At An Investment Bank, Manhattan, New York, August 2001
'I want 3 copies of the files: One for every delegate & 2 for their P.A.s. The earnings report from the last 50 years have to be included as well. I want them to have a historical view of the factory's performance. Indicate within, achievements & benchmark results throughout the timeline and also their impact on annual revenues. We are among the top dogs of this industry, but I want them to know who they're fucking with. Give me a report on the company's leading status in its market, together with how the region fares competitively with the rest of the continent. Include the edge their location offers by geographically servicing two different continents. I want in-depth governmental policies concerning investments laid out. I want white papers studying infrastructure and regional economics. Add along some job stats. But don't give me that brochure-shit information out there. I want them to feel like they're talking to the minister themselves. This is a major deal we have here that comes around once every never! If we clinch it, we'll playing golf and sipping Pina Coladas for the rest of the year. Make it Apocalypse-proof & I want it yesterday. Roll up your sleeves and do some digging. Now get outta here!' Her team consisting of two women & three males vacate the room, each holding a PDA full of fresh notes. She sits on & reclines into her Nappa-leather armchair, that she rotates as she looks at the Manhattan skyline from the panoramic glass wall of her 52nd floor corner office. 'The odds are working favourably to our position.', she thinks. Leveraging the superior talents & skills of an elite team of young, single go-getters, she orchestrates big moves in the sector & commands respect not only of her peers but also of the Board of Directors. A kick-ass success story, she's the poster-child of capitalism's fusion of commerce and finance. 'We've got what it takes.', she concludes. 'This can really work.'
Times Square, New York, Around Noon, Same Day
The engineer's son talks to his mom on his cell. She's making him go over a mental checklist before the interview.
Son: 'I'm telling you, I got everything, mom!'
Mom: 'Ballpoint pen?'
'Erm... oh right: Travel card?'
'Um... damn, I forgot.'
'You need to get one before the interview. You'll be more confident when you're fully prepared!'
'Oh crap, that means I have to go back half a block to the station again.'
'Whatever it takes, genius.'
* Sigh * 'Alright. Thanks mom. I'll probably reduce my early bird lead to 5 minutes before the start but I'll be fine.'
'Go get 'em!'
'I will. Love you. Bye!' On folding his cell shut while looking across the other side of the street, he accidentally bumps into another guy, roughly his age, wrapped around his girlfriend. His folder drops before her, while the impact retards him back, from the stranger's large build. 'Uhnngh... I'm sorry. Uh, I'm so sorry. I wasn't looking. My bad, really!', he deeply apologizes. The other guy answers, 'Ehy, no problem chico. Are you OK?', while his girlfriend picks up the transparent, plastic folder, through which his resume is visible. She hands it to him as he says, 'Yeah, I'm fine. My mind's somewhere else!', with a lightly-dazed smile. 'Oh, you're applying for a job, no? Don't worry about it, keep a clear mind & you'll do fine!', the young adult assures him while patting his shoulder. 'Go get 'em, papi!' The engineer's son now smiles more assertively and replies, 'Thanks a lot!' The lady grins to him, waving, 'Good luck!' The young man chuckles & waves back, too. The son waves at them, then turns & walks back towards the subway station, slightly embarrassed.
The couple continue strolling through the world-renowned tourist attraction, arm in arm, enjoying the morning. 'He should take a break & chill though. He looked dizzy, you know?', the Brazilian says to his girl. 'Well, when you're built like a rhino & work out like an ox, what do you expect?', she replies. 'Ehy, it wasn't my fault he bumped into me. He didn't watch where he was going, no?' 'Yeah, but if you weren't as wide as a door frame, you could have evaded him. But you can't because you're a civilian wrestler.' 'Hahahaha... you women have expressions. If I'm not athletically built, you don't call me sexy. But someone bumps into me & falls down, you say I'm criminal. You believe in a utopian world, mami!', he answers, gently squeezing her closer to him. She smirks, shoving her hand in his face, and says, 'Oh, shut up! Ideologies are guidance for progressions. But you're so ghetto, you don't even know it!' He completely cracks up, laughing hard. She smiles, as she rubs her hand from his waist into his left, back-pocket and squeezes.
He looks at the massive advert displays around in amazement. 'A single one of these billboards can power a shanti town with electricity. We have to come back tonight, I don't wanna miss this.' He looks at the buildings and glances at the rooftops. Something catches his eye and he suddenly stops. She asks, 'What's wrong, baby?' He looks shocked at the sky. Then he points with his whole arm stretched out, at a large cloud. 'You're not gonna believe this. That cloud up there... you see it? Mami, it's an angel!' He laughs, jumping up & down like a little boy & beaming across his whole face. She looks at it & smiles. 'Papi was right! He said wherever I go, I should look out because angels will be watching me! It's a sign. He's right!' She starts to shake her head, then challenges him, with a hint of sarcasm in her voice, 'Hunny... you don't really believe in that fairy tale, do you? It's mental mass control!' He looks from the angel down to his girlfriend, his smile freezes then fades away, while he slowly lowers his arms. Momentarily, he stares at her hard, not believing what he just heard. 'What?', he mumbles. Pointing to his head, he asks, 'Are you crazy? Something that stays with you all through your life & you call it a fairy tale? Shit! Mami, GOD is no fairy-tale. He watches you 24 hours, OK? When people make fun of God and say he's not real, I laugh, because they never know what hardship and suffering and pain is, you know?'
He raises his voice now, 'They don't know what is like to be robbed every year & live in insecurity! They never seen they friends get shot by gang war stray bullets & die in your arms! They never see so bad living conditions that the children in the neighbourhood die before 10 years! They don't know what is like to fetch water from a well every day, in the morning, afternoon & evening to shower, cook & clean. They are never know what is like to be so poor, no job in everywhere, eat once each day but sometimes no eat, no electricity, sleeping with snake come visit you, selling drugs & do petty crime to earn money or watch people from your neighbourhood die electric shock when try to connect slum city power cable to main grid illegally to watch World Cup! No one complain because nobody care! And then we who are lucky to live through tudo, simply want to express our gratitude, because we know it was a miracle we are still here & then you who never even had a local riot want to tell US who see God every day, in TUDO, that there is no GOD???' He turns & swears heavily in Brazilian-Portuguese, making aggressive & violent gestures with his arms. She steps towards him, 'Baby, I didn't mean...', but he turns back around and yells, 'YOU KNOW WHY YOU & EVERYBODY IN THE PEOPLE MOCK GOD? BECAUSE HIS UNDERSTANDINGS SUPERSEDE OURS! HOW CAN A PRODUCT, A CREATION UNDERSTAND THE MIND OF ITS ENGINEER?'
She now speaks up, shrugging helplessly, 'I'm... Sorry! I Had No Idea I Would Hurt You So Much...' The tears built up in her eyes overflow and stream down her cheeks. Defeated, she sinks her head & begins to silently weep. He looks away, across the street & catches his breath for a moment. He turns to the sky to see whether the angel is still there but the clouds are gone, thinly spread across the rest of the place. He looks back down. He takes a look at her, then jokes calmly in sarcasm, 'Maybe you're right. Maybe it's not always a good sign, maybe sometimes the angels want to warn us, you know?' She wipes her tears away. 'I get it!', she says, 'You've been through Hell & you want everybody to know it!' He feels he's being mocked so he counters, 'You have no idea!' 'Oh, I think I just got one!' She reaches into her handbag and fetches out her Discman. She untangles the wire of the earphones frustratedly, and quickly builds up to tears again. He walks to her and the second she rubs her eyes beginning to cry again, he wraps her in his arms tightly, in a warm embrace. She, cocooned in his protective care, releases the flood gates & unhinderedly cries broken-hearted, as they stay coupled, on the pavement amidst the normality of hundreds of other people around going to work, doing their thing.
Early in the evening across the other side of town, at a local charity that provides free vocational training to youths from low-income families, the engineer gets a phone call. Standing in front of a group of teenagers aged 15-19, numbering about 20, he excuses his bad etiquette humorously, 'You probably get told to turn your cells off in class, but I bet you don't know us old fellas forget to do the same.' They erupt in laughter, even their tutor laughs along. He pulls out his cell from his pocket & takes the call. 'Hello... hey son, how ya doing?... Really? That's great! Well done, boy!... I'm just talking to the team but I'll tell them you said Hi!' Several in the group chuckle. 'OK... love you too,son. Peace!' He drops the call & sticks the phone back into his pocket saying, 'Who says an old man can't be hip?' The youngsters chuckle together. 'OK now guys, I know I've been going on & on about safety in choosing jobs but to sum it all up, what you need to ask yourself is “When you've got a job & you're workin', you're getting paid & you've got an apartment, you've got a car & you're livin' your life – will it all be worth it if you get diagnosed with cancer, you're living off a countdown & you've got a couple a thousands in your savings & maybe a pension... especially if you know the cancer had been prevented, if the company would have taken better safety measures, if you know they coulda spent more money on employee welfare and safer working environments, if you know they Board of Directors could have collaborated more with the unions to protect the employees, would it all still be worth it?” 'Cause if the answer is NO, take it from me, it ain't all that to have an expensive suit or a golden necklace on your anniversary. When you get old, you quickly realize life ain't about material things no more, it's about love and family. I wish you make the best decisions in your life & stay healthy, even if you don't feel like goin' the extra mile. My son who just called says Hi, he just got a job to pay his college tuition. Thank you very much!' The teenagers rise to their feet & give the senior a loud & lively round of applause. He walks to the tutor & firmly shakes her hand. He spends a few minutes going through the group, shaking hands with each of them, They say things like, 'You're an inspiration!', 'You're the strongest man I've ever met!', 'I'm so glad they got a man like you to talk to us, 'cause you look out for us and that's not how we grow up!' He spends a while sharing a few thoughts of wisdom, then leaves the classroom as they both wave good-bye to each other. The tutor walks him out to the door & stands with him at the entrance. 'It's a very noble deed of you & this charity is deeply grateful to you for your help. I, personally, I know how much it means to these kids and you've helped them & boosted their morale a great deal. Thank you very much, sir!' The engineer smiles as they shake hands again and nods in his exit out the building. He zips up his jacket while walking down the steps. He puts both hands into his pockets and walks on the pavement off in the chilling, windy dusk. 30,000 children around the world, under 5 years of age and mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa & South Asia, fade away into the night, never to see the following morning, due to poverty & starvation.