by Patrick Ford
Meet Jobe Lucky. A forty-five year old automotive tycoon. The corporation in which he inherited from his father, who took early retirement eight years earlier has reached new heights. Unlike his father– Jobe was able to drive out almost all of the competition. Also unlike his father, he enjoyed the idea of having a monopoly on the automotive business. Not just car manufacturing, he was able to have a lot of control over the car service and auto-parts market. There weren’t too many places in the U.S. that a consumer can fix or accessorize their vehicle without him getting a taste of it. He owned the Walmart of car production, Lucky’s Motor Co. ( along with the share-holders of course). Of course, like Walmart, there were still a few stubborn service companies (auto-parts and automotives included) that still existed throughout the United States that he couldn’t take over…yet. But all the same; he was a force to be reckoned with.
He has a masters degree in business. He was one of those special guys or even lucky guys who had that special thing beyond what you memorize in school when it came to money. His father was just satified with designing and building expensive-yet-efficient vehicles of all kind. But Jobe wanted every penny he could keep or earn no matter what. He figured out ways to cut corners in spending on labor and materials. He spared no expense when it came to marketing his products . They were on billboards, buses, the radio and the television; they saturated the airwaves, brainwashing the Joneses into buying no matter how many of their vehicles got recalled over the years. He was called: “The Warren That Buffs-It” amongsts the media and his peers–his father wasn’t pleased.
Like Warren Buffet, he loved money, but his passion was the excitement of closing the deal– but that’s where the comparison ends. He was no philanthropist, and his lifestyle was far from modest. He did everything big from his house to his women, he was all about appearance.
He just wanted the two As, accolades and assets– that’s it. He even went as far as to use 9/11 as an excuse to ship work overseas; which put seventy-five thousand people out of work for no reason (with a weak severence package). Jobe and his trusty board members saw the war as a God send, a perfect opportunity for further expansion. He eventually married a woman he didn’t love–but she sure looked good though. Yes…he was all about appearance.
Showing up to social events and business dinners with her on his arm made him the cock-of-the-walk. Infidelity was as common in their relationship as using the bathroom, just as long as they performed under the spot-light; then it was fine for both of them. He wasn’t that keen on having children. He thought he was doing them a favor due to his lifestyle– besides– that would complicate things when it came time for him to trade her in for a newer model (with a nice severence package of course).
This lucky guy slithered down easy street. Nothing bothered him in the least about people and their poverty. He wasn’t moved by what he saw in the news about anything pertaining to unemployment, healthcare, or even the war in Iraq. In fact, he worked diligently to get a contract with the Pentagon to build vehicles or whatever services he could provide–not to help the troupes come home, it was all about the “benjamins”. Smartly, the Pentagon felt that it would be a bad idea to get in bed with a man like him, so they declined. He wasn’t a man of compassion, and why would he be, coming from such wealth and all.
He was born into wealth, and contrary to popular belief, he was born into a good family. His father was a very giving and empathetic person but he didn’t pass that gene on to Jobe. That trait will probably show up in his child (if he has one) because it skipped his generation. Being the man his father is, he blamed himself for not telling the boy “no” or making him work crappy teenage jobs to help him build character and understanding. He just thought that his son would be thankful just because he didn’t have to struggle. He was wrong! Jobe was as thankful as a python would be after digesting a baby antelope, on to the next meal.
He would watch the news reports about the horrors of unemployment going on in his own country with a smirk on his face, his point of view was very shallow: “if they worked harder then they wouldn’t have lost their jobs. They need to get off their asses and get something for themselves instead of waiting on my tax dollars to feed their kids.”
Never mind that he inherited his position. Or that his family’s wealth allowed him to focus on his education with maybe the occasional summer job during his college years interning in his father’s office. Hell, he didn’t even have to clean up his own-damn-room. He knew nothing of what he was mouthing off about–but don’t tell him that! Then he would to go into a “sad” story about how he had to work for six long months on the assembly floor after he graduated, before his father finally moved him into an office with a view and his very own business account.
His father was everything he wasn’t. He has been married to Jobe’s mother for over forty-five years. He gave to charities, supported the local schools by giving out scholarships to needy students, and he was enviromentally conscious–but he just didn’t school his son on something if anything, as simple as…”balance”. When his father gave him the reigns, he got rid of everything that made his father’s company tolerable. That move caused a rift between them, but what made his father completely disown him; was when he found out about the law suit his company was slapped with reguarding illegal and unethical dumping of waste in a small town outside of New Jersey.
His father was astounded!
He spoke with Jobe, telling him that they had plenty of landfills to dump, and why would he do such a thing. Jobe was almost bragging about how they ran out of space to dump due to the greater amount of production that was going on under his regime even with the lay-offs and the moving of a bulk of his production overseas. His father’s heart sank when his son went as far as to justify the dumpings with the worthlessness of the residence,” They’re just a bunch of rednecks and hillbillies anyway.”
The story goes:
Late at night the trucks would go and dump toxic waste in the “underdeveloped” portion of this small town; which meant they were shiting in the woods and covering it up. They thought that their bull dozers had burried the waste deep enough, but they were wrong (or didn’t care). The dirt eroded away exposing mounds of what looked like dry paint. The kids would play in it and the town folk were inhaling it. It wasn’t until some of the residents were getting rashes and boils that the people started getting suspicious. They decided to act when the local doctor recieved cancer as the diagnosis from the blood samples he sent to the lab for over thirty people. They called the local paper who then sent out an investigative journalist who saw the exposed waste for first-hand. After the local paper ran the story, the town folk consulted a lawyer who advised them to get the soil and the stream tested, if it comes back positive then they will persue the lawsuit.
The findings came back positive and the lawyers filed the suit…not bad for some hillbillies and rednecks.
Jobe’s father’s heart couldn’t take it– he had a massive heart attack and died. All of his hardwark was circling the drain and his good name was in jeopardy. Jobe didn’t attend the funneral; that broke his mother’s heart–she died six months later.
There are six-hundred people in the little town outside of Jersey. In order for the law office to efficiently do their job; which would consist of them interviewing every man, woman and child; they had to hire a couple more law firms, which would mean more expenses for the town. In a weak response to the lawsuit, Lucky’s sent out a clean up crew who did a poor job at best removing the waste. When the lawyers called them on it they sent out an enviromental group who was in their pocket to assure the people that their town was safe. The town folk wasn’t buying it; so through the direction of their lawyers, they hired an outside group to provide them with a second opinion. Sure enough, they found dangerous toxins in the ground and in the stream. The town had no choice but to give their lawyers the go ahead, and they took it to trial.
Jobe lived in New York City most of the time. Though it took a while, his parents death was taking a toll on him. Regret and guilt was driving him mad because it was prying his eyes open. During the trial, Jobe called a meeting. He nervously addressed the board about ending the whole thing, admitting some guilt and offfering a a huge settlement. But they took his proposal like that “formula 666″ that southern mothers would try to force down a sick childs throat–they refused it. He saw now the monster he created. Twenty versions of himself called him :weak” in twenty different ways. They told him that he had better stick to the agreement of complete denial or they will push him out!
One evening he was drinking heavily and thinking about his parents–his father in particular. He was watching the “highlights” of the circus that was taking place in his father’s name on the news. He had an epiphany. He decided to drive to that little town and see the damage for himself. If his assessment matches that which is being claimed, he will personally offer them a settlement out of his own account and take the heat for it, “what the hell am I saying to myself”. When he woke up the next morning his mind didn’t change, he still wanted to go see just how much toxic waste was really there. He was about to start up his car when he thought better of it. He thought it would be less conspicuous if he got a cab, so if he is seen snooping around, he could simply tell them that he was a sympathizer and he just wanted to see what was going on. The worse thing that could happen is to end up subjected to the bitter whines of a broken town about the “big bad
He told the cab to wait while he looked around a bit. He gave the driver three-hundred dollars and the cabby gave him a smirk of gratitude. He recognized where he was from the repetitive clips in the news showing this field with the dilapidated store in the background with the Pepsi sign swinging above the steps. across from the store there were rotted out homes with rust-covered vehicles sitting in the weeds of what’s suppose to be a yard; along with hollowed out appliances and soiled garments on clothing lines–he found it strange that there was no one in sight.
He saw a path leading into the woods. He wasn’t fifteen yards from the cab when he spotted a small splatter of what looked of dried paint-like substance in the short dead grass, he shook his head hopelessly. The trees along the path looked lush and vibrant, but as he got closer, he could see something white and foamy glazing the bark like sap. After a short walk, he came to a stream that had that same foamy substance sitting on top of it. The water was so dark that with that foamy stuff on the surface, it looked like Willie Wonka’s latte` version of his chocolate river. The water… or whatever it was had become a slug just oozing south bound. He felt a little queezy.
His peripherals spun his head toward a redish-clay mound that was down closer to the water. He bent down over it, it looked like velvet cake batter, with that swirling effect like it had just come out of an ice-cream despenser. He wanted to touch it for some reason, and if he had thought about it for a second longer, he wouldn’t have stuck his finger in it. It felt like a sharp needle poked him in his index finger, like the cake batter was testing his cholesterol. He immediately pulled it out and rushed his finger into his mouth–a huge mistake. His tongue burn’t like he had bitten into a ghost chilli. He was finding it hard to breathe. He started panicking! And when a person is trying to survive, etiquette goes out the window and certain death should excuse such a powerful man kneeling over a stream of what looked like sewage, in a five-hundred dollar suit, scooping that sludge into his mouth.
That wasn’t no chocolate river! It wasn’t a latte either, it tasted bitter like nothing he could discribe– and it stunk. He swollowed some of it; which is expected when liquid enters the mouth(naturally!), but the rest of it he swished around and spit it out. He repeated this action a few more times until the heat in his mouth started to subside, and he felt his breath coming back . He looked around to make sure no one saw his theatrics. When he was sure he was alone, he made his way back to the cab. The cabby struggled to hold back the laughter when he saw that “Donald Trump” was all wet and dirty. Jobe didn’t have the energy to care, he just waved the man out of that area, on the double peasant. By the time he made it back to his condo he felt sick to his stomach (literally). His wife was home (surprisingly), she did the best she could, she helped him to their room, took off his shoes, took his temperature, and then took his credit card and
After a few days in bed and lots of liquids, he eventually felt better. He felt better about his health and most of all he felt better about his company’s stance on their legal matter. That creek almost killed him! Here he was trying to figure out how to help those people and this is what he gets in return?
“No good deed goes unpunished,” he thought to himself during an afternoon board meeting.
He wasn’t willing to give up his luxurious life for the burden of being moral. He felt that those people make America look bad and that was unexceptable. He would rather see them and everyone like them die or move to Canada or Europe if they want someone to carry them, “free health care and education…fucking Europeans.”
He smiled to himself as he bathed in his anger about putting himself out there like that. He looked on at the board members carrying on business with a confidence that swelled Jobe with a great sense of pride. “And that’s why America is number one,” Jobe thought to himself from the head of the extremely long table. “True, there are safety nets but they come with very fine print. Besides all that…they weren’t contributing to anything but inbreeding and frivilous labor. A man makes something of himself by thinking big and risking bigger, not by sitting around waiting on men like me to throw them a bone. And if working for someone else thier whole life, barely surviving, is what they want; then so be it! Hell, someone has to do it. It’s just part of the game– survival of the fittest,” Jobe continued.
“If they didn’t deserve the life they have then it wouldn’t of happened to them,” he thought to himself as he followed the case from his cushy office.
After five long years in a legal battle, Jobe and his colleges got off with a slap on the wrist. They admitted no guilt, and they settled with those people for eleven million dollars plus the case would be sealed.
They had a party to celebrate!
What they didn’t know… or overlooked was during the five year battle, over thirty of the residents of the small town outside of Jersey lost their bouts with cancer. What they didn’t care about was that the settlement money was to be split six-hundred ways, not including the lawyer fees. The average family recieved eight-thousand dollars, and if a family had a person with cancer or were lost to cancer they received thirty to thirty-five thousand dollars. Not nearly enough compensation for the dead; and not nearly enough money to be able to afford the dying. After the party, Jobe felt a pain under his rib cage accompanied by weezing in his chest when he inhaled. His new girlfriend (he turned his wife in for the new model about three years into the legal proceedings) took him to the hospital for some tests.
A week later Jobe was visiting his parents grave. he told them everything about the trial and how he and the board members dodged a bullet.
“Dad, your name is restored… it’s over,” he said smiling at his father’s headstone…he started coughing…his phone rang.
It was his doctor, and he didn’t sound too happy.
Jobe was worried.
“Jobe, how soon can you get to my office?” Asked the doctor.
Jobe started panicking.
“Whatever you have to tell me- just tell me,” Jobe said fearing the worse.
“Just tell me doc!” Jobe interrupted.
“Ok… you have stage five lukemia Jobe… it has spread all over. I don’t know if there is anything we can do about it,” the doctor reported.
“Hello… Jobe are you still there? There’s are some things we can try but-”
Jobe hung up on the doctor. He could taste the fire in his mouth from the velvet cake mound down in that hick-town all over again. He could smell the stink of that foamy stream he lapped into his face. He just shook his head somberly. He flopped down in front of his family name. He traced the letters of his father’s existance; for the first time in his life, it wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about the exhilaration of business. And it wasn’t about power…it was about being a son and making a father proud.
He suddenly realized that he had no son to make him proud. Yet another thing he didn’t do or have done to disappoint his father. He inherited the business from his father, but no son was going to inherit the business from him. After he dies, and that may be soon, everything his father worked for and everything he worked for will be… gone. He wrapped his arms around his parents headstone, put his face against the cold marble… and wept.