Volume 44, Issue 1 - January 2009

Passing The Buck(et)s
by Lyle R. Hill

Hoping that the number I had been given would actually work … I picked up the phone and made the call. I was not disappointed … the call was answered half way through the first ring.“

Hello,” the person that answered the phone stated somewhat drearily. “Good morning,” I began, “my name is Lyle Hill and I’m trying to reach Mr. Mickey Scifo.”

“Who gave you this number?” the now somewhat agitated voice on the other end of the line fired back.

“Are you Mickey Scifo?” I asked.

“Yeah, but this is my private line so I wanna know how you got this number.”

“Well Mickey, apparently one of my guys knows one of your guys or maybe one of your guy’s guys so it really wasn’t all that difficult to get your number. I hope you’re not upset. I mean, you being from Chicago and all, I would think that you would understand.”
“OK … what do you want?”

“Money.”

“Money?”

“Yeah, Mickey, I was told that you’re the person in charge of giving money away under some program by the name of BARF or BARK or something like that. So I was kinda hoping you could help me out … with a little money that is.”

“I assume Mr. Hill that you’re referring to the Business Assistance and Rescue Financing program.”

“Listen Mickey, you can call it by whatever fancy name you want, I just want to know how I can get in on the action. You see, it seems to me that everybody else is getting buckets of bailout money lately so I figure there might be some available for me too.”

“Are you a bank Mr. Hill? Or an auto manufacturer or a mortgage financing institution?”

“No, but I am from Chicago, and with Washington being run by Chicagoans these days, I just figured that I could maybe somehow qualify for some of those bailout bucks that are being passed out.”

“Well, Mr. Hill, there is a slight possibility that you might qualify for assistance if indeed you are in a distressed industry and, as you say, you are from the windy city. But we have to do it by the book. No shortcuts … no special treatment of any kind. Things are different here. Agreed?”

“Oh, all right.”

“Good. Now what business did you say you were in Mr. Hill?”

“The glass business, Mickey.”

“OK, let me look that up … oh yes … oh my. Wow, apparently you really are in a distressed industry! Says right here that most of your industry’s problems stem from the fact that you have historically sold yourselves much too cheaply. Unrealistic estimates … price cutting … poor negotiating … that kind of thing. Basically victims of your own poor business practices. Currently, the BARFALOT guide puts your industry near the top of those in extreme distress.”

“Mickey, while I’m really only interested in getting as much money from you in as short a time span as possible, would you mind telling me exactly what BARFALOT stands for … it would probably kill me not to know.”

“Of course, Mr. Hill. BARFALOT is the official directory of BARF and stands for the Business Assistance and Rescue Financing Actuarial Listing of Officially Troubled Industries.”

“But wouldn’t that then be BARFALOTI?”

“Yeah, and in the beginning it was but we couldn’t get all of that on the letterhead so we dropped the Industries part. You know, in times like these, we all have to do a little more with a little less.”

“OK, Mickey, if you say so, but let’s get back to the subject of all this money being given away by the government. Specifically, how do I get some?”

“All right, Mr. Hill. If four of the following five questions are answered correctly, then I think we can get you some money. That doesn’t sound too difficult now does it? So, are you ready?”

“My first answer is ‘no’ and my second answer is ‘yes’ and let me quickly add that I hope the next three questions are not too much harder than these first two.” “What are you talking about, Mr. Hill?”

“What do you mean what am I talking about? You said there would be five questions and then you asked me two right away … ‘did it sound hard’ and ‘was I ready?’ I answered those correctly and now I’ve answered your third question about ‘what am I talking about,’ so now I only have to get one more right and I get my bailout money. And I’ve gotta tell you Mickey, so far this has been a whole lot easier than I would have ever imagined.”

“OK, that’s about enough. Now one last time, who gave you my number?”

“Johnny ‘The Mooch’ Rago … four for four … I can’t stand it!”

“Are you out of your mind, Hill?”

“Ah-ha! I knew there would be at least one trick question. But I already got four right so I don’t have to answer this one … even though I’d have at least a 50-50 chance. So when do I get my bailout bucks?”

“What will it take for you to go away, Hill?”

“I won’t accept a penny less than $10,000!”“Mr. Hill, I will mail you a personal check tonight for fifty bucks if you’ll promise to never call me again.” “I’ll take it!” 

USG
© Copyright 2009 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.