Long, long ago, the Chief Technical Officer became the apprentice of an older Chief Technical Officer whom he later had canned, and whose title he promptly adopted. Because of this, the current CTO’s high esteem for mentorship was only matched by his mortal fear of being outfoxed by the apprentice he took. So he finally decided to take one who was as dense and foolhardy as a Morgan Stanley bond broker, and who also had no real college education − that is to say, a Duke grad.
After a time the CTO came to be deeply proud of his apprentice, who had the capacity to talk to Executives about basketball for hours, and the CTO sought the best for him − just short of his own job − so he strove to find him the one thing he was missing: a wife. The CTO, being a good mentor, hired photographers to go to every corporation with the purpose of furtively capturing headshots of the prettiest corporate employees in the tri-state area. Two weeks later a photographer sent a picture of an HR associate at a middling start-up firm in Jersey City. She was a woman of exceptional beauty, and the apprentice was smitten.
“That’s her!” cried the apprentice. “That’s the girl I’m going to marry!”
So with the CTO’s blessings, the apprentice set off for Jersey City. The HR associate was balancing a great stack of employee medical records when the apprentice ran up to her and scissor kicked them out of her hands. They exploded in a white plume. “I’m marrying you,” said the apprentice, “and you’ll be damn well off.” Taking her by the hand he said, “Let’s go see your Supervisor.” The girl burst into tears.
The Supervisor told the apprentice not to play around. “She’s an upstanding employee at this middling start-up,” the Supervisor said, “and doesn’t need tricks played on her by men without noble intention.”
“Damn it,” said the apprentice, “my intentions are solid.”
And sure enough, they were. He married her soon after, and she moved into his Midtown condo, and everyone at the corporation was tremendously happy, not least being the CTO, who threw him a bachelor party at the classiest strip club in Times Square.
Then the CTO got his apprentice’s new wife a job at the corporation. She became an HR senior assistant, and answered to the Head of Human Resources, who happened to be secretly having an affair with the CTO.
A few months later, in a downtown hotel, the CTO asked the Head of HR how his apprentice’s wife was getting on.
“She’s an excellent worker,” said the Head of HR. “Truly a sharp and cunning woman.”
The CTO grew nervous. He knew that he could keep his apprentice from taking his job, but if his wife was so cunning, she may find a way to topple him − especially if she found out about his affair with her boss. He told the Head of HR this. She understood and grew nervous, too. So they crafted a plan to get rid of the apprentice’s wife.
First the CTO sent his apprentice on a long tour of regional offices in the South. While on tour, the Head of HR invented anonymous reports of a third-base make-out session between the apprentice’s wife and a junior associate in the tchotchke closet at a quarter-end office party. The rumor of this was spread and the CTO called the apprentice to ask what he’d like done.
The apprentice was in shock. “Do whatever you think is best,” said the apprentice.
So the CTO and the Head of HR sat down with the apprentice’s wife and explained the generous severance packages that the company might afford her. The apprentice’s wife was aghast, but took the package and went home, vowing revenge on the two that set up her dismissal. Unable to convince her husband of his mentor’s treachery, she fled under cover of darkness to Business School.
In two short years she graduated, shaved her hair, and reapplied to the same corporation under a man’s name. She got the job and was placed in Sales. There she ran into four Salesmen.
“Who goes there?” asked the Salesmen.
“The greatest thief who ever lived,” replied the wife.
“But who are you?” they asked.
“A graduate from the Wharton School.”
“Oh, we’ve heard of Wharton, we know your cunning.” And they took her to their sales desks. Other Salesmen joined them, a full twenty, and learning that the wife came from Wharton, so illustrious, that they eventually, after a few years, decided to make her their leader. She became the Head of Sales.
“Now whatever I say,” she told the assembled Salespeople, “goes.” And the Salespeople cheered.
Then she led them to make a great profit by selling electronic software at a high margin to companies that probably could have done just as well without it, and she exceeded everyone’s highest expectations. The Board of Directors and the stockholders were exceedingly impressed, and the CEO invited the Head of Sales to a party at a five-star hotel with all the top employees of the firm − including the Head of HR and the CTO and the CTO’s apprentice.
Now the CTO’s apprentice, since losing his wife, had become less boyishly optimistic. He now stood muted at parties where he was once entertained Executives by enthusiastically scissor kicking trays of hors d’oeuvres out from caterers’ hands. Without the creative capacity to develop original thoughts, the only outlet for his misery was in drinking − which he did heavily. Late into the party, the Head of Sales found her husband off in a corner of the room, holding melancholy conversation with an ornamental palm. So she sidled up to him and whispered her true identity. He blinked and asked her to prove it, and she told him about that thing she did with a scuba mask, an overripe guava and a lacrosse stick on the first night of their honeymoon in Aruba, and in this way he knew it was her, and he was shocked. He asked her where she’d been and she told him of her adventures and struggles, and he was so drunk he wet himself.
After helping him clean himself off, she relayed what she’d suspected for the past few years: that the CTO and the Head of HR must have been carrying on an affair, and conspired together to force her from the firm.
In response to this, the CTO’s apprentice promptly passed out face down on the floor of the bathroom.
While dragging her husband from the bathroom and down the empty hallway to the elevator well of the hotel, she heard muffled sounds coming from inside the coat closet. Readying her cell phone camera, she opened the closet doors in time to witness a third-base make-out session in progress between the CTO and the Head of HR. Several compromising photos later, the CTO and Head of HR asked the Head of Sales what she wanted in return for her silence. The Head of Sales revealed her true identity and demanded an admittance of their conspiracy, which they gave.
“And now,” she said, “it’s your turn to resign as CTO and put my husband in place as your successor.”
The CTO, a loving family man with a wife and children and no legally binding prenuptial agreement, had no recourse but to accept her demand.
So the very next day, with help from the Head of HR, the CTO tendered his resignation and the CTO’s apprentice was promoted to CTO, and was reunited with his clever wife. All the employees of the corporation cheered.
But given that his wife had successfully fooled everyone in the corporation into believing she was a dude, some employees started giving the CTO awkward second glances. And so he became insufferably insecure in his post, and started drinking at work, and disappointed his wife by only watching football and network sitcoms at home in their Midtown condo.
So the Head of Sales divorced the CTO and then ran into the same junior associate she’d been rumored to have had made out with in the tchotchke closet. He’d quit his insufferable job to start a punk band called “Hagfish Overdrive,” a career choice that she found endearingly profitless. They dated and discovered that they shared a mutual dislike for John Updike and married and went on to have two unpromising children, but still lived happily ever after.