Life coaching: If I were president

"If I were president of the US, law abiding citizens wouldn't be hauled off by power hungry FBI agents," Peter said.

ben goldfarb 88 (photo credit: )
ben goldfarb 88
(photo credit: )
Every weekday at 11:00 A.M, Monday through Friday, three retired professionals used to meet at the same café in Manhattan. They passed their time complaining about the government, society, and the inefficiency of the post office. After they ran out of things to critique, they paid their bill, left a hefty tip, and went home to their wives, who had some complaints of their own. But thanks to the FBI, today was going to follow a different pattern. Peter Hart was the ringleader of the malcontents. After the preliminary discussions about which prescription drugs they were taking, which of their friends had died or was playing dead, Peter would chime in with his favorite line, "If I were President of this country, things would be a hell of a lot different." The other gentlemen, ex-patriots of England and Israel, took their cue and swore that if they were the Prime Minister of England and Israel, respectively, the entire free world would have a different look and feel. Just as Peter was talking about the soaring price of crude oil and how he could make the US less dependent upon fossil fuels, three men in black approached their table. "Are you Peter Hart?" one of the men said. "Yeah, what's it to you?" Peter answered. "Please come with us. The three of you are under arrest," the man continued. "For what? Over-tipping?" Peter said and started laughing. The FBI agents retained their stoic expression. They displayed their FBI badges and one of them began reciting the Miranda rights. "Spare yourselves the right to remain silent garbage. I'm a retired lawyer. You've got nothing on the three of us and if you leave now, I won't sue your boss," Peter threatened. "The sooner you cooperate, the sooner you will get back home," the taller of the men said like an annoyed camp counselor. "And if we refuse?" Peter asked. "You will be resisting arrest, and things will get a little sticky," he said. "You and your friends can leave the café with or without handcuffs. We'll have you back home in a few hours." "If I were president of the US, law abiding citizens wouldn't be hauled off by power hungry FBI agents," Peter said. The cantankerous trio cooperated reluctantly and left the café amidst the stares of customers and waitresses. They were escorted into a waiting SUV, and drove for a few moments. Before they got out of the vehicle, they were blindfolded. When their blindfolds were removed, they were sitting in a movie theater. "I'm going to win this lawsuit. You guys don't stand a chance. I've got years of experience fighting the big guys," Peter said. The assistant director of the FBI walked out on stage. "Sorry for the inconvenience, gentlemen. You've been chosen to take part in a simulation," he said. "Chosen without our permission," Peter said. "It's all legal. The FBI has lawyers too, you know," the assistant director said. "So what's this all about?" Tom, the British ex-patriot said, uttering his first words since the ordeal began. "Using our sophisticated computers, we are simulating a world in which Peter is the President of the United States, Tom is the Prime Minister of England, and Uri is the PM of Israel," he continued. "We made a list of your strengths and weaknesses and compared them to the current men in power. We then extrapolated what kind of world we would have if the three of you were in charge," the assistant director said. "Don't you have better things to do with the taxpayers' money? " Uri, the expatriate Israeli asked. "We see this as a worthwhile investment," he continued, "Anyway, we selected various factors to judge your success in your respective offices: Economic benchmarks such as cost of living and inflation rate, statistics on violent crime, and the number of terrorist incidents. Let's take a look," he said and the lights dimmed. Three films played one after the other, with various economic, social, and postal statistics flashing on the screen. The men witnessed press conferences with each one of them behind the microphone, spewing out powerful rhetoric. While their new world order had increased rights for the elderly, government subsidies for high fiber foods, and increased efficiency at the post office, the world still looked and felt the same. "What exactly is the point of this virtual nonsense?" Peter asked. "We just ran the film. The interpretation is up to you. Thanks for your time. We will take you back home now," the assistant director said, and he walked off the stage. The three men hibernated for a few days. They didn't make their 11 o'clock meeting at the café for a full week. After some intense sulking, Peter made a few calls and the dynamic trio was up and running again. Peter reasoned that history was a complex interplay of Destiny and human effort. Their toil seemed to be a condition, a pre-requisite as it were, as opposed to an actual catalyst for change. Even though the three of them couldn't change the world as heads of state, they were convinced they could make a positive impact on their corner of the universe. The next week, the group met at the cafe, but for Sunday brunch and with their wives. On Monday and Thursdays, the three volunteered at a soup kitchen to help put real food in real hungry stomachs. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, each man went to a different inner-city high school to volunteer for a mentoring program. Fridays were designated for some self-indulgence involving poker games, cigars, and bowling. The three men had learned a great deal from their FBI experience. Their complaining quotient decreased and their well being increased even if their letters still arrived late. Ben Goldfarb was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He moved to Israel in 1988. He is the founder and director of Paradigm Shift Communications. He has given seminars and training sessions at Israel Aircraft Industry and Philips Medical Systems. His book, "Double Feature: A Nostalgic Peek into the Future" will be published next year. He lives with his wife and children in Jerusalem. For more information about his coaching practice, visit the Paradigm Shift Communications website, or send an email to [email protected] © Copyright 2008 by Ben Goldfarb