If you walk into the office of Harker Brothers’ Plumbing Supplies you may choose to glance at the six people seated at their desks. Brent Pullman would not strike you as out of the ordinary in any way. Indeed, you could spend a day in the office, in the country, or in your home with Brent and you would find him to be an agreeable, interesting man.
His colleagues, however, thought him odd. Brent was the office manager and earned a good salary but did not follow the established behavioural patterns of a man of his position. He didn’t own a car and he brought his lunch to work. He lived in a small flat in which no bank was a shareholder and he bought his clothes cheaply. He neither drank nor smoked and spent his holidays with friends and relations. He didn’t own a television set and appeared to spend an unhealthy amount of time reading, listening to music and walking in the hills. Yes, Brent, his colleagues thought, was decidedly odd, and what on earth did he do with all that money that he didn’t know how to spend?
One day a colleague left and a fresh one arrived. An inquisitive young soul, his non-conformism radar soon began to blip as it passed over Brent’s desk space and, on making inquiries, he was gladly informed of his manager’s idiosyncrasies. Unsubtle youth that he was, on finding himself alone with Brent one Friday afternoon he inquired into his habits, pastimes, and aspirations as no other co-worker had done these last twenty-four years. They had had to discover the shocking truth about Brent little by little.
Brent smiled at the boy and exhaled slowly. (He practised meditation too, but very few people knew that.)
“Derek, what I am about to tell you now I haven’t told a soul before. There is a reason – a very good reason – for my choice of lifestyle, which my colleagues have no doubt informed you of. I, Brent Pullman, am waging a one man war on capitalism. By not consuming more than the bare minimum required to keep body and soul together, I am doing my bit towards bringing the system to its knees. If everyone did as I do, the capitalist hierarchy would crumble within weeks and a new finer society would emerge. That, Derek, is why I do what I do, and live the way I live.”
“OK, Mr Pullman, see you Monday.”
Derek shook his head as he headed towards his car, on which he only had thirty-one instalments left to pay, and turned his thoughts to the night of drink-fuelled merriment that lay ahead.
On being left alone in the office Brent took off his tie, put his feet up on his desk, and laughed aloud. He marvelled at the coincidence of this youth breaking the office taboo of inquiring directly into one’s personal life on this particular day. What he had said to Derek wasn’t entirely true. Brent had so far enjoyed a healthy life and had acquired a great deal of knowledge. He had also saved a large amount of money and wouldn’t in fact be seeing Derek on Monday or on any other day.
He would be in Costa Rica on Monday and would live there until he decided to move on. He was formed and free, healthy and wise, and didn’t think himself odd at all.