A corporate executive faces a predicament when angry protesters gather around his building.
It was a drearily gray day on Wall Street, and angry protesters were descending upon the Nasdaq building. They waved around picket signs, shouting things like “We won’t pay for your crisis!” and “Stop the corporate greed!”
This organized protesting went on for awhile. After half an hour, one protester asked “Have the business folks gone yet?”
“No,” replied another. “They’re just hiding under their desks.”
Meanwhile, inside the building, several business people were waiting (in the aforementioned place) for the protesters to go away.
“Have the protesters gone yet?” whispered a businessman who was anxiously twiddling his fingers.
The one next to him shook his head sadly.
Suddenly, the faint smell of expensive cologne entered the room. The business people under the desks stiffened. This was because following the scent was its source: the presiding executive.
The presiding executive (hereby known as the exec) was a well-respected man in the business world, a tall British import with a chipper BBC accent. He had made his first million in London, and used that money to immigrate to the United States. After all, as a colleague told him, that was where the real money was. As the exec soon found out, the colleague was right.
Lately, however, the exec was becoming quite irritated of American business, with all its bailouts and Ponzi schemes. The recession had caused his company to make many cuts, and his superiors were talking about making more. While the cutting of jobs did not particularly worry the exec, the cutting of executive luxuries did. Hence, he was doing all he could to prevent the axe from coming down on his unlimited continental flights, and this included pushing his employees to be more productive.
“Why do I not hear the clacking of fingers typing?” asked the exec, glaring at the employees.
One man pointed out the window. The exec followed the finger, and a look of horror appeared on his face. “Egad!” he exclaimed. “Who are they, and what are they doing here?”
“‘Taxpayers Rebelling Under Tyranny and Halfwittedness’,” replied the man who had pointed outside. “Also known as ‘T.R.U.T.H.’.”
Still looking outside, the exec nodded. This acronym would explain the picket signs reading “You Can’t Handle the T.R.U.T.H.!”
There were a few moments of awkward silence.
“Well,” the exec said finally, “get back to work, all of you.”
“B-but… they might do something to us,” whined the businessman who had been twiddling his fingers.
“Nonsense,” scoffed the exec. “They’ll be gone soon enough. Anyway, they can’t do any real harm. Those silly protesters have neither the right or the means… or, furthermore, the brains.” He exited the room, chuckling. Cautiously, his employees returned to work.
The next day, the protesters were back, inexplicably seeming to be more furious than the day before. Their shouts were louder, and they waved their signs around with more vehemence. The exec noted this as he entered the building that morning, attempting to stay inconspicuous. Although this was certainly alarming, he decided to spend his time at work worrying about more pressing matters.
“Which color is more businesslike: mahogany or navy blue?” he asked his secretary, holding up two suits side by side.
His secretary was reading a lifestyle magazine. “Either one is good, sir,” she answered without looking up.
Looking annoyed, the exec said “Really, one of them has to be more businesslike.”
The secretary looked up, exasperated. She sighed. “Mahogany.”
“Well… now that I think about it, I prefer navy blue,” the exec said, walking out of the room. The secretary rolled her eyes and returned to perusing the magazine.
The exec returned to his office, and took a seat in his comfortable leather chair. The walls prominently displayed a Master’s Degree in Economics, as well as several pictures of the exec posing with various influential businesspeople (although a few of them had since been arrested). He had begun to look over some business papers on his desk when the phone rang.
“Corporate is calling, sir,” his secretary told him when he picked up the phone
“Put them through,” he said. There was a click.
One of the company directors was on the other end. “I saw your building on television yesterday,” he remarked.
“Really,” said the exec, pleased. He swiveled around in his chair.
“Yes,” replied the director. “It was because of the protesters outside of it.” He did not sound very happy about this.
The exec laughed awkwardly. “About them—”
The company director cut him off. “That sort of thing casts a negative light on our company,” he said. “Get rid of them.”
“Well… that may take awhile…”
“Why would it?” demanded the director.
“You can’t just get rid of all those people with a snap of the fingers,” explained the exec, snapping his fingers as a demonstration. He could still hear the angry shouts of the protesters outside, so that hadn’t worked.
“I’ll give you a week, then,” the director retorted. “And if they’re not gone by then…” there was a pause, “…then I’ll take away your private jet.”
The exec gasped. He felt dizzy, and clutched the desk to stabilize himself. A few moments of deep breathing helped relieve the nausea (he had picked up this technique in yoga class). “Alright, sir,” he said finally. The director hung up.
Getting rid of the T.R.U.T.H. was quite a task for the exec, as it would be for anyone. There was no easy way to go about it. The exec stood up and paced around the room, wracking his brain for a solution. Eventually, he decided that the best thing to do at that present moment was just to wait and hope that the protesters would tire of their demonstrating.
After six days, it was clear that this strategy would not work.
The protesters were still showing up every morning to shout and wave signs; some of them even stayed the night on the street in front of the building. Even the intervention of the police (the exec had called them up on the third day) had no effect on their resolve. The outlook was bleak.
However, the exec was not a man who gave up easily. If that was the case, he would never have been able to climb so far up the corporate ladder. So, he decided there was only one way to go about it now: direct confrontation.
Taking a deep breath, the exec strolled to the front of the building. His employees gave him strange looks. He did not acknowledge them, as usual. When he got to the front door, he prayed a bit, then opened it.
“GO AWAY, YOU BLOODY COMMIES!” he screamed at the crowd, hoping this alone would make them go away. It was a false hope.
“CAPITALIST PIG!” shot back the crowd, not missing a beat.
The exec and the protesters went back and forth like this for approximately twenty-one minutes, when the exec decided to resort to extreme measures.
“Please,” he pleaded, getting down on his knees. “If you don’t go away, my superiors will come down on me like a ton of bricks!” He sobbed, hoping this would win the sympathy of the crowd. “I’ll do anything… anything, to make you go away.”
There was silence among the crowd. Then, there was a ripple of discussion and debate. This seemed like a positive development.
Finally, a man whose manner suggested that he was the leader of the crowd stepped forward. “What we want,” he said, in a loud, booming voice, “is our money back.”
The exec stopped sobbing. “But you never payed any money in the first place!” he exclaimed.
“Oh, yes we have,” retorted the leader of the T.R.U.T.H. “We’ve payed you big business millions… no, billions of dollars in bailouts. And we want that money back.”
Although this was quite a request, the exec was desperate. He agreed. “Fine. If that’s what it takes, then I’ll do it.” He got up, ran to the company safe, put in the electronic password (it was “password”, for those who are curious), and opened it up. There were piles upon piles of money inside, a sight that almost made the exec weep with joy. But this was not the time nor place for such a thing.
Taking as much as he could carry, the exec ran to the far window on top floor of the building and opened it up. The businesspeople there glanced at him, most likely thinking that he had finally cracked and was going to jump out the window with the money. Alas, this was not the case.
Following a quiet goodbye to the money, the exec dropped it down towards the hoards of protesters. The business people gasped with astonishment. The T.R.U.T.H. cheered.
The crowds were satiated after the exec had repeated this process several times. They dispersed.
When the last protester had gone, the exec rushed to his office and called up the director. “They’re gone!” he exclaimed. “I’ve gotten rid of those silly protesters!”
“Good,” said the director. He hung up. The exec was left with a stupid grin on his face.
Then he began to sob.