“Well don’t you see, sir? The problem’s been solved!” Jefferson said.
His boss looked at him from across the conference table with a furrowed brow. Jefferson’s coworkers sat waiting for the inevitable putdown. As soon as the boss started, they’d all rush in and savage Jefferson together. He’d recently been on a hot streak, meaning that he was in line to replace their old manager, who had died in a freak bicycle accident. If this presentation was a winner, he was sure to become their new overlord, then lord help them all.
“What do you mean, Jefferson? I told you that pigeons didn’t work for separating the tool parts, and now you want to introduce machines? Machines, Jefferson? Where will you get programmers or the budget.”
”Well, we have programmers, sir.”
“Yes, for that stupid mobile game. But that’s not going anywhere fast. Nobody wants to play ‘Is Your Refrigerator Running?’, no matter how we dress it up.”
Jefferson swallowed. This was his moment of truth.
“Sir, they’re actually not working on that right now. For the past week, I’ve had them creating a different mobile game. A mobile game for separating tool parts.”
Jefferson’s colleagues looked at each other excitedly. This might not just be the end of Jefferson’s managerial ambitions. This was assuredly a fireable offence. He’d be gone just as surely as if his bike had ran into a woodchipper, and without the mandatory funeral.
The boss glowered.
“You have 10 seconds to explain, Jefferson, before I take you out back and shoot you.”
“Well,” Jefferson swallowed, his voice suddenly quavery, “Instead of explaining, let me demonstrate. Danny, come in!”
Danny the intern came in, the only person in the room wearing a tie. He had sweat stains under his armpits, spinach in his teeth, and smelled faintly of fear and new car. He walked unsteadily to the front of the conference table.
“Danny!” Jefferson cried. “Please take out your cell phone, and open the app which I downloaded on it. Do not open the porn you have saved under the favorites in your browser.”
Danny turned bright red while the room laughed. Even the boss cracked a smile. Then Danny took his phone out of his pocket and, with shaking hands, opened the app.
“What do I do, sir?” he asked.
“Click on it.” Jefferson said.
A ringing sound was heard from Danny’s phone.
“Congratulations,” Jefferson said. “You’ve received a gold coin.”
“A gold coin?” the boss said. “Jefferson, how are you going to get the money to pay for this? It’s sure as hell not coming out of my budget.”
“It’s a virtual coin, sir”, Jefferson replied, “ Costs nothing. Now, Danny, click it again.”
“Nothing happened,” Danny said.
“Oh, that’s too bad. See if you can make it give you another gold coin.”
Danny fiddled around with his phone a bit, and then another ringing sound was heard from his phone.
“As you all might guess, Danny can get more gold coins by training the machines to sort the tools. Now all we have to do is get 100 more users, and we’re set.”
“But these gold coins,” the boss said, “they’re virtual. What’s the point of them?”
“Well, you use them to buy multipliers,” Jefferson said. “With enough gold coins, you can buy more gold coins, and sound and visual effects when you get a gold coin. It’s a treadmill effect.”
“Treadmill effect? But what sort of idiot would be pulled in by that garbage?”
Jefferson turned to Danny, who was busily involved with his phone.
“Danny,” Jefferson asked, “give me your phone.”
Danny paid him no attention.
“Danny,” Jefferson said, “give me your phone!”
No reply. Jefferson snatched the phone from Danny’s hand, and Danny continued to type away at the empty space. Then, suddenly realizing his phone was gone, Danny began to make a loud, keening sound, like a fire alarm. Everyone covered their ears, and Jefferson quickly put the phone back in Danny’s hands. The keening stopped, and Danny continued to play the game.
“This sort of idiot,” jefferson said. “There are millions of Dannies across America, and we only need a small number of them.”
“Brilliant!” the boss said. “Jefferson, damn it, never do this again, but you really pulled it off this time. This is really fantastic work, just never go behind my back like this again or you’re fired.”
“You got it, boss,” Jefferson said, and he smiled a nasty smile at his colleage. One gave him the finger in response, converted into a head scratch once the boss turned around.
It was going to be different at Tools Corp soon. Jefferson could tell you that much. Very different indeed.