Mamie the Plow-Horse

Ernest P. Blufous VI

The following is the actual script – including stage direction in parentheses and italics – of a speech written for Ernest P. Blufous VI, President and CEO of Blufous International, manufacturers of agricultural equipment and direct marketers of aluminum siding, vacation rentals and burial insurance.

The speech was given at a banquet honoring the finalists for the company’s coveted “Mamie the Plow-Horse Award”. The award recognizes Blufous’ top telemarketers, as measured in dials-per-minute, time-per-call, close ratio and winning attitude.

(Enter stage right, acknowledge ovation and encourage people to sit. Hold hand to heart
and look truly humbled, in that way Celine Dion, Taylor Swift and Al Gore have mastered.)

Thank you. I am truly humbled.

(Pause until applause dies)

From our elevated table on the dais - as I and the rest of the executive board look out over this room at a sea of nameless telemarketers who dedicate themselves to our company’s success - we have but one thought: There, but for the grace of God go I, but screw ‘em and uncork the champagne!

(Pause for laughter)

Just kidding, of course.

The truth is, none of us up here could spend a single day as a telemarketer, being summarily disregarded and instantly - viscerally - despised by nearly everyone we talk to. The unending rejection each of you swallow each day would cripple most of us “thinkers”, whose minds regularly drift to abstractions - things like opportunities, interests and dreams.

(Be sure to do the air-quote thing with your hands when you say “thinkers” and “doers”)

“Thinkers” have always lacked one thing you “doers” seem to have been born with – the bull-head chromosome.

(Be sure to use the word, “ain’t” in the following sentence, as it demonstrates
a connection to your great-great grandfather’s modest roots)

Trust me on this: sometimes the nuances of life ain’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Heads-down resignation is what it takes in telemarketing; that and a Helen Keller-like faith that every “no” gets you that much closer to a “yes”. Think about it, Helen Keller managed to gyrate and grunt herself through a pretty successful life, didn’t she? But you can bet she ran into her share of walls.

You run into walls as well, but you do it with a blind-faith that eventually drives you to a “yes”.

(Thrust a clenched fist in the air and raise your voice)

What you do is essentially a numbers game, but it’s important, and don’t you forget it!

(Pause for applause)

It occurred to me years ago that an apt role-model for all telemarketers is the common plow-horse.

(Pause for effect)

That brute lugs that plow day-after-day, row-after-row until the job gets done. It doesn’t need to be nimble of body or mind, nor does it crave recognition. No, the plow-horse just keeps pulling that weight forward. Instinctively it knows to want no more from life.

So I ask you to aspire to be the best plow-horse you can be. Reach for the yoke and embrace the blinders. There is a fertile field out there for the sowing. It is time to start pulling until we up here on this dais tell you to stop!

(Pause for applause)

With that, it’s time to announce this year’s winners of the “Mamie the Plow-Horse” award, named after my great-great grandfather’s first and most dependable plow-horse.

Mamie, like you, was a beast of burden, but she was also an unflaggingly loyal partner in a little start-up enterprise that has become Blufous International - the $60 billion conglomerate you pull the plow for today!

(Pause for applause)

All Mamie ever required in return was the food it took to fuel her next day’s labor. That, my friends, is a team player.

There’s a reason why we keep Mamie’s pickled heart in the jar right over the entrance to the telemarketing boiler-room. It is a reminder that the heart is the only muscle we ask you to exhaust in the service of Blufous. Well, that and your soul.

That reminds me of a true story – a funny, funny story.

Our Board of Directors wanted to somehow put Mamie’s soul in a jar and put it up there next to her heart. Well, here’s the problem: as everyone knows, souls don’t really exist. So we actually had the guys over in engineering fabricate some plastic models of a soul based on some sketches my wife and I did. Suffice it to say she and I had differing opinions of what a soul should look like.

You could tell my wife watches too much Oprah. Her souls were wispy, cotton candy, powder-puff- looking things, while my design looked more like a cast-iron gear or one of those metal lunchboxes the factory workers carry their bologna sandwiches in.

You know the rest – Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus after all – we scrapped the whole idea for the good of the marriage. I kept thinking, ‘no way I’m splitting my $132,366,479.37 net-worth 50/50 over a freaking soul’.

(Pause for laughter)

Of course, just as a body needs a heart as its engine, it needs a brain for navigation; otherwise, all you have is a bunch of pointless motion, right? Seriously, think about what you people do on your days off and tell me I’m not right!

(Pause for laughter)

That’s why we keep my Great-Great Grandfather’s pickled brain in a jar in the Executive Dining Room. It reminds us that we, as your leaders, need to use our brains in order to honor your physical toil by ensuring that it serves some purpose. We in management have worked hard to script your every word and motion to the service of a larger cause, though you may never understand what that cause is…and we can hardly expect you to.

I’d like to read now from the plaque each “Mamie The Plowhorse” award winner will receive:

“For his/her docile-minded devotion to Blufous, unflagging willingness to forfeit his/her individuality to the greater company policy, and his/her whole-hearted embrace of telesales and telenurturing, this person embodies the spirit of “Mamie The Plowhorse.”

Since you all can’t see the plaque, I’ll describe it to you. There’s an engraved line-drawing of Mamie, head-down as always, pulling a plow through knee-deep mud. And on the plow stands my great-great grandfather looking off into the distance in a meaningful way.

What he sees in that distance we can only speculate. But I imagine he sees Blufous International as we are now and as we will be in the decades to come. He sees the Blufous family holdings expanding and our influence in business, politics and the arts growing deeper and wider. He sees legions of workers – past, present and future – muscling under our guidance, always pulling forward. He sees, as I see, a little bit of Mamie the Plowhorse in each of the team-players we recognize today.

(Pause for effect)

And now, the winners…

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