"The Port of No Hope" by Irish Dick, December 2012
Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.
AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.
Summary: What is a vision? It's not as mystical or out there as it sounds. A vision, quite simply, is a picture of what success will be at a particular time in the future. A mission statement, on the other hand, is a brief description of a company's fundamental purpose. It answers the question, "Why do we exist?"
The Port of No Hope
It was the longest day of the year in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The sun was at its pinnacle of warmth and light. Throngs of people were milling around the parking lot, amazed and excited at the abundance of locally produced goods, ranging from several gorgeous varieties of tomatoes to handmade soap and artisan crafts, to herbs and plants.
"A great vision is inspiring. It gets you and everyone in the organization excited to come to work." Marty Calgan closed the back of his car, smiling amply at Susan Ward, his coworker. "It is the 'cathedral' that everyone is coming to work every day to … construct." He tilted his head sideways, looking at Susan's squinting due to the sun. She even placed a hand over her eyes but the sun was still very bright. "This is not mere 'wishful thinking', you know." Marty was leaning against his outstretched arm that he placed just above the driver's seat area on the car's roof. "A vision must also be strategically sound. You have to have a reasonable shot at getting there."
"Shot?" Susan giggled a bit, noticing that Marty had freckles on his face.
"That's right. An aim. Clear road ahead?"
Susan watched him some more as if wishing to ask him something and then sighed, thanking him. Marty nodded and entered his car, driving away.
That evening Susan had some guests at her house. Her husband, Peter, was talking with some of her colleagues.
"Quite a few companies that exist today began life as something other than a product or Intermet software company."
"Yes." Michael Lingams smiled. "I guess I am of those few whose company began as a large 'brick-and-mortar' retailer …"
"But … it also includes an airline, or a financial services company as well …" Peter tried to alleviate some more pain.
"So …" Michael sighed, noticing that his wife was becoming older and uglier every day. "Why is product software so different than say … IT software?"
"Well …" Peter sipped more beer and then placed the glass down on a small table. "There are several reasons in fact …" Michael adjusted himself better and watched Peter as he commenced. "You pay your employees to work at your company and use the software you tell them they need to use." He thanked Susan for offering him more grated cheese. "In contrast …", Peter thanked her again and lifted his head to notice some warning signs on her face. She avoided his look and he monitored her ass she walked away. "You see … in product software, every user makes his own purchase decision …" Peter chewed on a piece of cheese, wondering whether there was something wrong with the cheese itself. "… If they don't want it, they won't use it."
Michael grinned broadly and sipped more beer.
"Further …", Peter apologized for talking with his mouth full, "… with your own employees you can get away with requiring training courses, reading manuals, and specialized professional services. "He lifted his hand up, drinking beer and making some apologizing eye gestures, making Michael smile even more. "In contrast …", he wiped his mouth with a paper napkin, making a ball of it, "… in product software, if users can't figure out how to use your software they are a click away from your competitor."
"Now that's true … yes …" Michael agreed, feeling ever more depressed as the future seemed bleak for his company.
"For IT software …", Peter made some movements with a tongue, chasing those remaining pieces, grating them slowly with his front teeth, "… you measure scale and simultaneous usage in the hundreds of users." Peter gesticulated with hands as well, getting excited and proud that he was part of such a promising area of the industry. "In contrast …", he used a finger to fetch a piece that got stuck behind his back teeth, apologizing, "… with product software …", that tiny bit just did not want to give up, "… it's in the hundreds of thousands or often millions of users." He widened his eyes after wiping fingers into the napkin. "For IT software, if there is an issue with the software, they are your employees and they are forced to deal with it." Peter drank more beer, noticing a good looking wife present in his house. "For product software …", he burped, placing a bent index finger over his mouth and lowering his jaw, "… an issue such as an outage disrupts revenue and immediately gets the attention of the CEO and often the press."
"Yes … true …" Michael felt even more useless, noticing how Susan looked vital and healthy.
"The truth is that most product software has a much higher bar in terms of the definition, design, implementation, testing, deployment and support than is necessary than most IT software. It's also true that salaries usually reflect this."
"Probably … I can imagine …" Michael hated himself for not taking that production IT courses "on time".
"But …" Peter burped silently again, apologizing. He noticed that Ms Stevenson had a large piece of ass. "Finding people with the necessary product software experience is much harder than finding IT experience."
They kept quiet for a while, Michael admiring his success, looking around well kept and clean house.
"Pardon me for asking, but … what exactly does your company do?"
"It produces clandestine weaponry for the Nazi hunters around the globe."
Michael was suddenly speechless and frozen, staring blankly back at his host in disbelief.
Peter suddenly burst into laughter, placing a hand on Michel's arm in some feminine manner.
"I am just kidding, of course!" His eyes flashed as he smiled.
Peter watched Michael as he took the glass of beer and drank some more.
"Nazi hunting? …" Michael remembered how they used to molest and even beat some Jews in their school after the classes were over. "Is that … Simon the Wizard perhaps?"
"Yes … that's right." Peter missed Susan's cheese and wished her back around. Michael felt comfortable and then winked back to Peter.
"Tell me something though … how he started his organization though?"
"Well … you see …" Some tall, blond man with grey hair was grinning to Susan, admiring framed photographs of their children on the wall. "After a period of close cooperation with the United States Army in the years 1945 and 1946, Simon the Wizard had to acknowledge that interest in denazification on the part of the allied occupying forces was generally dwindling."
"Denazification?" Michael repeated, remembering how ugly those poor Jews looked after being hurt.
"Yes. He therefore terminated his work for the U.S. Army's Counter-Intelligence Corps, and …" Susan finally straddled by and Peter managed to snatch a piece of cheese from her tray, making her smile like a tired street vendor, "… in 1947 he opened the Jrewish Historical Documentation Center in Linz, in order to continue his search for Nazi perpetrators." He paused, checking his teeth with a tongue. Ms. Stevenson's ass was so big that she could barely sit on their "guest" chairs. That excess fat of hers was simply "overflowing" … "Together with thirty volunteers …", Peter chewed on yellow cheese, enjoying its taste, "… he collected witness testimonies … at first in the form of simple questionnaires passed out in the DP camps …"
"DP camps?" Michael finished with his beer and Peter waved to Susan to bring more cans around.
"Yes. It stands for 'displaced persons' camps …" Susan brought them fast enough and he lifted his head up to receive a light kiss on the mouth from her. "… And …", Peter noticed that Michael grinned in secret, "… in cooperation with international documentation centers, … police and court authorities …", someone started to honk incessantly outside and most of his guests turned towards the source of the noise. It was some anxious driver, not wishing to wait for the unloading of furniture. "Evaluated information about suspected individuals."
"Suspected individuals?" Michael repeated.
"That's right." Peter opened another beer can and poured in both of their glasses.
"Numerous files and index card catalogues on Nazi criminals and crime complexes were compiled."
"Oh, yes, indeed … wow!"
They chuckled a bit.
"The Documentation Center was housed in a tiny office, always suffered from a shortage of funds, and depended on the work of numerous unpaid volunteers."
"Volunteers?" Michael acknowledged slowly as the tall blond man burst into a loud laughter, getting red in his face as if chortling. Peter narrowed his eyes, wondering what role he played in Susan's organization.
"Modest office operations were kept up solely through small donations and the use of private funds from the Wizard's journalistic activities."
"Journalistic activities …" Michael repeated, stressing the word as if it was something to do with spying.
Peter made no additional comments and kept staring at the only Jew present. It was Uri Weinzweig – man that told him that the city of "Ann Arbor" used to be called "Hanna's Harbor" once. Then the French colonists settled in and that "h" simply "disappeared" … forever!