Jamie, as close to disinterested in the manager as possible, replied in a very tired voice, "We are here to advise you that you need to pony up 38.5 million euro to stay in business here. I am ordering this gear and adding consulting services to be shipped in for installation the week after next. Are you interested in having it installed or not?"
Jamie tossed a handwritten list of gear on a piece of paper at him that Frieda had hastily assembled during the walk over to this office. In Jamie’s mind, the desk reflected the disorganization of the user, which made this plan easier. A wobbly desk, a dusty ten-key adding machine with mountains of paper flowing out in ribbons behind it, and a tired looking computer with a smaller screen than the old man’s eyes needed.
After his chuckling subsided, the finance manager focused a puzzled expression at Jamie and asked, "Has the jungle fried your brain? I can't begin to authorize that kind of expenditure! If you really ordered that gear, you’d better find a way to cancel it, or you’re fired! Then, after I fire you, I'll cancel the order and extract the order cancelation fees from your last check.
“What kind of clown are you anyway? No one approved any expenditure of that size. You're lucky I let you order your own printer cartridges and paper!"
Using slow, carefully enunciated speech, he explained, “No, genius, you don't get it! If you don't buy it, I will take it to the competition, and we’ll set it up for their entrance into the market. Haven't you noticed all the free goods that have been circulating around in the area? While you have been squeezing pennies, the competition has been dropping serious folding money to soften the market up for a switch to the greener pastures of your competition. You seriously didn't think you guys would be the only game in town indefinitely, did you?"
Now starting to panic slightly, the finance manager responded, "We simply cannot spend that kind of money! We must fight for market share another way! We intend to stay in Africa, and no one is going to push us out by giving some bars of soap to the natives."
Jamie looked at Frieda straight-faced and snorted. "See, I told you he was dumber than he looked."
He turned his head back to the finance manager and flatly stated, "Oh wow, slow down, lightning! We are not talking about spending our own money! And we are not talking about spending only for this state in Africa. Your competitors are coming in to offer them the expertise if THEY pony up the money. And by THEY, I mean all the surrounding African states as well. You think so small! That’s why you’ll fail."
The finance manager stared blankly, unable to comprehend, until Jamie sighed again and clarified, "WE don't write the checks, they write the checks! We get all the surrounding states to come into the game because we can't operate in a vacuum. We invite them in on the game, and we get them to pony up as well. No one will refuse because no one wants their country left behind. Are you beginning to see, or do we also need to get your glasses checked?"
After a long pause the finance manager replied, "Yes, Mr. Rafferty. I get it. We invest, but we use their monies. You said the gear is coming in two weeks?"
Jamie smiled and asked, "Yes, how do you want it invoiced? My alternate client is standing by, in the event you don't want it. In fact, I’m not quite sure I know what I’m going to tell them if you use your never used #2 pencil to approve the purchase."
The finance manager nodded and agreed, "We'll take it. Make sure your team gets it deployed as soon as possible."
Jamie grinned and remarked, "Actually, it will go quite slowly since we’ll be training the local IT students on its installation and operation. No local politician would dare to cross us, because we would have to lay the students off if we’re ejected from this market. Then they would lose voters. Remember, invest locally and your competitors will struggle to displace you. Am I right?"
The finance manager almost smiled as he responded, "About the time I think you two have outlived your usefulness, you pop up with something to help extend your contract."
Outside the finance manager’s office, Jamie smiled at the bewildered Frieda and queried, “See how easy it is to steer the weak-minded? Of course, it helps when they’re greedy. To make this look more convincing, let’s approach the competition to see if we can get a better deal, though this agreement will keep work moving for months or until we find another job.
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