"I have the Midas touch," announces Ken, nodding approvingly to himself while parading around the office. "Oh yeah!" he adds suggestively, snapping his fingers and switching his hips in some sort of macabre, mid-life crisis travesty of a disco dance move.
Please don't touch the copying machine, I think as he passes my desk, we only got it working again last week.
Ken has either forgotten the moral of the Midas story or, more likely, was never aware of it in the first place. Then again, perhaps he does know and just doesn't care; immediate gain being his only criterion for success and to Hell with the consequences. Such is the belief of most short-sighted businessmen, after all.
Then there's old Al in the cubicle nearest to the washroom. It's been a long time since anything old Al touched turned to gold, although even the briefest examination of his shambolic ineffectuality will dissuade the appraiser that he ever could have, even if gifted the magical assistance of Dionysus.
Old Al reminds me of a waterlogged earthworm marooned on a damp sidewalk after heavy rain, stepped on and crushed by the heedless boots of those in a hurry in get elsewhere.
It certainly explains his spinelessness; his meek acquiescence in being moved to the least attractive part of the office after all his years of service; being shunted closer and closer to the exit with every passing year.
Listen to old Al making a sales call. "Hi this Al Drone with Disintegrating Systems. I was wondering if I could interest you in ..."
You can hear the line go dead and its echoing, despairing dial tone from across the room. But failure does not deter old Al. He clicks on his next prospect's contact information and unenthusiastically recites his tedious pitch once again. A robocall has more personality than old Al's monotone perpetually mumbling nothingness into the void.
Of course, when Ken's Midas touch of monetizing the water supply has rendered that resource undrinkable or unaffordable, and when farm produce is inedible thanks to similar economic priorities, we will probably look back on old Al's lack of productivity somewhat wistfully.
Until then we are all wearing the donkey ears that Apollo cursed King Midas with, tone deaf to our own nagging concerns about putting the very ground we stand on up for sale.