much larger jaws and are able to deliver a good punch.”
Pedro replied, “I know all this General. But give me a chance, I will prove myself to be a capable soldier for the colony.”
Looking at how small Pedro was, and knowing that the little ant was also not strong enough to cope with the rigors of battle. The General kindly but firmly said “Son, this is nothing for you. I don’t expect you to withstand an attack by the invaders. I would personally suggest you search for something else.”
Being the first person to at least address Pedro with some measure of decency, Pedro asked “General, can you maybe when you are not busy, consider taking the time, I mean if it is not too much of a bother. Would you be willing to….” He just couldn’t go on.
“Speak out child, what do you want me to do for you? I don’t have all day, you know.” growled the general.
Now nervous as you can only imagine, Pedro looks down while drawing with his feet and finally mumbles “would you help me figure this out? I have tried everything and yet can’t seem to do anything well. I also want to do something else, but for the life of me have no clue what that could be.”
This took General Juan by surprise, that was probably the one thing he didn’t expect to hear. On the other hand, he was impressed by the drive of this little ant. “Ok, I will help you do this. Meet me at the entrance tomorrow evening.”
Overjoyed, Pedro got up early in the evening and went to wait for the general outside the anthill. Surprisingly, he saw that General Juan was already there checking the guard posts and ensuring that every soldier under his command was in the right place. Seeing, Pedro he walked over and took him to one corner of the hill for their talk.
“So, you wish to figure out what you can do?” asked the general. “Let us go for a walk”
With that, they walked off and the general led young Pedro off the beaten path. The little ant would normally be scared but then he was walking with this great and feared general so this helped calm him down. However, as they walked, all of a sudden he sensed danger and called out for the general to stop.
“What is it?” growled the general.
“I can’t tell” whispered Pedro, “but I sense that something is wrong. I feel something bad is about to happen and coming our way.”
“And what makes you think that you have a better sense of danger than me. I will have you know that even before you were born, I was already leading the soldiers.” roared the General.
Pedro still whispered, “I don’t mean to offend you General, but I tell you that there is danger coming towards us. If you would only look, please General it won’t cost anything to check.”
At that, the General gently walked underneath a blade of grass and peered through the undergrowth. There he spotted a scaly anteater making its way slowly but surely towards the anthill.
Immediately, they scuttled back towards the anthill and the general directed that all the workers move the ants into their bunker. He placed Pedro just at the entrance alongside a company of soldiers with the assignment to detect and warn them when the anteater is close enough while the general supervised the movement of the rest of the colony.
By the time the anteater got close enough, Pedro had been called back down to the deepest chamber of the anthill. From there, they used a tunnel to travel towards their secondary location with Pedro at the head of the colony alongside the general.
With pride, Pedro had found his true purpose, he was to be a guide for the army ants. With his place beside the general, not only was he learning military tactics but also didn’t need to be physically strong or as big as other ants.
All Pedro needed was that ability to smell or sense what was going on around him, communicate this to the others and help them avert danger.
And who said having a well functioning nose wasn’t beneficial.