The Insider

12-19-13 The prompt:
Three words drawn at random
Elegant, multiplies, suspension, trade one to the person on your right – state of mind

It was Friday evening, and I was wrapping it up at the office. It being the holiday season, I had received an elegant tie from the Director as a thank you for not killing the company in the past year. The last guy in my position had received a suspension for four weeks without pay for being there when three of his minions had swindled the competition out of $500 million through insider knowledge. Take that, said the Director. His minions, including me, were here to do the best for the company by doing their best, not their worst. The state of mind he was looking for was ‘ripening’, not ‘rotting.’ I got the hint with the very nice tie.

I was a salesman at heart, and strove to instill in my minions the essence of customer service. Remember that the person in front of you is a customer just as much as the guy on the other end of the phone with a checkbook in his hand. We’re here to serve, and we get paid a lot of money to do it. I headed downstairs to the waiting car and driver, and thanked the guy as he held the door open for me. The drive up to Westport would take an hour and a half at this time of night, and there was booze waiting for me in the car. The service was a perk for all of the upper minions. The Director would work an hour or two more and get a helicopter from the roof to take him to the East Side. Five minutes from home versus ninety minutes. It’s good to be the king.

I sat back and wondered about it all. We were headed up the East Side Drive, past Harlem, and I looked out at the city going by on the other side of the glass. Did those folks get good customer service today, or was it just another day of shafting the little guy? Competition at my level was $500 million in stolen money. Competition in the projects and tenements was a razor and a crack pipe. What was I doing?

Somewhere in my mind it was all going stale. I was tired of making money. I wanted to make something real. REAL real. Not moving numbers from one account to another because the interest rate was better for thirty seven minutes and I could get an extra ten thousand for it. Not being driven home at the end of a long day and wanting to take a shower just to get the thought of what I was doing out of my body.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the tie. It was definitely a power tie. A deep royal purple. It said “I don’t care what you think. Whatever it is, it must be wrong.” I pulled off the club tie I wore just because I was lazy and didn’t want to think about what kind of power a tie had. I slid the purple beauty under my collar. It was thin enough at the small end to tie a Double Windsor. I could look like Prince Charles, poor old bastard.

The driver pulled up to the house by eight, after a long introspective drive, and I got out. Elizabeth met me at the door as the car drove off.

“Don’t take anything off,” she said. “We’re invited next door for dinner in five minutes. Great tie. Did it come with a year-end bonus?”

Nice. She knew it did. Elizabeth knew where every penny was, and anticipated even more pennies coming her way through me. I wondered how she would feel if I announced tonight over dinner that I was leaving to start up a non-profit in Budapest, and we were moving overseas next week?

I had a sudden urge to go upstairs and loop my shiny new tie around the upstairs railing and take a swan dive into the foyer. Swinging there as Elizabeth came to fetch me before we were too fashionably late for dinner. It would probably be the most productive thing I did all year.

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