As sequestered from reality as one could be, buried deep within the lower bounds of the plutocratic percentile, Wellborn couldn’t understand why those outside his gilded cage were so heartless towards his feelings.
“Don’t you little people see that I’m a superior person? Why won’t you kiss my ring?”
His narcissism aside, it was difficult not to feel a measure of pity towards this self-anointed master of the universe.
“To be blunt, people don’t like to be treated like they’re inferior, as if they’re obligated to worship those with more wealth. It’s undignified.”
But it just didn’t sink in. Wellborn had worked his way up the corporate ladder, first as a small town banker, all the way to the inner sanctum of the Wall Street elite. From his euphoric perspective, he lived at the centre of the universe, his sense of gravity and entitlement so profound, he believed everyone and everything should orbit his ego.
“Undignified? I am the essence of higher culture. I am up here, and you and the multitudes like you are down there. I am what humanity was meant to be.”
“With respect, I’m not the one dolled up in a gold sequined dress with the label ‘neophyte’ across my chest singing an ABBA parody ‘I am the Bailout King…’.”
Wellborn pulled back as if someone had dowsed him with a bucket of cold water. Silent and shivering, his mind grasped for words. His indignation was obvious, but below the surface something else was emerging, something that could only be described as fear.
“You’re not a waiter. You’re that reporter, aren’t you?”
Instantly, it was like watching a superhero lose all his powers.
“Mr. Wellborn, you’re turning blue.”
“I’m sure you’re mistaken…” his voice trailing into nothingness.
Like all other problems he encountered, Wellborn reflexively turned to the only solution his self-centred mind could comprehend.
“Can’t we work something out? Please understand, you just can’t imagine the embarrassment this would cause me and my colleagues if people found out what goes on behind these closed doors.”
“Well, I can hazard a guess.”
“Listen, we can get you anything you want. We can give you unlimited funding, whatever, anything for your career. Just don’t reveal any of this.”
“Look I’m sorry I just can’t help you. Believe it or not, some people just can’t be bought. Integrity does exist you know.”
Feeling ill, Wellborn wandered into the nearest washroom for a splash of cold water. Mopping his brow, he couldn’t help coming face to face with an unexpected stranger: the person he used to be. There was no hiding in that brightly lit room, and staring back at him in the mirror was not the infallible king of Wall Street, but an alien, an alien dolled up in a gold sequined dress with the label ‘neophyte’ across its chest. And in that moment the small town banker, who once vowed to never leave his cosy backwater, laughed out loud.
“Dignity, yeah right.”