Sunday, April 8, 2012

90. Testing

Last evening was a busy one. C.W. recovered from his somber mood of last week but was again agitated by national news. It started with a knock on the door shortly after sunset.

I opened to a snappily dressed man in a silk suit and club tie. Impeccably finished, he looked like an ad for Vogue. The smell of money filled the room as he indicated a sense of urgency. As I seldom wonder about visitors anymore, I ushered him in.

He didn’t bother to shake hands. He simply turned once he entered the room and said, “I’m Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon/Mobil and I have a problem.”

I waited.

Seeing no response, he continued. “There is a growing cancer in our country.”

I cocked my head expectantly.

“There is a movement among certain states to require drug testing as a requirement for receiving welfare payments.”

I nodded.

“Can’t you see?”

“See what?”

“How this would affect me.”

“Surely you are not on welfare,” I said.

“Are you kidding?” he said. “Do you have any idea how much we receive in tax subsidies?”

“A lot?”

“You couldn’t begin to imagine.”


“If they drug test the corporation, we might lose that assistance,” he swallowed hard. “If our profits drop below 40 billion a year, I’m toast.”

I thought for a moment. “I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” I said.


“As I understand it, tax breaks, although a direct giveaway from the government to corporations, are not considered welfare.”


“Your corporation is not a single woman with a dependant child, is it?”


“Then you are fine.”

“Oh man, he said, “That is such a relief,” he started to leave but then turned. “Could I use your telephone?”

“C.W.,” I said. “What’s up?”

He avoided eye contact. “Nothing. Can I use the phone?”

I gave in. “Use the one in the bedroom. But tell me what’s going on.”

”Nothing,” he said, heading for the bedroom. Then, as he closed the door, “I just need to call the Koch boys. They’ll be so relieved.”

Immediately there was another knock on the door. I groaned and opened it. Another nattily dressed man faced me.

“I need help,” he said. “Got your name from Big Dope dot com.”

“Let me guess. A corporation?”

“Dave Lesar,” he said. “CEO of Halliburton. We’ve been enjoying cost overruns on our federal contracts for years.”

I comforted him and ushered him in out, only to hear another knock. This time it was a young man dressed in starched and pressed work khakis and a stockman’s hat.

“I’m Johnny Benson,” he announced. “I just took over Benson Farms and I’m worried about our farm subsidies.”

This time it took longer as he was neither well educated, nor very bright. Finally, I was able to relax and work on my daily quota of Proust.
The CEOs provided me with this
archetypal image of a welfare queen.
Not to be confused with an
honest corporation (inset) - C.W.

Then I heard the knocking again. Disgusted, I hurried to the door and opened it only to be dazzled by a bright and overpowering smile attached to a huge mop of hair. This time the smell of money mingled with a hint of sulphur.

“Hello,” it said. “I’m Joel Olsteen.”

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