Snakes and Pills

121 - party rub

Nervously, the employee pushed his boss' door slightly ajar. Sliding his head in through the crevice, he asked: "May I have a moment, sir?"

The man behind the desk was stocky and nearly bald. He wore suspenders. His office was hot and musky. He refused to use the air conditioner that had been installed some years ago. If an old metal oscillating fan aided by an open window and the breeze provided by Mother Nature had been good enough for his father, then it was certainly good enough for him.

"Sure thing, Carridine. What's on your mind?" the boss said, while beckoning for his employee to come into the office. Meekly, Carridine slipped into the room, and gently slid the door shut behind him. He stood there. Though his boss appeared to be in a good mood, his employee knew that meant nothing. Appearances could be deceiving, and the boss' mood could turn on a dime, anyhow.

"Well," Carridine began, but his boss interrupted him. "Don't just stand there, come on, have a seat. Sit down," his boss kindly implored, gesturing to the two vinyl chairs placed in front of his desk. Carridine acquiesced, and sat in the chair on the left side. He could now hardly see his boss behind the stacks of papers on the desk. Invoices, inventories, and catalogs, waiting to be worked on.

"Thank you, sir," said Carridine, faking a smile of comfort. "So what is it?" his boss asked again.

"It's about the new product line which you've put into production this past week," Carridine answered.

"Hmm, that's what I was expecting. What is the problem, then?" the boss asked, still with no displeasure in his tone.

"Well, it's just the whole thing is kind of baffling to everyone, sir. From us engineers right down to the blue collar guys down on the floor, we just don't get it. I mean, gigantic bicycles?" Carridine asked in disbelief.

The boss chuckled. "Yes, that's right. Huge, towering, gigantic bicycles. That's what we bet the farm on, Carridine. You aren't a fool, you've seen the writing on the walls. Profits have been slipping for the past decade. It's only through some creative bookkeeping that we manage to stay in the black at all. Making bicycles--standard, old, boring bicycles, is going to the way of the dinosaurs."

The boss sighed, briefly taking a moment to reminisce about long-gone glory days. Then, he continued. "We needed something big, something radical, something different. And thus the gigantic bicycle was born. A concept to save our dying business."

Carridine waited patiently for his boss to finish talking, and then waited a few more moments in order to create the illusion that he was considering what his boss had said, letting it fully sink in.

"Right, but why, gigantic bikes?" Carridine asked, again.

"It's hip! It's retro! You know, bicycles used to be quite large. Among the youth, retro and nostalgia are very, very popular," the boss confidently responded.

"That's all well and good, sir. But it's not even like we're making modern-day penny-farthings, which, as impractical and unsafe as they might be, would at least have that throwback hipster appeal. These are just ordinary bikes, but scaled up to be really, really big. I don't even know how people will ride them."

The boss' brow furrowed. "Carridine, I really thought you were smarter than that. If we just make big bikes that are literally the same as old-fashioned big bikes, that won't work. We won't be innovating! That, my boy, is the name of the game. Do you see?"

He didn't. But he nodded his head anyway.


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