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3 O'Clock High: The People You Meet In Hades


"Did Mr. Disney happen to mention me? Any mention of Hoofy at all?"


Previously on 3 O'Clock High: Mr. Jeffmacke and his wife, Mrs. Jeffmacke ("a Jonathon and Jennifer Hart for the new generation") had used a Minxy Snow White outfit, a Ouji board ("Wee-Gee", not "Oh-High") and their minor psychic powers to hold a séance while in-line for Disney Land's Pirates of the Caribbean.

Their goal? To sit at the knee of purportedly semi-frozen Management Wizard Walter E. Disney, glean his lessons for tyrannical management techniques, then put those lessons to work in a $20 paperback sold at every airport in the world!

So far Walt has taught us:

  • Empires die not because of tyrannical practices, they die for *want* of tyranny.
  • Confuse not "tradition" with "antiquated". Keep your weapons of selling at the bleeding edge of technology

You only need about 5 points for these types of books and they already had two; the book was practically writing itself! It all seemed so simple. Such an easy road to a life of leisure, selling Jeff's book and hitting the corporate lecture circuit with Bill Clinton.... What could possibly go wrong?

If only the Macke's had known then what they know now...

San Francisco, California. 4AM. This Morning.

The phone was ringing in the tired Macke house.

We had unplugged every phone in the house days ago. I had gathered the phones in a sack, run over that sack with my car and thrown the entire entangled mess into the middle of the San Francisco Bay.

When I got home, the disembodied ringing had spread evenly throughout our house. There were no receivers to pick up, obviously. The noise would only stop at the sound of a voice, any voice.

My family gathered around me, glaring balefully but without a sound. It was time to step up and Be the Daddy so the rest of the clan could sleep. Like it or not, I had to talk to Mr. Disney.

I slumped wearily into my office, took a sip of Diet Coke and prepared for the worst. "Hi, Walt. What's on your mind this morning?"

The Continuing Lesson's of Walt

  • Avoid making *any* specific promises to your customers.

"I tell you, Macke, if 'lazy' were pretty I'd stuff you in some diaphanous rags and make you our first bald princess. Time is money and I can't stand watching you people throw it away."

"Walt, I hadn't really planned on you following us home..." I began without any hope of finishing. Mr. Disney was more of a "talker" than a "conversationalist." When he didn't simply ignore me he would resort to making "Whooooooo" ghost-noises and claim that we had a bad connection every time I spoke.

This time he just ignored me. "Did you see Best Buy (BBY) miss? I saw Best Buy miss. Saw it coming from two dimensions away and I've been frozen for 30 years. You wanna know why they missed? Do you? Huh? Of course you do.

"We've got a Geek Squad'" Walt explained in a mocking tone "'we can do your home theater installations'. What a bunch of idiots. I tell you, boy, I used to a run a media company. Maybe you've heard of it... little group called DISNEY [*ghostly chortle]. When I set up my home theater I had 450 workers toiling for 6 months at $3 a day and they still couldn't install my speakers on time. And I was Walt-Freaking-Disney.

"Son, there just ain't nothin' in this world that will tick off a customer faster than making promises you can't keep. You think Best Buy has customer problems now? Wait until January when they have a 4-month back-log on hooking up all the TVs they're selling for no-margin right now.

"Pitchfork wielding mobs will be standing outside every Best Buy in the nation. The Geek Squad is the worst idea in retail since Wal-Mart (WMT) was faking that Made in America thing.

"My parks promise 'Magic' and 'Happy'. People demanding refunds for those are referred to a mental health expert, not our park manager."

  • "Tell the Customers what they want"

"Let me tell you a story, shortpants. It's 1938 and Big Walt is riding high on the success of Snow White. I've got 25 propeller-head analysts and tons of mail in my office, all asking me to make Snow White II. 'We want friendly dwarves and kissing princes, Walt. Give the people more happy workers and sweetie-pixies'.

"What did I give 'em? Bambi, baby. I gave them a sissy little boy deer and then, BAM, shot his mamma cold dead right there in the first reel. You should have *seen* the outtakes on those scenes! We must have shot 500 deer in front of the animators, just so they could capture the impact and death-throes of Bambi's mommy just right.

"And the fire scene at the end? Let's just say that I like to think the origins of LA's smog are rooted in burning fur.

"It was a huge hit. A timeless classic and not one single person had asked me for an animal snuff film.

"People get what they expect from the post office. They get what they expect from a telephone book. If it's something they expect then it's probably something they can get anywhere.

"The Gap (GPS) used to give people what they wanted. Pants and shirts in stock. Then they tried fashion. Then they tried to go back to basics, because that's what people told them they wanted. Now the stores are colder and more boring than the chamber of absolute zero in which my body is stored. They started ripping off their own format, like those second-rate cartoons everyone started making in the 60's to compete with us.

"The Gap was once fresh and original, like Bambi or the Little Mermaid. What the stores look like now is what happens when you stop thinking creatively. You end up with Hercules: 'Tired, overpriced and all the appeal of wet toilet paper'. Speaking of which, that coffee is running right through me... toss me that sports section, I'll see you in a few minutes."

And with that, Walt was gone. We don't know when he'll choose to contact us next. He could appear in our phones, on my ESPN or in a 70-page screed on the process of stealing farmland to create a park named after yourself (don't get Walt started on Donald Trump).

All we know is that he will return. He has fixed his frozen talons into our sides and we will be the plaything for his undead, frozen soul until he grows tired of us. I have sold our life on earth to frozen Walt Disney in exchange for material on an over-priced management book concept to be sold in airports.

My empty car has just started flashing its lights at me. I can hear the muffled voice of the GPS system shouting at me. It's Walt and he doesn't like to be kept waiting...

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