If you missed Part 1, start here.
“Dear… God,” said Craig.
Buford and Marlon came sprinting from the Burger King across the street. They had decided to chase after Craig, who apparently had ‘desecrated’ the restaurant they worked at when he spilled the french fries he had ordered after passing through the drive thru. Still soaking wet from the coca-cola the two had poured on him, Craig had no choice but to rush inside the auditorium and begin the conference.
This was Craig’s last real shot to turn things around, and he knew it. The last few months had been difficult – one odd-job after another was no way to pay the bills. Not long ago Craig was one of Forbes top 10 motivational speakers, and now he found it difficult just to get himself out of bed every morning. With an imminent foreclosure in the works, everything was riding on this conference – after all, fifteen of the country’s richest CEOs had come to hear him speak.
Craig entered the auditorium, where he estimated five to ten thousand business professionals sat waiting for his talk.
“Where have you been?” said Darcy, his assistant. “You’re late!” She reached out to straighten his tie, then noticed the coca-cola drenching his suit. “Oh my God-”
“Just work with me, okay? Where’s my mic?”
“You look like shit.”
Craig stared back at her.
“Here,” said Darcy. She held out the microphone, and he grabbed it from her.
Craig turned it on, then secretly wished he could somehow fast-forward the next five hours. He opened while walking up the center aisle toward the stage.
“The key to success,” he began. There must have been at least a thousand murmurs about the dark soft drink dripping from his suit. He climbed on stage, then walked toward the podium. Every step he took was accompanied by a rubbery ‘squeak.’ Craig adjusted his collar.
“You see the key to success is-” A sharp ringing from the microphone interrupted Craig and caused many in the audience to cover their ears. Craig lowered his head and sighed, then began to turn and twist his ear, a nervous habit he hadn’t been able to break since he was a child.
The hushed voices surrounding him quickly turned to full-blown conversations, and Craig didn’t have to be telepathic to know they were talking about him. This was it for Craig – his career as a motivational speaker was finished. He’d be lucky to ever work a decent-paying job again.
The doors to the auditorium flew open. The two Burger King employees, who were now wearing the plastic ‘King’ crowns the fast-food chain is notorious for, stormed in.
“Oh shit,” Craig said, into the microphone.
“Oh shit is right!” Shouted Buford, before flipping his mullet.
The audience turned around to face the men when they stood at the back. It was not uncommon for motivational speakers to use guest speakers as gimmicks to keep their audience engaged – unfortunately for Craig, this was not part of his act.
“Tell these fools why you better than us!” Said Marlon, who was Asian.
The audience laughed.
“Yeah!” Said Buford. “Tell ’em all about how crappy the BK lounge is these days.”
“Or how you hate black people,” added Marlon.
The audience gasped, then turned to Craig.
“Or!” said Buford. The audience returned their attention to him. “You can tell them the same thing you told us.”
“Yeah!” said Marlon. “Tell ’em Buford!”
“Tell him about how you went out of your way, came over to our place of work, and told us how to do our jobs better!”
“Yeah!” said Marlon.
Buford went on. “Tell ’em how, when I asked if I could take your order, you tried to get me to do my job better. Crappy service! That’s what this man said to me!”
Buford shook his mop at Craig. The audience started laughing. “This guy comes to me, wearing his freshly pressed suit, driving his Mercedez Benz, and tries telling me how I can be more like him!”
The audience cheered Buford on. He broke into a run, then climbed on stage. Marlon followed after him, but tripped and fell his first eight attempts. Buford paced around the stage as he continued. “Just cause I work at Burger King, that don’t mean you can come here and tell me how to do my job! That don’t give you no right to insult my service, say you’re gonna eat somewhere else if I don’t pull it together!’ He pointed at Craig. “But this man did.”
The audience cheered.
“Only rich dude I ever known in my whole life, who feels compelled to come to the BK Lounge, demand I wait on his order, then create a huge mess, just to make sure I would actually clean it up!”
Craig took a good view of the audience – they were grinning, nodding even.
“And it’s because of this man, ladies gentlemen, that I am here today.”
Everybody stood up – a standing ovation!
“Thank you,” said Craig, reaching out to Buford’s shoulder.
“I’m not finished!” he said, then swatted his hand away. “You think I’m finished talking about you, let me tell ya! I’m just getting started. Earlier today, he comes and says…”
For the next five hours, Buford repeatedly rallied the audience to their feet and convinced several of the country’s most powerful figures that even a Burger King drive-thru worker could learn to be as motivated as someone like Craig. After the seminar, all anyone could talk about was how remarkable Craig was for having such a tremendous influence on Buford’s life. Craig left the auditorium hanging his head, however, for he knew as soon as he got home he’d be back to dealing with the foreclosure of his home.
“Craig!” Yelled one of the country’s elite CEOs.
He turned around. “Yes?”
“That was some impact you had on that young man who spoke today!”
Craig scratched his neck, then turn to look at Buford and Marlon as they crossed the street. The men were at least ten years older than Craig. He returned to the CEO. “Thank you, sir.”
“You’re welcome! How would you like to come work for me?”
Craig tried to smile, then walked closer and let out a breath. “To be honest with you sir, I’m dealing with piles of unpaid bills and a soon-to-be auctioned home.”
“Then I assume you’ll take it?”
“I don’t mean to be frank, but unless the starting figure is six figures and starts tomorrow, I’m going to have to busy myself with lawyers and bank meetings for the next few months.”
The CEO looked both ways, then began walking toward a white van and waved for Craig to follow. Craig did, but stayed a few paces back out off caution.
“My company doesn’t believe in the green,” said the CEO, as he unlocked the door to his white van.
“The green? Sorry sir, I don’t follow.”
He opened the door, and outpoured gold coins, diamonds, and jewlery. It was as if the CEO had just driven from robbing a pharoahs tomb in Egypt.
“Dear God!” shouted Craig. “Where did you get all this?” he stopped, checked over his shoulder, then whispered to the CEO again. “I must be staring at a hundred million dollars right now.”
The CEO picked up a gold coin, rubbed it with his fingers, then flipped it over to Craig. “You’ll take the job then?”
“Absolutely!” said Craig.
The CEO smiled again, then reached inside the van. This time he retrieved a robe and crown, both of which he put on to wear.
“I just have one question, if you don’t mind,” said Craig.
“Go ahead, I’m listening.”
“Who… are you?”
“I am,” began the CEO, before grabbing hold of Craig’s shoulder. “The Burger King.”
- Thomas M. Watt