It was a week ago. A Thursday.
I was in my office going over some plans for a new addition. The weather outside was rainy; I could hear the droplets of water hitting my window pane; the sound of thunder off in the distant. Outside, the sound of wet wheels on wet pavement would pass by my window every few minutes. I was glad I was on the inside…dry.
Of course, “dry” was a relative term; as I picked up the highball glass of liquid and took a long sip.
The monicker is Robison, I’m a PR guy.
I heard a knock at my door and it opened quickly. Two men entered my office. They were in trench coats, soaking wet from the rain, and they wore hats that dripped more water onto my worn office carpet. One of them carried a small satchel or backpack in his left hand.
As they removed their hats and raised their heads, I immediately recognized their faces. They were smiling. Almost laughing. Their eyes were bright and shining. They were Bob and Doug, from Quixtar.
I had helped these two fellows in the past; but back then they were two sad-sacks with dark suits, sunglasses, and not a smile between them.
What could have brought them back to my office with such a transformation?
“Mr. Robison, it is great to see you again,” said Doug.
“Well boys,” I said, “What brings you back to Alabama and my office?”
Bob began, “Well sir, we just wanted to talk to you a few minutes about Alticor’s decision to drop the Quixtar name and go back to using Amway as our global brand.”
“What’s to talk about? I thought it was a done deal. Why do you need to talk to me?” I asked.
The two men looked quizzically at each other. I had seen the look before. It was the “how much should we tell him” glance that they had shared on several occasions while standing in my office previously.
Doug shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and grimaced at Bob.
Doug said to Bob. “We have to tell him…he’s helped before. We have to be open and transparent.”
I interrupted. “Boys, have a seat…relax…would either of you like a drink?”
Bob said, “We’ll sit…nothing to drink for me.”
The men sat down in the chairs in front of my desk; laying their coats across the chair backs and placing their hats in their laps. Bob placed the backpack on the floor beside his chair.
Doug said, “If it’s not too much trouble, I’ll take a drink.” And he smiled again. I have to admit that their smiles were beginning to creep me out.
I rose to serve Doug. “What’ll it be gents? Whiskey? Tequila? Beer?”
Doug laughed embarrassingly. “Do you still have any XS Energy drink?”
I smiled this time, “Yep, Doug, I manage to keep a case or two handy.” And I opened the office fridge to grab him a can. I popped the top and handed it to Doug. He took a sip and I paced about my office. “So? You boys gonna tell me what’s going on or do I have to guess?”
Bob seemed to relax and began. “Well Mr. Robison, as you know in the past few months, Quixtar has opened up its corporate closets, as it were, and we have instituted a total transparent conversation with our IBO, clients, and critics. WE want to change our image and we are doing it quite well…I think.
Now, we have decided that the “Amway” name is a name to be proud of, and we are going to proclaim it loudly across the globe. We WANT people to say, “Is it Amway? and we want to proudly say YES!”
“That’s great, Bob,” I said, “I think I have told you guys that very thing in the past.” I crossed over to my desk and sat on the edge, facing Bob and Doug.
“Yes you have,” said Doug, “Which is why we want to show you something…actually we want you to protect something for us.”
“Protect something?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Bob, “This is one of our prized possessions at Quix…I mean, Alti-…Dang it, it takes some getting used to…this is one of our prized possessions at AMWAY.”
“What is?” I asked.
Bob reached down beside his chair and picked up the backpack. He began explaining, “You see, Mr. Robison, no one but a few people at Amway know this…but there is a reason why, that in over 48 years, Amway has managed to grow, thrive, and survive in the hostile business world.”
“I assumed it was good business sense, leadership and perseverance,” I said.
Doug reacted, “Of Course those are SOME of the reasons, and there are many, many more valid reasons. But, there is something more…something magical about our survival. And THAT is why we are here.”
“Something magical? C’mon guys! It’s me, you’re talking to. Don’t be blowing smoke up my–”
Doug quickly interrupted me. “No, no, no, Dave, we aren’t lying. We are serious. This…thing, is one of the main reasons we are reverting back to our Amway name and OUR roots.”
Bob added, “You might say, Mr. Robison, that this object compelled us to change. Ummmm…demanded that we change.”
“Demanded?” I was incredulous. “You mean, like it spoke to you or something?”
In a sense, yes, it spoke to the sons of DeVos and VanAndel. It reminded them of their responsibility to the object. Their duty to serve and protect it.” Bob said.
Then Doug spoke, “But with all the changes we are making. WE aren’t sure some of the IBO leaders will like it. They may try to mutiny.”
Bob added, “And…and..let me say we are prepared for the fallout. What we are NOT prepared for is that these renegades may, just may, try and take the “power” that IS Amway; and disparage it or worse even, attempt to steal or purchase the “power”.
We have to; we MUST protect the ‘power'”
“Okay, what do you want from me?” I asked again.
Doug lowered his voice to a whisper and looked about my office, “We cannot afford to keep the ‘power’ in Ada, Michigan at our headquarters. It’s far too known, and accessible. WE need to hide it away. To place it somewhere, where it will not be found. We are trusting you to hide it for us.
“Trusting me? I hope you also mean PAYING me!” I wanted to emphasize the “paying” part. “And it won’t be cheap.”
They both spoke in unison. Which STILL annoys me, “We understand!”
Bob then said, “We are prepared to pay you whatever you ask.”
I rose from my desk and paced back and forth a few minutes. The gentlemen waited patiently. I stopped.
“Is this object…this thing…dangerous?”
“No, not at all,” said Doug, “as long as it does not fall in the wrong hands. In fact, you may find great comfort while you possess it. It is after all, the Amway Idol.”
“THE AMWAY IDOL!” I yelled. You have GOT to be kidding me! There’s no such thing as an Amway Idol.
Doug rose from his chair. “Yes there is! It is real. It is powerful.” said Doug. “We shall leave it with you and trust that you will hide it away so that it’s magic will continue to work for not only our company, but for every loyal Quixtar…I mean, Amway distributor in the world.”
Bob placed a check on my desk for my inspection. I looked at it and then choked down a drink from my glass.
“Okay, you have my trust.”
“Do you want to see it?” Bob eagerly asked. He stood up and unzipped the backpack, and gently opened the folds to reveal the object inside. A flash of lightning and the sound of thunder boomed outside, as if on cue.
I peered into the bag, and a smile came to my face. It was probably a smile just as annoying as the grins on Bob’s and Doug’s face. I took the bag from Bob’s hands and zipped it back up.
I placed the bag gently on my desk. Bob and Doug were both standing now, and they put their trench coats on and placed their hats back atop their heads.
“We’ll be leaving now,” said Bob.
And they removed the familiar sunglasses from their shirt pockets.
“We were never here.” said Doug.
“Right.” I agreed.
“Good day, Mr. Robison,” said Bob.
And they both walked out my door.
I sat down behind my desk and grabbed the backpack. I held it tightly to my chest for a moment, and then unzipped the bag. I gazed back down into the backpack staring at what the boys had called the “Amway Idol”. I touched the object.
I grabbed it, and removed it from the bag.
At that exact moment, my partner Skyler entered the room.
Startled, I clutched the object close to my chest, covering it momentarily with the empty backpack.
Skyler laughed at my scare, “Whatcha got there, Dave? New porn?”
“No, Skyler, not porn. Something much more valuable”
I placed the object on my desk. It was white. With blue and white lettering. A date was etched into it. 1961, it read. And the lettering was simple, elegant…and yes powerful. I found myself smiling…again. The “idol” said simply…
Skyler said, “So, what the hell is it?”
I picked the bottle up. Turned it in my hands; reading the words on the container.
“Well, Skyler…it’s…it’s…it’s the stuff dreams are made of”.