Actuary Sketch

A reasonably well-appointed office, with a plain chair in front of a tidy desk. An expensive leather chair is behind it. In it is a well-groomed man in a jacket, obviously an executive. He reaches out to an intercom.

Boss: Jenkins, might I have a word with you?

Jenkins enters and sits. He is dressed not quite as well, and nervously fidgets.

Boss: Jenkins, it's come to my attention that your work isn't quite what it should be.

Jenkins: Sir, I -

Boss: As a matter of fact, the news is bad. Verrrry bad.

Jenkins: Sir, if I -

Boss: So bad that this problem has been brought to my attention. I'm a busy man and don't have time for every piddling little tempest that sweeps through Actuarial. But when a mistake of this magnitude occurs, it is noticed. Now, what do you have to say for yourself?

Jenkins: It wasn't that bad, sir -

Boss: "Wasn't that bad"? Our regional office in the Crimea was overrun yesterday by an angry mob! Six clerks and an inspector barely escaped with their lives. Ms. McGuiness sprained her ankle climbing out the washroom window. Several others' home have been razed, and they are now in hiding. Our stock is crashing and has brought down several eastern European economies along with it, leading to famine and war! Explain, please, how this "wasn't that bad".

Jenkins: Well, it... uh... (Looks down. A beat.)

Boss: I see. This is the kind of egregious error in judgment that we at Nelson, Minna and Trail take extremely seriously. We've no choice but to make an example of you, my boy.

Jenkins: Not - my job! But - but I born to be an actuary!

Boss: Precisely. Your job is safe, but I'm afraid your mother won't be so lucky. (addressing intercom) Bring her in.

Two burly men enter, hustling in between them an old frump in housecoat and curlers.

Jenkins: Mom?

Mom: Arthur - oh, I'm so ashamed.

Jenkins: Why is my mother here?

Boss: Shut up. You were quite right, Jenkins, you were born to be an actuary. In fact, we paid a rather handsome fee to make sure that you were raised to desire nothing more than to succeed in that position. Yet, it seems our money wasn't well spent. It's too late to recoup it - a deal is a deal, after all, and her vital organs can't be worth much at her age - so I'm afraid we're going to have to fire your mother.

Jenkins: What?

Boss: Look, old gal, your product isn't quite up to snuff. So please return the keys to the Alfa, the chalet in Aspen, and the platinum card. Oh, and we'll be wanting the codebook as well. Take her out.

Jenkins: Aspen? Codebook? Mother, what is all this?

She looks at him sadly and looks away. The guards escort her out.

Boss: And be out of the penthouse by seven tonight! (addressing intercom) Reba, find a new location for the Hollywood party tonight. Make sure Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Ovitz are informed.

Reba: Yes, Mr. Muleswater.

Jenkins: Oh my God, what's happening?

Boss: Take it like a man. So your mother got fired. It happens every day.

Jenkins: But, the party... I was really looking forward to it. It's been thirty-six years... I'll never get to go out on a date now.

Last updated 3 December 1999
All contents ©1997-2002 Mark L. Irons