Mr. Scrooge was happy when he made money. This year marked a record in profits for his coupon and incentive online businesses, much to the dismay of the street vendors, who cried foul at his company's tactics. They claimed Scrooge drained the pennies from their pockets.
"Mr. Scrooge," they would yell from the street, "how will Christmas be had, with a measly two gig memory card for our PDAs and no Playstation games for our children? We cannot afford better! Your applications steal our commissions. How is that good business for all?"
"Bah. Humbug," Scrooge muttered in his penthouse, shutting the door to enjoy the DVD fireplace simulation on his laptop. "Fools indeed," he grumbled. "Why do they interfere with my business? My business is my own, and business is good."
That night, Scrooge was visited by three spirits. The first was the Ghost of Business Past.
"Why come to me, dear ghost?" Scrooge whimpered, head bowed in fear.
"I only wish to show you the past," replied the spirit. They traveled in time to Scrooge's first job, years and years ago.
Two men, his former bosses, were discussing the company's future. "There's a fine line between what's right and wrong in making money," said the first, glowering into his monitor.
"I disagree," said the second. "I'd like to hear from our youngest and brightest employee, Mr. Scrooge. Maybe he has input on what he thinks we should do."
Scrooge watched a younger version of himself spryly burst into the office. "Why, that's me!" he exclaimed. "Why am I to see this?" he asked the spirit.
"Just watch," said the spirit.
"Mr. Scrooge," said the second man, "you're aware of the new software we're about to launch, having developed it yourself all those long nights in the office. What's your take? Is it good business?"
Scrooge didn't need to hear more. "Spirit, I know what I said in that meeting. It is the basis for my business model today, which is successful. Must I bear witness to what I already know?"
"Quiet!" said the spirit, "Our time is done here."
Scrooge found himself back in his bedroom. The second ghost appeared moments later. "And who might you be?" Scrooge asked.
"I am the Ghost of Business Present," came the answer. "Come with me."
Instantly, they were in Bob Cratchit's living room. A street vendor, Bob sold other's products for commissions. "I know this man," said Scrooge. "He stands beneath my window and harasses me about my business model."
Bob was feverishly trying to make new Web pages before dinner with his family. He had recently quit his day job to pursue a street-vendor career full time. But times were tough. He blamed his woes on Scrooge.
"Sales are down," Bob told his wife. "Down 15 percent in two months. I don't know what to do."
"It's because of Scrooge & Co., isn't it?" said his wife, "You get angrier with every month that goes by. What is there to do?"
"It's my fault again, is it?" said Scrooge, disgusted, "Libelous, I say! I shall sue every one of them if they don't recant this hearsay!"
Once again, Scrooge found himself suddenly back in his bedroom. The third specter was the Ghost of Business Future. "I suppose you're going to show me the future?" inquired Scrooge of the spirit. "Let's get on with it then."
They arrived at a party. A street-vendor party. At the head of the table was that menace, Bob Cratchit, grinning from ear to ear. The calendar on the wall displayed a date in 2003, one year from today.
"Cheers to all! The mighty Scrooge & Co. has been defeated! We will have our commissions back!" Bob cheered. The crowd roared and raised their glasses. "The sad part is, we didn't want a total defeat. We only wanted a fair and honest shake. If only Mr. Scrooge had seen the light earlier, things might have been different," Bob continued. The listeners nodded in agreement.
"Show me no more, Spirit. I cannot take what lies ahead," Scrooge wailed. "I will make amends forthwith! My business model will change! I will make it clear to customers what my downloads do. I will not hijack affiliate links. I swear it!"
The next morning, Scrooge awoke refreshed. "It was all a dream," he sighed. Overjoyed, he ran to his computer to check the morning's profits. They were up, as usual. Relieved it was but a nightmare, he made some gourmet coffee, booked a 20-day cruise for a needed break, and retired to his sofa for a nap.
Down on the street, Bob Cratchit and his associates continued their protests. Their voices grew louder by the day. Yet no spirits came to save them.
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