Before he won the lottery, Lee Jones’s life was as ordinary as
his name, and J. Pennington Whitley’s life was as lustrous as his
name. The two worked at the same place: Whitley International,
Inc. Jones was a clerk in Accounts Payable, and Whitley, scion of
the venerable Whitley family, occupied a corner office in the
executive suite on the top floor of the Whitley Building.
They met once when the head of Accounts Payable, put a
sealed manila envelope in Jones’s hand and walked him over to the
executive elevator. His boss told Jones, “Hand this to Mr. Whitley
personally.” The elevator rose, the door slid noiselessly open, and
Jones saw for the first time in his life what a corporation’s executive
suite looks like. He didn’t get a chance to look around because J.
Pennington Whitley was standing at the elevator door, waiting for
the envelope. Jones placed it in his hand and went back to work.
Jones was in his mid-thirties at the time and had been with
Whitley International, Inc. since he was 16. He had started in the mail
room and had gone to night school and taken online courses until
he had a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and a master’s degree
in finance. In addition to his degrees Lee Jones had a gift for
corporate finance that was far beyond the scope of his classmates
and contemporaries in vision and spunk. While he slogged away in
Accounts Payable, Jones developed a powerful but exotic fiscal
process that, if implemented, would put Whitley International, or any
other similar corporation, far ahead of its competitors.
Jones knew that he needed a boost up the corporate monkey
tree from someone who was solidly established in the executive
suite. His meeting with J. Pennington Whitley, gave Jones the
opportunity to make his move. He decided to present his plan, in
detail, to Mr. Whitley, and arranged through friends higher up in the
Monkey tree to present his plan to Whitley in person. The result was
initially disastrous, but was ultimately it was eminently successful
Mr. Whitley, as it turned out, desperately needed a corporate
Hail Mary to save his hide. The shareholders were unhappy with the
recent performance of Whitley International, Inc., and were planning
to replace Whitley with a more dynamic and forceful leader.
Fortunately Jones presented his powerful project privately, almost
clandestinely to Whitley who realized immediately that the
corporate gods were smiling on him.
At that point Whitley did what top branch corporate monkeys
have been doing since time began. Whitley took credit for the
project and threw the smaller monkey out of the tree.
Jones, who had assumed he was destined for corporate
greatness found himself out on the street, sacked from Whitley
International, Inc. for reasons so bogus that the Human Relations
officer who fired him couldn’t even look him in the eye.
That ironically was the very day Lee Jones bought a lottery
ticket and chose a winning number worth $556 million. No one else
had chosen that number, so the whole prize was his.
Jones bought all the shaky Whitley International stock he could
lay his hands on. Whitley stock holders and investors virtually
trampled each other to sell the stock to him at the price he set. Then
he dismantled the company and sold it off in pieces. The last piece
of Whitley International, Inc. Jones sold was the Whitley Building
itself. Jones kept the top floors of the building and the executive suite
for himself. And he had several million dollars left after the last
government financial investigation was completed and the last
investor lawsuit was settled.
With that money Jones set up a foundation and gave young,
smart, unconventional entrepreneurs a leg up The Monkey Tree. The
enterprise was highly successful. In a twist that happens quite often in
real life, but rarely in fiction, one of the most successful of Jones’s
entrepreneurs was a young woman named Charlotte Whitley. She
was the daughter of J. Pennington Whitley. Ms. Whitley had moved
to the city from upstate New York where her father had settled down
on a horse farm.
Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co