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Welcome, everyone. Our CEO, Mr. Pennshaw, is not here to make today’s morning announcements. If he were here, the announcements would start out differently, since my first announcement is that Mr. Pennshaw is not here.

Also, while Mr. Pennshaw is out, no one is to go into his office or look at his files. There is no particular reason for this. Nothing is wrong. Mr. Pennshaw would be here himself to tell you nothing is wrong, but he is very busy buying groceries. Depending how things go with the Securities and Exchange Commission, he may be buying groceries for seven to 14 years.

In any case, the governing board of GlobCorp is taking this opportunity to say we will hold a surprise birthday party for Mr. Pennshaw. Attendance is mandatory.

My name is Mr. Roth. Many of you do not know me because, strictly speaking, my job has no assigned functions. But I rarely concern myself with matters outside this company. I did once try to concern myself with matters outside this company. But the individual with whom I concerned myself concluded she had no feelings in particular about me. So I am now dedicated to this surprise party – or, as we are calling it on our planning graph, the surprise party project.

Employees must adhere to the following ground rules during Mr. Pennshaw’s party:

1. Like any other employee, Mr. Pennshaw will receive a standard-issue cake with brown icing on top, neutral beige icing in the middle and corporate-issue gray ice cream.

2. We will sing one round of “Happy Birthday to You” as it was written and copyrighted. We will not add the tag “How old are you,” and we will not eat the cake, as the planning committee designed it around our corporate image, and neglected to specify that it be edible.

3. No one is to mention Mr. Pennshaw’s son Tom. However, if Mr. Pennshaw calls you Tom, the only acceptable answer is “Yes, Dad.”

4. The subject of Mr. Pennshaw’s divorce may be avoided if every employee takes care act as if marriage does not exist for most people.

5. No one is to ask Mr. Pennshaw whether he ever missed telling someone he loved them and, once it was too late, he suffered such despair that he had to go on leave. This question has been asked and answered.

6. Any gifts for Mr. Pennshaw must come from the following selection:

  •  Coffee mugs bearing the inscription “World’s greatest CEO.”
  • Gift subscriptions for magazines that Mr. Pennshaw already receives.
  • A humorously outlandish necktie that makes Mr. Pennshaw smile in that way that makes us wish he wouldn’t smile at all.
  • A “friend” or “escort.”

That is all.

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