Thursday, September 11, 2008

Once upon a time an old woman named Martha owned a store where she sold thimbles and faucets and orange rope. One day a man came by selling stuffed animals, and Martha bought one.

She put Quackers the Duck in her front window, and two minutes later somebody came in and bought it.

The next day when the salesman came, Martha bought Quackers the Duck and Peanut the Elephant. She put them in her window, and two minutes later somebody bought those too.

"How everyone loves these little animals!" Martha said to herself, and the next time the salesman came she bought five. Two minutes after she put them out, one man bought them all.

A few days later Rick, an unemployed juggler, saw people scurrying from the store with their arms full of Beanie Babies. "What's going on?" he asked one.

"That old shopkeeper don't know shit!" the man said. "She's selling these things for two bucks each, and they're pulling down fifteen on eBay."

Rick checked the prices online, and he raced right back to the old woman's shop. "Lady," he said, "you're sitting on a gold mine here. I got a foolproof way both of us can make lots of money. Just put me in charge of the store."

The old woman loved Rick's enthusiasm. "Well, sure!" she said. "In fact, I'm so confident you're going to do a great job I'll give you half the store when you retire."

"Thanks!" Rick said. "But could you give me eight million dollars instead, in case the place goes bankrupt while I'm in charge?"

"Okay," the old woman said.

Rick took every penny the old woman had and bought Beanie Babies. He bought Brownie the Bear, Derby the Horse, and Nana the Monkey. He bought Punchers the Lobster and Chilly the Polar Bear. He paid a dollar each, but charged eight dollars in the store. Still, they flew off the shelves. Rick bought himself a new condo and a brand new car.

Rick went to the bank and told them the story. Dollar signs lit up their eyes. They lent him a million dollars so he could buy a million Beanie Babies. He sold those, and bought himself five more houses with the proceeds. And then he went to ten more banks and borrowed ten million more dollars. He bought half the Beanie Babies in the world and put them in the store.

These didn't sell quite as fast. In fact, only a hundred of them sold that day. Rick wasn't worried, but he'd made friends with lots of other shopkeepers who were. "I'm a little too heavily invested in Beanie Babies," his friend Stan said. "Would you buy mine for just five dollars each?"

"I've already got a lot," Rick said.

"How about if I pay you a million-dollar 'commission' to keep for yourself?"

"It's a deal," Rick said.

Now Rick had twenty houses, eighty cars, and a hundred million dollars. The old lady's store had thirty million Beanie Babies on its shelves. Some of the newer ones, though, weren't that exciting. Rick didn't see the attraction of Trudy the Toaster Oven. He didn't know why anybody would buy Lonnie the Linoleum Floor. He thought you'd have to be an idiot to buy Preston the Posturepedic Mattress.

And so did everybody else.

That day, not a single customer came in. Nor the next day. Nor the day after that. And now Rick too got worried. "How am I going to pay back all the loans?" he asked himself. He told the bank owners about his problems, and they realized if they didn't want to lose all their money, something desperate had to be done.

They called President Bush. "I'll fix this mess!" he declared.

The President phoned Rick that very minute. "You and your friends should be ashamed!" he said. "This is the height of irresponsibility! Look at all those debts you've run up! Our taxpayer dollars will pay back those loans, because we know deep down that Beanie Babies will become valuable again, and if the old lady goes out of business we won't have any place to buy thimbles or faucets or orange rope. But as of today, you're out of a job. You and your friends must take your millions of dollars and go back to one of your homes!"

"Oh," Rick said. "Okay."


No comments: