PACKET RAT

Fashion patrol charity, endowed by the Rat, will aid even poor Bill Gates

R. Fink

The sudden influx of wealth from the Rat's rMachines cyberventure is making a big impact on his financial lifestyle. He now has finances.


Though he avoided a conflict of interest by dissuading his agency underling from buying computers from his high-growth moonlighting operation, Mrs. Rat's marketing schemes have rapidly turned rMachines Inc. into a cash cow.


In fact, if demand continues, the low-tech Internet start-up might have to manufacture predistressed PCs instead of pulling them out of government trash piles.


The demand has produced something most start-ups never have to worry about: positive cash flow. It has led to bit of hand-wringing on the part of the fur-bearer.


For one thing, he's had to bring in an accountant. Her first move was to put the cash into a bank account instead of hiding it in the Rat's spare mattress.


And when the number-slinger got a grip on the finances of the Rat family and of rMachines, she insisted the cyberrodent donate money to a charity or two.


But haphazardly spreading the wealth rubbed the Rat's ego the wrong way. 'Bill Gates got on the cover of Time magazine by endowing his own charity,' objected the whiskered one. 'Why can't I?'


'Not to burst your bubble,' the bean-counter replied, 'but we're not in a Gatesian tax bracket yet.'


'Well, sure,' admitted the Rat. 'But aren't there smaller ways to make a difference that deserve my attention?'


'I'll talk with your lawyer about the endowment,' sighed the accountant. 'Just tell me who to write the check to.'


The megalomaniacal mouse turned to his better half for counsel. Who should benefit from a rodential foundation?


'Start with your friends at work,' Mrs. Rat suggested. 'They need wardrobe counseling. Half of them still wear those polyester double-knits dating from the Carter presidency. Of course, you're the biggest fashion emergency of them all.'


The whiskered one glanced at his attire. 'What are you talking about?'







'The tie,' smirked his spouse. 'Isn't that the same one you wore when you took me to our high school prom?'


'No,' the Rat replied, 'I wore this at the junior high prom. I borrowed it from Dad.'


'I bet he's still looking for it,' retorted his better half. 'And is that vest polyester or a precursor to Kevlar?'


'Don't laugh, it's mil-spec. Can't we do something more visible than teaching geeks how to dress? How about a support group for governors who may or may not have done coke?'


Get this


Mrs. Rat grabbed a magazine. 'Look at this picture of Bill Gates, the richest geek in the world. He can't get a good haircut or find a shirt with a collar his size, even for the cover of Time. Is there a higher-profile problem than that?'


'Great,' muttered the furry one. 'I'll go down in history as the rodent who taught programmers how to dress. What'll we call this charity, anyway?'


'Geekwill, of course,' Mrs. Rat said.


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.

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