TWO CARD MONTE

November 7th, 2013

Dear Alphonse,

I once worked for a retail establishment. After I’d been there a few months, my boss took me aside and said that if anyone, ANYONE, ever bothered me, just let them know. It would be taken care of. A few weeks after that, one of my coworkers let me know I was working for a ‘company front business’, if you know what I mean. My question is – was I wrong to not give them the name of that one person who really needed a pair of cement overshoes?
Sincerely,
HereThereBeSpiders

Dear HereThereBeSpiders,

This company, they offer a service, no? The friendly reminder your boss gave to you was a nudge in the direction of said services. Now, whether you take him up on that offer or not is solely up to you and your needs. The manner in which he shared said offer most certainly implied that if he were in your shoes (un-cemented, hopefully), he’d be taking up his own offer.

I liken it to a game of pick a hand or two-card monte. Suppose you agree to play and choose the left hand. But, under the left hand is a a guy he knows, some slimy sucker like the one-eyed Jack. Well now you got yourself in a jam and so does he. Now you have to play another round, but this time he picks. He might honor your win and cut ole’ one-eyed out of the deck. This, of course, is not pleasant. You got what you wanted but he’ll carry that loss around, forever asking you to play again because you owe him a chance to win his loss back. Now the other outcome is that he doesn’t like your choice of card, ole’ one-eye is a good buddy he used to play kickball with back in St. Vinnie De Leon’s middle school. Now that’s a bad one because he looks real bad for backing out on his word and you look bad for picking on his friend Jackie boy. I don’t have to say it twice, but the outcome in that one, she ain’t so good.

But then you might choose the right hand. The right hand is just “Deuce” McDiamonds. Ain’t nobody ever bet two wooden nickles on “Deuce”; he’ll hardly be missed. Now you might think you are in the clear. On the one hand, maybe he plays a clean game and once the deal is settled it’s settled and you win. But my guess is that he is going to want to break even so he’ll forever be telling you that you owe him another round.

Then there’s the fifth option of not playing, which you said you did. That one is without direct consequence, but you’ll forever wonder what is under those cards. Hey, just like gambling, I can’t tell you which hand to pick, but I can give you the odds. And by my math, assuming you play, 1 out of 4 gets you a favorable outcome. And that four is a big IF. Nothing is free; he’s gonna want to try to win back his loss. So you can get rid of ole’ Jackie Boy but one day he’s gonna ask you to play Monte again and that fifth option won’t be available anymore.

Capeesh?
Alphonse

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