(Note: This is the piece that won me third place in the Robert Benchley Humor Writing Contest. Am I making too much of this, considering it’s only–come on!–Third Place? Probably. It it seems pathetic to you, I’m sorry. It is pathetic. . .)
Budget-Cutting the Hard Way
I read in the paper that the city manager of a certain Up North town came up with a clever idea for saving roughly ten-percent of the town’s $300,000 annual budget. He recommended that council eliminate the city manager’s position. He said it out loud and three in the audience said they couldn’t hear him, but the other four said they did. It was out there.
Now, normally this particular council would be slow to act on anything the city manager might suggest, but this time they barely took time to blink and clear their throats before they voted unanimously in favor of the proposal.
After the final vote, the now ex-city manager, apparently dazzled by his own audacity, could be heard muttering, “It wasn’t an easy decision. I don’t enjoy getting rid of myself.”
I shouldn’t wonder. It’s never easy getting rid of one’s self. It’s especially difficult to get rid of one’s self and still be around to say, “I don’t enjoy getting rid of myself.” One usually doesn’t have that option.
Personally, I think that particular council acted a little hastily. What if, in the act of doing his duty, in the heat of the budget-cutting moment, he simply forgot who the city manager was?
Of course, it could be he was grandstanding. He could have been saying, in effect, “See, I’m taking my budget-cutting responsibilities so seriously, I’m even willing to let you consider doing away with–heh, heh–my job. Of course, I don’t expect you to really do it; it’s just my little way of expressing my willingness to explore all options. Heh, heh.
But maybe council had other things on their minds and didn’t get the “heh, heh”.
Another possibility is that he really had been thinking of getting rid of himself. It can happen. I’ve done it myself from time to time. Luckily, since there was no urgency attached to my decision, I’ve been saved up to now by my penchant for procrastination. Then, too, there wasn’t $30,000 at stake. Nor did I have to worry about an over-zealous town council being ready to pounce on my ponderings at any given moment, then rushing to make them a reality before I could even say, “Kidding!”
Whatever the reasons, what’s done is done, and the end of this strange-but-true story is sad, if predictable. Since that unfortunate turn of events, the now ex-city manager hasn’t had one single job offer. In all honesty, could he have expected anything else? Seems to me he could at least have worded his announcement a little differently. There aren’t many employers willing to go out on a limb and hire a man who had just recently gotten rid of himself. It stands to reason that any potential employer /interviewer would have no choice but to scribble across the now ex-city manager’s application, “The applicant lacked substance.”
(Post #6 in the NaBloPoMo Challenge)