What the hell?
Tucker was feeling the slightest tinge of annoyance now. He knew that the names of the Founding Fathers were public domain, and more than one company had used them over the years. There were Ben Franklin five and dime stores in many American small towns, and the John Hancock Life Insurance Company. Tucker supposed that more than a few companies had taken the name of George Washington, too.
That was all fine and good, as a branding strategy. But Joel was taking the George Washington schtick a bit too far, wasn’t he?
Maybe this was a test of some kind. Tucker would find out.
“Just to be clear,” Tucker said, “when you say, ‘the founder’, you aren’t talking about the actual founder of this brokerage house, right?”
“Of course I am,” Joel said. “I know George Washington. He’s quite an inspiring individual, let me tell you.”
“You know George Washington? You’ve met him?”
“Why, yes. I’ve met him many times, in fact.”
Tucker held his growing annoyance in check, thinking about that prorated junior broker’s salary, and those applicable commissions.
This man was pulling his leg, obviously, though the reason for that wasn’t yet clear.
But Tucker couldn’t let it go.
“You don’t mean the George Washington? President Washington? General Washington?”
“Oh,” Joel said. “Mr. Washington hasn’t officially held the title of president for quite some time. And as for the title of ‘general’—well, he does have a very distinguished military record, though he doesn’t like to talk about it.”
Tucker tried to speak, but found himself at a complete loss for words. Then Joel added something else.
“You’ll have a chance to meet Mr. Washington for yourself, Tucker, before the end of the summer.”
Tucker had a sudden, unwanted image of Joel driving him to Mount Vernon, not far from here, and then taking him into the crypt of George Washington. He imagined Joel prying open Washington’s white marble sarcophagus, and—
Tucker pushed the images away. They were as ridiculous as they were macabre.
But what else could Joel be saying?
“Well, then,” Joel said, stepping around Tucker, and back to his desk. “We’ll see you here on the first Monday in June—in just a few weeks—at eight a.m. Oh—would you like me to show you around the facilities here before you go?” He added this last as an obvious afterthought.
“Thanks,” Tucker said. “But I can see that you’re busy. And I’ll have plenty of time to see your facilities over the summer, right?”
That logic made sense to Joel, apparently. He was already seated behind his desk again. “I do have some important calls to return, now that you mention it. But I’m glad we were able to meet today, and come to an understanding.”
Understanding? Tucker was uncertain if Joel was referring to the summer co-op position, this George Washington nonsense, or perhaps both.
“I’ll let myself out,” Tucker said. “Thank you again, Mr. French. I appreciate—I appreciate everything. Thank you so much for the opportunity. As we’ve discussed, this is a rough year for students in the finance field.”
Joel gave Tucker a final, friendly wave, and reached for his desk phone. “No problem, Tucker. ‘How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.’ Now, take care, and we’ll see you again in just a few weeks.”
Tucker nodded goodbye but said no more. He had a feeling that Joel’s parting words were quoted; and he didn’t have to ask whom they were quoted from.