Destinies May Vary

Well, I did it, folks. I did it. It took me twenty-one years and more sweat than I knew I had inside me, but here I am today, and I gotta just bask in this moment, friends. In 1986 I walked into a Prudential Financial Services office and took out a sixty million dollar loan secured by my family’s vast airline wealth, and I started an e-mail marketing company with two hundred and fourteen employees housed on four stories of one of the most fashionable skyscrapers in San Diego. And through nothing but guts, determination, and taking the risks that no one else dared to, I slowly pared that company down and made it virtually unrecognizable, starting in 1988 with the modest removal of the cafeteria and the unannounced layoffs of just three people in the Fulfillment department. Year after year I followed my dream relentlessly, working twelve hour days (including weekends) to reduce both the staff and the production numbers in every conceivable way. I still remember the day the New York Stock Exchange, stunned by our inert decision-making and uninspired profit projections, took us off their ticker---didn’t we party that night! In the late nineties we jettisoned the Board of Directors and got everyone working on the same floor for once, and by 2002 the health plan was gone and salaries were borderline embarrassing. Then came that magical March of 2005 when we barely made payroll at all! The department meetings got smaller and smaller, until last year it was just me and six other guys from college working here. Bob left, Ray died, Allen disappeared in Guam, and on this day in August of 2007, my dream has finally come true---my entire company, once a corporate monolith that commanded respect from the entire industry, consists of me tinkering in my garage with a single laptop computer. There’s forty-one dollars in my bank account and I haven’t eaten anything but soy butter for two days, but it’s all been worth it. No one has shrunk a major company like me with the style that I displayed, no one. They’re teaching a class at Princeton about what I’ve done! Some might ask what I’ve proved by gradually and deliberately wiping out two hundred and eighty-five million dollars worth of assets so I could wind up sitting on a cold cement floor in my gym shorts, sifting through a “database” that consists of nothing more than an Excel spreadsheet with the address and phone number of my only remaining client, Maury’s Burger Zone, on it. Well, ask me that same question when I go up to Amy Spednik at our twenty-fifth high school reunion and say right to her face, “NOW who’s ‘too conventional to really consider dating’, huh, Ames, baby??”

I bet she’s gotten fat, too. Oh man, this is gonna be sweet.