As I See It / GE to Fairfield: Don’t cry, it’s just business
Published 5:43 am, Friday, January 29, 2016
“GE” sits nervously at a corner table at the Las Vetas Lounge. “Fairfield” enters, marches up to the table, and sits down.
GE: I got you coffee and a muffin …
Fairfield: You know what you can do with them. GE, seriously? After 40 years, you’re dumping me for Boston? Did I have to find out from the Boston Globe? Just text me next time, save your strength.
GE: Sorry, I …
Fairfield: Sure. So, you’ve been sneaking off to Boston for the past few months, and now you’re moving in. And you’ve been thinking about this on the sly for three years! I deserve more respect than that after all we’ve been through. We could have worked this out!
GE: Get a grip, Fairfield, you’re going to make yourself sick. I hate to see you this way. Honest, it’s not you, it’s me. Here, breathe into this paper bag. Look, I’m … trying to find myself. You mean a lot to me, but I have to move on. I love Boston now. It’s got the business ecosystem alignment I need to grow.
Fairfield (crumpling up the paper bag): “Business ecosystem alignment?” Did you get that from a New Age magazine or a chiropractor? What am I, chopped liver? You used to be so turned on by my beaches, special neighborhoods and our cute little train station. C’mon, let’s go see them …
GE: I’ve been here 40 years. Been there, done that. Anyway, I’m trying to tell you that ...
Fairfield: Now I get it — you don’t feel appreciated! How about if we throw you a rally? You know, with a high school marching band! A float that looks like a GE jet engine!
GE: That would be touching, but …
Fairfield: Dammit, I’ll paint the town blue for you!
GE: Where did you get that idea? Besides which …
Fairfield: You’re mad at the state for hiking your taxes, aren’t you? Aren’t there years you don’t pay taxes at all?
GE: Well, yes, but it still hurt my feelings.
Fairfield: And what kind of deal did you get from that homewrecker up I-95?
GE: $145 million.
Fairfield: So you have your price! I hope you’re happy!
GE (leaning forward sternly): I’m gonna be straight with you. The state tax thing hacked me off, and I won’t turn down Boston’s money if they’re offering — heck, I didn’t even want it! But that’s chump change to a $150 billion corporation. You and your Hartford friends should stop gnashing your teeth about how I was spooked by your shaky state finances and “toxic business climate.” You’re worse than a lot of states, but no worse than Massachusetts. If that was my worry, I’d be moving to North Dakota. What I’ll pay for Boston Harbor real estate is obscene. And what am I going to do with my Yankee tickets?
Fairfield: So then, does my love for you mean nothing?
GE: Puh-leeze. Your love comes with a price, like the annual $1.8 million in taxes, and the millions we give to charities around the state. Not all of our 800 employees live in Fairfield, you know, and many of those will likely stay put if they’re reassigned to other GE facilities in Fairfield County. You’ll be fine.
Fairfield: That is so cold!
GE: No, it’s business. Yours, and ours. You have a budget to balance and services to provide. As for me, I have to change for the 21st Century. I’m trying to become a digital company, and I’m not even sure what that is. But I need digital people to work for me — techie millennials out of Harvard and MIT who like to live in cities, eat ethnic food, go to indie films and take the subway to work. It won’t be easy for me to fit in, you know. I have to start wearing black turtlenecks, and all of my whale pants are going to Goodwill.
Fairfield: But they will love Fairfield, too!
GE: Frankly, Fairfield, the people I need don’t give a damn about your special neighborhoods or your quaint train station — although they would have been impressed with those solar carports you shot down last month.
Fairfield: Is this it, then?
GE: Afraid so. Hey, we had a great run, and we have our memories. Anyway, there have already been inquiries about the property, and while I still own it, I won’t stiff you on the taxes. My advice is to be careful about what you bring in. Play to your strengths. You’re a first-rate, historic suburban town.
Fairfield: Meaning …?
GE: … Meaning, a high-tech campus might be great, but an “if you build it, they will come” strategy might not work for those techie millennials who love the city life. That’s why I’m just not into you anymore.
GE gives Fairfield a peck on the cheek and leaves. Lights dim, spotlight on Fairfield.
Fairfield: Oh well. Can’t say GE wasn’t straight with me in the end — business is business, and I have to get a grip. I still have my looks, even after 375 years. Maybe I could find a mature company more my speed … like Yankee Candle! Stealing them from Massachusetts would be payback! But NO. I can dream too! I can be historic and forward-looking at the same time!
(Sips coffee) Is it too late to do those solar carports? (lights fade to black)
Ron Blumenfeld is a Fairfield writer and retired pediatrician. His "As I See It" column appears periodically. He can be reached at: email@example.com.