For the Love of Money
The student hesitated before the door of his destination. “ROBERS CORPORATION” the sign declared. It was likely an attempt at hiding the building’s true purpose, but the nineteen-year-old had done enough of his own research to know this place was not where people with the last name of Rober had their company headquarters, nor was it where people were fitted for robes. This was a recruitment center for thieves.
But was he prepared for a stint in crime? He stared at the drab beige of his faded dress shirt, twisting a loose thread around his finger. There were loans to pay. He needed a job. He forced himself to smile and pulled the door open.
As soon as the receptionist noticed him in the lobby, she began to speak. “Welcome to the headquarters of the Robbers’ Corporation. If you are here to complain about being a victim of a crime, please show yourself out through Door 42. If you have come to inspect the problem we are having with our plumbing, please wait here until 10:30, when Mrs. Billhoarder has finished her meeting with a client. If you are here to apply for employment, please head over to Room 5, where Mr. Goldsnatch will discuss recruitment. If you are—”
“That’s it, thank you very much,” he interrupted, hurrying off to Room 5 through the nearest hallway before he had to listen to any more and forgot his rehearsed interview answers.
As soon as he knocked on the door of opportunity, a plump middle-aged man ushered him in, pointing toward his desk. The student took a seat in a plush chair across from Mr. Goldsnatch.
Goldsnatch popped a caramel into his mouth and chewed. Unsettling. Ignoring the noise, the student began, “Hello, I’m Kevin Lu.”
The man grunted in greeting. “We can just skip the intro. You want to join us. Reasons?”
“I’m in need of a job, Mr. Goldsnatch.”
“Money.” The student wondered if this was how job interviews usually went.
“That’s the best reason. Given you understand the requirements of the job, you’re in as a junior thief.”
“And what will be expected of me, sir?”
“Training lasts a month, in which you are expected to learn the basics of breaking windows quietly, identifying surveillance cameras, stealing etiquette, and other such essentials. Housing will be provided for the time being. Missions for someone of your rank usually occur on weekends, and you will receive ten percent of the profits from acquired cash and the sales of items discovered. As you advance in rank, your share will increase. If you are ever caught, we cannot completely guarantee your freedom. Also, remember that you must cut yourself off from all family, friends, and prior attachments.”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I thought you knew.” Goldsnatch shook his head sadly. “This is meant to be a long-term commitment. So we can’t have people not willing to dedicate their lives to the cause. If you’d like, I can help you stage your death, so you won’t have to waste time on overly sentimental discussions.”
“But… I’m still in college. I just want the money for my education. I’m aiming to be a psychiatrist.”
The man waved his hand. “Time enough for that later. What matters right now is making money, as much as you can, so you can spend it later without ever having to lift another sticky finger. And besides,” he patted the student’s shoulder, “you don’t really need education when you can just leech off of people with it. What do you learn there, anyway? Spelling? Useless, no one cares about that; that’s why we dropped the second “B” on our sign. Why spend money on something like school?”
The student refrained from commenting on the misunderstandings that could be caused by a crucial spelling error, as well as the missing apostrophe Goldsnatch had neglected to mention. He was curious. “Did you also leave your family behind?”
“Ah, yes. I remember being so naive back in my younger days, just like you. But joining us is the smart thing to do. I took the hard way out and broke the news personally. Not too difficult, actually; my parents were already close to disowning me. And after a few successful raids, you will never want for anything.”
“Don't you ever feel guilty about stealing? Even if it is from the rich people over in the hills?”
“No, never. In fact, I have a team scheduled for my aunt’s house this Wednesday. Fitting revenge for what I suspect she did to my sister before I left for this job.”
“What did she do?”
“Well. The last time I saw my sister she was institutionalized, if that means anything.” He chuckled. “No good in dwelling on the past. What do you say? Join us, and you can have everything you’ve ever wanted, especially when you get to my rank. Mansions, servants, no boring housework to do, gold-plated delicacies, any known luxury money can buy.”
“You say you have no regrets.”
“No regrets, no guilt, nothing, as I have told you already, idiot!” He slammed a fist on the table, and the student blinked. “Apologies. Joining us really is the best option. And of course, you cannot forget the convenient morality of broken streetlights and dead end alleys, you see, or how often rich people forget to lock their cars. We do what we must to survive. We are just modern Robin Hoods, dispensing our own form of justice, except we give money to ourselves and not the poor who weren’t smart enough to join us. We are the reminder to be careful. It is so easy to lose more than a few thousand dollars.”
“A hundred thousand? A million? I guess that aspect of it only matters to you because money is the only thing you have.”
“Are you mocking me? You forget where you are.”
“I just thought you needed to hear someone be honest with you.”
“All right, so your answer is no?”
“If I’m not mistaken, Mr. Goldsnatch, you’ve already lost much more than a few thousand dollars. I’d prefer to keep my family, friends, and goals, and all the other things you gave up for your gold-plated hamburgers. There are other jobs more worth the price.”He stood, making a mental note to stay away from other establishments of dubious grammar.
“Goodbye, and thank you very much for your valuable input, Kevin.”
Goldsnatch watched the student leave, shaking his head at the foolishness of today’s youth. Gold-plated hamburgers! He had better taste than that. Why, tonight he had instructed his cooks to prepare a special dinner for him and some of his business associates. They had hinted at a new shipment of black truffles from Italy. When everyone had left after many hours of classy entertainment, he could go down to the private stretch of land outside his home. Take a walk along the ocean, maybe. He’d paid good money for salty air. And there was nothing more romantic than snuggling up with a nice sack of new money on the beach to watch the sunrise.