Author Topic: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk  (Read 1699 times)

tyrannosaurus vex

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The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« on: March 18, 2017, 04:20:00 am »
We follow the journey of Sal, an ordinary middle-aged insurance clerk who, as a way of fantasizing away the cosmic pointlessness of his existence, dreams of a world without violence, poverty, and injustice and the many things he could do to effect change, if he only had the opportunity. One day, on a whim, he buys a lottery ticket that turns out to be the only winning ticket for the biggest jackpot in history -- over a billion dollars after taxes and fees.

Being a reasonably intelligent guy, he manages to set up a trust to receive the winnings. His trusted friend is a decent lawyer who is able to keep his identity a secret by filing all the appropriate paperwork through an impenetrable bureaucratic maze. At first he does nothing with the money: keeps his job, doesn't buy anything extravagant, doesn't even pay off his mortgage or car loan. He just goes about his life as usual, patiently waiting for the press to die down and quietly investing some money, more as a hobby than anything else.

After the furor in the media has subsided, he sets his plan in motion. He buys a private island somewhere in Indonesia through a series of shell companies, and begins developing a very high-tech, secure compound, mostly underground. He arranges to fake his own death, abandoning his life and retiring to his new compound. From this place he recruits a private army of highly-trained and very effective mercenaries, hackers, and financial experts. He begins slowly exerting the force of their combined expertise on global markets through strategically imploding large corporations and even a few smaller national banks and draining their value into his own stockpiled wealth. In the ensuing political and social unrest, his troops sweep in along with coordinated humanitarian aid and public works projects, transforming war zones almost overnight into stable states. He bankrolls resistance movements here, recognized governments there, and a large array of media outlets. He even successfully masterminds the assassinations of many of the world's worst despots, including some in highly influential countries.

The whole world is confounded by the sudden appearance of this state-level actor, operating apparently on par with a global superpower, but no one can figure out who is behind it. His final move is to force the United States, the EU, Russia, and China into an alliance against him by knocking off a few low-level diplomats and sabotaging some of their most important military operations. With no way of locating or even identifying him, the alliance is forced to pool their intelligence resources and learn to work together, accidentally causing world peace.

"Ha! I have done it!" he cries over simulcast TV, radio, and Internet streams, "I have fooled you into working together for the good of mankind!"

People everywhere cheer. Politicians, finally realizing the master plan is nearing its ultimate goal, manage to track the signal to the secret compound in Indonesia. They bomb it. Then they also bomb each other to erase the compromising intelligence they all have on one another. Everyone dies.

"BZZZZZZZZZZZ!" goes the alarm clock. Sal opens his eyes and heaves out a heavy, frustrated sigh. "Yeah, that would never work. Geez, what a dumb idea," he says out loud to no one in particular. Rolling out of bed and into his slippers, Sal gets up to make the coffee. His grand scheme for helping the world has been foiled again, but he refuses to be deterred. He is a good man, and he will, eventually, think of something. This scene repeats more or less daily for the next forty years, and then Sal dies.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 03:35:24 pm by tyrannosaurus vex »
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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2017, 01:58:21 pm »
:mittens:

Nailed it!  :lulz:
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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2017, 03:40:25 pm »
:mittens:

Best use of the "it was all a dream" plot twist I've ever seen.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2017, 01:04:28 pm »
I really like this piece. I like how Sal is described as Ordinary. That actually gives me a little hope, if the average middle age insurance salesman out there really is dreaming of utopia. Like there's this benevolent potential in people, but it's being held back. Is it withheld by the grim realism of human nature? or is it merely something internal in Sal that makes him stay in the confines of everyday life?

What keeps Sal in stasis? Is it a feeling of helplessness? ie That Sal would be benevolent but he doesn't have the resources. That Sal would be benevolent but it wouldn't change anything.

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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2017, 01:13:26 pm »
I think that one thing that holds Sal back is that his dream is so big partly as an excuse not to take any action at all. After all, if we're waiting on that one big dream, that big windfall, the key to fixing everything, it's almost as good as  taking an ordinary action that incrementally improves the world, right?

So instead of working for an NGO that makes people's lives better, volunteering with disadvantaged youth, or donating his time to help nonprofits start up, Sal dreams.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2017, 02:14:22 pm »
Nigel gets it. Sal is dismayed by the world being a news but feels overwhelmed and powerless. He has bought into the myth that small deeds can't add up in the face of such globalisery, and doesn't think he'll ever have the resources to really make a difference. In his mind the best use of his time is to dream up ways he could make a difference, if he had the money or the time or the skill. Which isn't inherently "bad", but it isn't very useful, either.
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 02:17:14 pm »
Also, yeah, I wrote this mainly to kick myself out of Sal's position.
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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2017, 05:00:44 pm »
I liked it, but now with Nigel's postscript I love it. May I use both?
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tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2017, 05:46:27 pm »
I liked it, but now with Nigel's postscript I love it. May I use both?
you can use anything of mine since you're such a swell person.
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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2017, 07:45:02 pm »
I liked it, but now with Nigel's postscript I love it. May I use both?

Feel free to use mine in whole or part!
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2017, 07:46:29 pm »
Nigel gets it. Sal is dismayed by the world being a news but feels overwhelmed and powerless. He has bought into the myth that small deeds can't add up in the face of such globalisery, and doesn't think he'll ever have the resources to really make a difference. In his mind the best use of his time is to dream up ways he could make a difference, if he had the money or the time or the skill. Which isn't inherently "bad", but it isn't very useful, either.

I really like it. I think it's an important message because most people are now so convinced that they can't do anything that they don't even begin to try.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2017, 10:06:51 pm »
I liked it, but now with Nigel's postscript I love it. May I use both?
you can use anything of mine since you're such a swell person.

Slander!

I liked it, but now with Nigel's postscript I love it. May I use both?

Feel free to use mine in whole or part!

Thanks!
Overheating Pheremone Pustule of Last Saturday's Jiggle Fun| _xgeWireToEvent: Unknown extension 131, this should never happen.

Don't fucking judge me, I've got tentacles for a face.

tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2017, 02:47:09 am »
I really like this piece. I like how Sal is described as Ordinary. That actually gives me a little hope, if the average middle age insurance salesman out there really is dreaming of utopia. Like there's this benevolent potential in people, but it's being held back. Is it withheld by the grim realism of human nature? or is it merely something internal in Sal that makes him stay in the confines of everyday life?

What keeps Sal in stasis? Is it a feeling of helplessness? ie That Sal would be benevolent but he doesn't have the resources. That Sal would be benevolent but it wouldn't change anything.

If there is a message of hope in here somewhere it would be that the power to make a difference is within your grasp at just about any moment. It's just that it's so much easier not to, and easier by at least a little bit to make the wrong kind of difference. With the sheer immensity of problems on the scale of civilizations that we are confronted with thanks to the miracles of modern communication technology, good but small deeds seem impotent. There's really no excuse for it, but it seems like it's harder to give a shit about helping one person when there are seven billion in line.
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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2017, 04:12:27 pm »
I really like this piece. I like how Sal is described as Ordinary. That actually gives me a little hope, if the average middle age insurance salesman out there really is dreaming of utopia. Like there's this benevolent potential in people, but it's being held back. Is it withheld by the grim realism of human nature? or is it merely something internal in Sal that makes him stay in the confines of everyday life?

What keeps Sal in stasis? Is it a feeling of helplessness? ie That Sal would be benevolent but he doesn't have the resources. That Sal would be benevolent but it wouldn't change anything.

If there is a message of hope in here somewhere it would be that the power to make a difference is within your grasp at just about any moment. It's just that it's so much easier not to, and easier by at least a little bit to make the wrong kind of difference. With the sheer immensity of problems on the scale of civilizations that we are confronted with thanks to the miracles of modern communication technology, good but small deeds seem impotent. There's really no excuse for it, but it seems like it's harder to give a shit about helping one person when there are seven billion in line.

Sort of the principle that it's easier to dream big and do nothing, than to take a small action that will mean something to a few people.

I guess maybe it's the "easier" part that's the problem. I keep telling my students, volunteer, volunteer, volunteer... but they say they don't have time, and they say "What's in it for me?", and they say maybe later.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


tyrannosaurus vex

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Re: The Parable of Sal the Insurance Clerk
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2017, 05:11:16 pm »
I really like this piece. I like how Sal is described as Ordinary. That actually gives me a little hope, if the average middle age insurance salesman out there really is dreaming of utopia. Like there's this benevolent potential in people, but it's being held back. Is it withheld by the grim realism of human nature? or is it merely something internal in Sal that makes him stay in the confines of everyday life?

What keeps Sal in stasis? Is it a feeling of helplessness? ie That Sal would be benevolent but he doesn't have the resources. That Sal would be benevolent but it wouldn't change anything.

If there is a message of hope in here somewhere it would be that the power to make a difference is within your grasp at just about any moment. It's just that it's so much easier not to, and easier by at least a little bit to make the wrong kind of difference. With the sheer immensity of problems on the scale of civilizations that we are confronted with thanks to the miracles of modern communication technology, good but small deeds seem impotent. There's really no excuse for it, but it seems like it's harder to give a shit about helping one person when there are seven billion in line.

Sort of the principle that it's easier to dream big and do nothing, than to take a small action that will mean something to a few people.

I guess maybe it's the "easier" part that's the problem. I keep telling my students, volunteer, volunteer, volunteer... but they say they don't have time, and they say "What's in it for me?", and they say maybe later.

I'm hearing a whole lot of this "what's in it for me/us?" lately. Why should we take in refugees. Why should we subsidize healthcare. Why should we feed hungry kids at lunch time. Why should we do anything. And yes those are bigger questions of public policy, but the reasoning behind not doing them an outgrowth of this "what's in it for me" thing that we all share to some degree. It's odd to hear this sentiment voiced so openly, because I could swear that as I was growing up, the very same Right-Wing Christians who raised me, but are now behaving abhorrently, used to tell me "a good deed is its own reward." What happened to that?
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