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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Big Business--A Retrospective

My son, Donald Trump, is to big business what Bill Gates is to electronic solitaire. He exploits the common good to create a formerly free product that people stand in line to pay money for. If Omarosa had taken lessons from this kid, she would have a corner office at Trump Tower and the Main with the Ugly Hair would be matching up accessories for her.

My son “The Don” maintains a network of dedicated employees that work hard to support his extravagant lifestyle. The fact that he’s in the seventh grade is a bonus. Money made under the school desk is not easily tracked by results-oriented Internal Revenue officers. I’m nourishing hopes that he’ll support me during retirement in case of undesirable Social Security trends.

One morning as The Don was leaving the car for Algebra class, enough change fell out of his pockets to finance gumballs for a middle school chewathon.

“It’s okay,” he shrugged, nonchalantly sweeping the pile into a mini dustpan and dumping the lot into his jacket pocket where it ripped through the lining and crashed to the sidewalk, chipping out a divot in the concrete the size of a gold bar. “I’m rolling in it.”

“That’s preferable to stepping in it,” as my Old Man, an old hand at Black Jack used to say.

Normally this sort of statement from a twelve-year-old is alarming to a parent. But, having lived with this particular twelve-year-old for about forty years, I was as cool as Frosty’s button nose—on the outside. The turmoil inside could have caused his corncob pipe to spontaneously combust. I couldn’t help but remember The Kid’s past forays into Big Business.

Taking a lesson from his older brother, who cleaned out the pockets and lunchboxes of all the kids at Daycare playing draw poker until I discovered the trend and made him repay the winnings—nickels, drink boxes, and all, he stuck to value-added enterprises that ensured customer satisfaction. During the last fad faze, The Kid bartered his lunch for highly collectable trading cards and took advantage of an established market of eager ten year olds who readily traded their allowance—and their lunch—for hard-to-come-by cards. He scored his first card for a Twinkie, invested in a carton of Ho-Ho’s, and by the time The Kid graduates from high school, he will either be a multi-millionaire or a convicted felon. Either way, I’m not liable for college tuition.

I’m not saying this kid is different, but last year he listed an underground laboratory, strength of a gorilla, and stock options as the main items on his Christmas wish list. In a fit of sudden inspiration, he invested his birthday money in a metal detector and now he collects treasures on the playground the way other kids collect bubble gum wrappers in their jacket pockets. He’s gathered enough jewelry at recess to open his own pawn shop.

Other kids have dressers to hold their clothes. This one uses his bureau like a cash register: tens and twenties in one side; fives, ones, and loose change in the other. I borrowed spare change for coffee from him until I realized he was charging ten and a half percent interest. I stopped giving him ice cream money when he offered to change a fifty.

His latest venture is pure genius. In an age where instant gratification is as close as your Blackberry, today’s tykes spend their pocket money on cheat guides for video games that are obsolete before the clerk hands them their receipt. My young entrepreneur launched a line of energetic young players with well-conditioned thumbs, who beat the games for their less talented or motivationally challenged friends. For a price, of course.

When I discovered this enterprise, I didn’t know whether to pat him on the back, send him to his room, or sign him up for political office. “Kids PAY you to play their video games?” My mind couldn’t grasp the concept.

“Technically, that’s not the exact truth,” he explained, as serious as Dan Rather under intense questioning. This kid knows more about technicalities that Johnnie Cochran knows about loopholes. “I created the concept, so I don’t actually do the physical labor. I assign a customer service representative to handle the problem, and he pays me out of the money he earns.”

“You’re getting paid for playing games you’re not even playing?”

“Ummmm. Yes.”

“Any chance I could get in on the action?”

“Mom, this may be a family business, but I’ve got to be realistic. You’re lousy at video games. You always die. But you can give me a ride to Jake’s house. I have to make a pick-up.”

“Okay,” I said, grabbing my keys. “But it’ll cost you.”

What can I say? A girl’s got to get ahead the best way she can. And unless The Don cleans his room pretty soon, he’s looking at a hostile takeover.


colbymarshall said...

and with his payout, he can pay someone else to do his combover, heehee

Dawn said...

priceless! My favorite line was the multimillionaire or convicted felon. :)

At least you don't have girls--you'd have to worry about them selling their bodies to pay for college! I know, I know, the current Nicole Dylan thing is not funny but... I'm not the humor-writing bajaffe, either. :)