There once lived a man named Mr. Vandyke who made more money in a year than he could spend in a lifetime. Every dollar he earned just made him want to work harder. Over time, this desire ruined his social life. His economics professor taught him that “time is money,” and this direct correlation between self-worth and income installed itself in his brain and wouldn’t let go.
Eventually he stopped meeting up with friends, and giving to charity, because it meant deducting from his value as a human-being. This is crazy, of course, but it was his mindset for better or worse. Soon, he had no choice but to work, because he stopped being invited anywhere. The only people he still spoke to were business relations. He would make money for them, and vice versa. At first, this made him unhappy; then it made him mad. “How could my friends penalize me for being successful,” he thought. Little by little, questions like this one led him to drink six or seven glasses of scotch a day.
He was sixty when all the drinking caught up to him. He was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer, and given one year to live. Until that moment, Mr. Vandyke hadn’t thought about where his money would go in the event of his death.
“Definitely not to a charity,” he thought, “those people didn’t earn it.” He also wasn’t going to give it all back to his company, because then he would have worked for nothing. The only choice he had was to find someone worthy. “I need to find someone like myself,” he decided.
So, the next day, he put out a memo to all of his employee’s stating that he was looking for a new assistant. He received one hundred and ninety-nine responses. Then, figuring it would take too much time to read over all the resumes, he picked three at random and chose to interview those candidates simultaneously. The meeting was scheduled for the following day at 9 am.
Candidate #1 was Mr. Buckwald, a junior economist, who wore too much cologne, and slicked back his hair. Candidate #2 was Ms. Wilson, a financial analyst whose shifty eyes showed that she was over-stressed and probably hyped up on energy drinks. Candidate #3 was Mr. Zane, a low-level accountant, with an unassuming manner and a pleasant smile.
“I’m going to ask you a few brief questions,” said Mr. Vandyke, “Firstly, can you tell me Mr. Buchwald how you feel about working over-time?”
“I’m all for it,” said Mr. Buchwald, “I’m willing to be on call 24/7 if that’s what you require.”
“I as well,” said Ms. Winston, “It would be a great honor. A great honor, sir. I live only a block away. Getting here in a hurry won’t be an issue.” Mr. Vandyke smiled, and looked at Mr. Zane.
“While I don’t mind working late,” said Mr. Zane, “Weekends will be off-limits for me. I understand that might be a deal-breaker, but I don’t want to commit myself to a schedule i can’t follow. I have an 8-month-old son at home, and my wife, and I don’t get to see them often enough. At the same time, though, I can assure you that all work will be completed by the end of the business day on Friday.”
“Very well,” said Mr.Vandyke, looking as if he meant the opposite. “I guess we know how you feel about family. How do you feel, Ms. Winston?”
“In theory, I am very pro-family,” said Ms. Winston, “but I don’t see myself getting married and having kids any time soon. It just seems like too risky an investment. Did you know that over half of all marriages end in divorce?”
“I got a divorce five years ago, and I’ve never felt better,” said Mr. Buchwald, eyeing up Ms. Morris. “The only thing that bothers me are my alimony and child support payments.”
“You don’t want to support your child?” said Mr. Zane, shocked. “I guess I could understand not liking alimony payments, but making your child suffer is just wrong.”
“Down, fella,” said Mr.Buchwald.
“Moving on again, how do each of you feel about Charity?”
“I think I can answer that for everyone.” said Mr. Zane without pause,”Ms. Winston feels that it would be an unwise investment, Mr. Buchwald has never thought of charity, you despise it, and I wish I made more money so I could afford to give some of it away.” Mr. Vandyke wasn’t sure how to react to this outburst. Part of him wanted to fire Mr. Zane for his impertinence, but the other part was impressed both because he knew Mr. Zane was right, and because Mr. Zane had the courage to speak his mind.
When the interview was over, Mr. Vandyke took Mr. Zane aside and made him his actual assistant. In the last year of Mr. Vandyke’s life, Mr. Zane served as a reminder that true success is a balance between work and play. To test this theory, Mr. Vandyke cashed in on all his sick days, and took grand tours around the world. He tangoed in Spain, flirted in France, and dined at the Zane residence nearly every Thursday. As for what happened with all the money, nobody knows for sure.
This story was written by Alex Schattner (7/23/12)