[The audience claps and stomps its feet in unison to the beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” as it waits for the city’s economic development team to begin their presentation. The_ TEAM MANAGER _steps up to the podium. The audience cheers.]
TEAM MANAGER: Thank you, thank you very much.
[The audience continues to cheer.]
TEAM MANAGER: Wow, what a greeting. I’ve never seen anything like this at a hearing on economic development before. You guys are great.
[The audience screams its approval.]
TEAM MANAGER: As you know, my team was hired to do an evaluation of this city’s long-term economic prospects. We’ve been working on our report for three months. Gerard in the back there is passing out copies of this presentation, and the full report is available for download on the city’s website.
[The audience cheers. Several people begin to crowd surf.]
TEAM MANAGER: Now I think it’s clear to everyone here that the problems that this city faces are obvious. For one thing, leadership is rapidly aging, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone stepping forward to take up the mantle.
[The audience quiets down suddenly.]
TEAM MANAGER: City revenues have been declining for years, and there’s lots of competition from other cities in the region.
[The audience takes out their lighters and holds them up high in the air.]
TEAM MANAGER: So how do we turn things around? Well, the team has determined that the first step is to boost tourism. We feel that there’s a real potential for economic revival through bringing in tourist dollars. This is an undervalued city in terms of entertainment options, and our analysis indicates that there are some simple steps to follow that can make a substantial impact.
[The audience cheers.]
TEAM MANAGER: The first step—and this is something that impacted us personally when we made plans to come here —are the hotel options. There are only three options for visitors. There’s the bed and breakfast fifteen miles down the Atlanta Highway, but let’s face it, people, it’s really just an old shack. It’s a funky old shack, don’t get me wrong, but it’s clearly not suitable for business travel.
[The audience begins to grumble.]
TEAM MANAGER: The hotel on the outside of town is another option. However, when we looked at its website, it said that we could check out any time we wanted but that we could never leave, and that just didn’t seem like an option.
[The audience extinguishes their lighters.]
TEAM MANAGER: And then there’s the place where we wound up staying, which initially seemed nice enough, but frankly it’s turned out to be more than a little depressing, especially given its location at the end of Lonely Street.
[The audience continues to grumble. Several members shake their heads in confusion.]
TEAM MANAGER: We’ve concluded that there’s a significant need for hotel development in the city. Our research indicates that there are two options that make the most sense. There’s this area off Thunder Road where there doesn’t seem to be anything but the burnt-out frames of old muscle cars. We envision putting in streetlights and some chain hotels to start. Add in an Applebee’s and a Kohl’s outlet and you’ve got the makings of a tourist destination.
[The audience boos.]
TEAM MANAGER: Okay, sounds like there’s some opposition to this idea.
[Several audience members approach the podium and scream something at the TEAM MANAGER.]
TEAM MANAGER: Huh? You “won’t get fooled again”? I don’t know what you mean by that. I assure you that’s not our intention.
[The audience stomps its feet in dissent.]
TEAM MANAGER: Please hear me out, people. The second option is to add some hotels into the mixed-use development we have planned for this large strawberry farm that’s taking up some very valuable real estate downtown. If we don’t get enough anchor tenants for the mall, we can always put a hotel there. In some ways, it almost works out better.
[The audience roars its disapproval.]
TEAM MANAGER: What’s wrong with that? It’s just a large field of strawberries that goes on forever. It’s ideal for a new mixed-use development.
[Several audience members scream angrily at the TEAM MANAGER.]
TEAM MANAGER: I’m sorry. What was that? You built this city on what?
[The audience starts throwing the copies of the presentation at the TEAM MANAGER.]
TEAM MANAGER: You’re not serious. I mean, that’s not an adequate foundation for a city. Are you sure?
[The audience roars. Laser pointer dots riddle the TEAM MANAGER’s face.]
TEAM MANAGER: Wow. Whoa. Did any of you on my team know about this? Gerard? Lisa? Did anyone tell you what they built this city on? That would have been good information to tell us at the start. I mean, it does explain some things, like those pink houses, over in that neighborhood where the streets have no name. Also that big long stairway that doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Not to mention that weird requirement at restaurants’ where you have to eat meat before ordering pudding, and that guy over there with the Siamese cat on his shoulder.
[The guy with the Siamese cat gives the TEAM MANAGER the finger]
TEAM MANAGER: So then I’m guessing the Strawberry Fields Mall is off the table.
[The audience mockingly cheers.]
TEAM MANAGER: Okay, people, we get it now. You don’t have to shout. Or twist. Or whatever it is that you’re doing. I get it: You won’t back down. You don’t have to stand at the gates of hell or anything like that. That’s fine. I think I can speak for the team when I say that we R-E-S-P-E-C-T your views on this issue. Can we at least agree to let people drive 55 mph in automobiles other than pink Cadillacs on the Freeway of Love?
[The audience starts to storm out of the room.]
TEAM MANAGER: Well, then, I think we’re done here. [To Gerard and Lisa] Come on, let’s go. And whatever we do, we are not taking an airplane out of here. Just trust me on this one. It’s for the best.