Ubi est mea?

I answered the phone on the second ring and instantly recognized the deep, gravelly voice on the other end of the line. Loved by few and feared by most, it was the voice of Johnny “The Mooch” Rago.

“Mooch,” I began, “how are you, and what do you want? But before you answer that, please remember that I have four grandkids in college, so I have no money.”

“You disappoint me, Hill. I’m not calling to get your help; I’m calling to help you.”

I don’t ever remember being on the receiving end of any help from “The Mooch” in the past … oh wait, I’m wrong. He did help me move into my first house in North Riverside, Ill., when we were both in our late twenties. Afterward, my wife, Sandi, made the mistake of telling him to stop in for dinner whenever he was in the area. This should have been a safe offer because he lived more than 20 miles from where we had moved. However, he soon started showing up three or four nights a week, and very few people in the world can match “The Mooch” in food consumption on a pound-for-pound basis.

“Listen, Hill,” he continued, “I just want to make sure you and your son are taking advantage of all the government programs out there for businesses like yours. Billions have been set aside for people like you, and it’s really time for you to say to yourself … ubi est mea.”

“Mooch, what are you talking about?”

“People are getting buckets of money from the government now, Hill, under all kinds of programs. So now it’s time for you and your kid to get on board the gravy train. Everybody else is doing it, and you owe it to yourselves not to miss out. So I’m gonna do you a favor and send you a copy of the government’s BARFALOT Guide for Business. It’s full of stuff that you can apply for. Like I’m telling you, Hill, ubi est mea?”

“And you think we would qualify for some of this money?”

“I’m gonna help you, Hill. You fill the forms out the way I show you, and it will be a snap. You just gotta know how to play the game and believe me, your friend The Mooch is an All-Star when it comes to playing against the government. You know I’ve got friends in the right places.

“You know, Mooch, I might be interested, but my curiosity will get the better of me if I don’t find out what BARFALOT stands for. I know the government likes these acronym things but BARFALOT? Are you putting me on?”

“Hill, I would never put you on. We go way back, and I like you. BARFALOT is the official directory of the government’s BARF Program and stands for Business Assistance and Rescue Financing for Actively Listed and Officially Troubled Industries.”

“Wait, Mooch, shouldn’t it then be BARFALOTI?”

“Come on, Hill. It is the government. Let us not get picky. Besides, if they want to throw money at you, I think you need to shut up and stand in line. Right?”

“I am not sure, Mooch. I don’t really see how any of the businesses I’m working with are qualified for any governmental assistance. And I honestly don’t think the industries we work in are particularly troubled right now, either. Certainly not as bad as other industries.”

“Hill, have you lost your mind? I mean, it’s un-American not to take money from the government when they want to give it to you. The rallying call for every elected politician and red-blooded patriot in the country is ubi est mea, and here you are thinking about turning your back on your friends, neighbors and elected officials. If you don’t get in line, you will never be able to look at yourself in the mirror again. In the history of this great nation, there has never been as many programs available to put money into your pockets. Lots of money.”

“Hey, Mooch, you keep using that ubi something phrase, and I don’t know what that means. What’s that all about?”

“It’s a Latin term, Hill. It means where is mine? That’s the first question an elected official and his or her family members and friends ask. It’s as American as Honda or Hyundai.”

“You know, Mooch, I always hoped that time and age would somehow mellow you, but you are as cynical and twisted as ever.”

“Hill, are you in or not? The government is giving money away by the truckloads right now, and your old friend The Mooch is willing to help you get your fair share of it. Just like everybody else is doing.”

“One thing I don’t understand, Mooch, is why you are so willing to help us get all this free money you’re talking about. What’s in it for you?”

“Because, Hill, once you get yours, then I can say to you … UBI EST MEA?”

Lyle R. Hill is president of Glass.com®, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com.

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