Northern Gateway Pipeline Means Jobs!

(Author note: In order not to be seen as singling out a particular region of the world, the author has agreed to change all names)

In a non-descript shop, just off the bustling bazaar filled with the braying of donkeys and honking taxis, I first met Bob (not his real name). Bob, despite being born in a poor village in the deserts of Norway (not that country’s real name) has become a surprising corporate success story. Bob makes and sells effigies. That’s right, you see them every night on the television news being burned, hanged and generally kicked about by howling mobs of people in the embattled streets of cities like Saskatoon (not the city’s real name). If you need an effigy for an upcoming protest, you have two choices; you can make the effigy yourself and have everyone at your protest yelling “Hey! We’re supposed to be hanging David Cameron in effigy but the effigy looks like the Straw Man from the Wizard of Oz!” Or you can order your effigy from Bob and receive nothing but compliments on how lifelike the limply hanging effigy of Vladimir Putin looks. Bob’s effigies are such perfect copies of real leaders; you think you’re actually watching the real Rupert Murdoch burst into flames. That’s why I went to meet Bob. To see just what it takes to make a handsome living off effigies. Bob’s little shop is quite deceptive. Although, from the outside, it looks like a small rug merchants’ stall, it is actually the world headquarters of his internet company, “”, with online sales of over $2 million (U.S.) a month, a thousand YouTube hits a day and more ‘Likes’ on his Facebook page than even Lady Gaga. Bob takes me by the hand and leads me through the haze of hookah smoke to the back of the shop to meet his grizzled old father, Ernie (not his real name), the man who started the effigy business over 80 years ago with nothing but a needle and thread, a bottle of glue and some straw from his brother’s camel stables. Ernie, after giving me a large toothless grin, goes back to sewing together what looks like the effigy of Julian Assange. “Dad’s the best in the world”, Bob says proudly. “In the 1930s he was supporting his family just from Herbert Hoover effigies.”

If I thought all that was impressive, my jaw dropped with a thud when Bob took me on a tour of his massive warehouse outside the ancient city gates of Fredericton (not the city’s real name). As we strolled the long aisles of his warehouse, passing thousands of neatly stacked effigies of Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Mark Zuckerberg, Gary Bettman and other hated world figures, I asked him the most obvious first question; who is his biggest seller? “That’s easy. We’re shipping out 50 Netanyahus a day right now” he said. Apparently there were mass protests going on in Oakville (not the city’s real name) by supporters of the well-known terrorist group Nickelback (not the terrorist group’s real name). “So, could I, literally, go online and order an effigy of absolutely anybody,” I asked. “Well,” he said, “not really. To everything there is a season. One day you’re hot, the next you’re not. Fame, sadly, can be fleeting. We have a lot of out-of-date stock that is just sitting there gathering dust, hundreds of effigies nobody wants anymore. We’ve got 350 of George W. Bush, shelves full of Berlusconis, boxes jammed with Blairs, even a few dozen Madoffs. We’ll need to get rid of them soon. Probably set fire to them in a public square somewhere. We’ll YouTube the whole thing, and then after it goes viral, recoup our costs with the money from the Google Ads.

“One last question,” I asked Bob as I stared out his office window overlooking the sand dunes along the banks of the Rideau Canal (not the canal’s real name). “Just curious but, have you had any orders yet for a Stephen Harper effigy?” He flipped through his order book and suddenly his eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Well, well”, he said, as he looked on his map to find northern British Columbia (definitely the province’s real name) “I think Netanyahu may have just dropped to number two.”

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