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7,254 Ways To Help You Understand WorldCom Chairman John W. Sidgmore

by Adam Finley
art/Marty Kelley

WorldCom chairman John W. Sidgmore is under intense scrutiny, and rightfully so, since his company's alleged miscalculations resulted in $3.9 billion not being accounted for--a serious blow to the industry, investors, and an unstable economy.

Should corporations be held to a higher standard so as to avoid this kind of sucker punch to our infrastructure? Many people, no matter their political beliefs, would argue that, yes, these individuals should be held accountable, and even charged with fraud.

By the time these words make it from my computer screen to your hands, you may have already made up your mind as to what should happen to Sidgmore and the other WorldCom executives; but before you close yourself off completely, take a journey back in time with me as we watch a young John W. Sidgmore growing up. I think this look into the human side of this misunderstood individual might just change your mind, and even provide a touch of empathy.

Anderson's Pet Store, 1964:

[Phone rings]

Sidgmore: Hello, Anderson's Pet Store.

Caller: Yes, I'm looking for a cocker spaniel for my daughter. Do you have any?

Sidgmore: I'm pretty sure we do, but let me check for sure. Please hold. [Ten seconds later] It looks like we have about six billion cocker spaniels, sir.

Caller: That seems like an awful lot.

Sidgmore: Well, I could recount them, sir, but the dog cages are about twelve billion feet from where I'm standing.

Caller: It only took you a few seconds to count them and return to the phone.

Sidgmore: Sir, you and I both know it took me seven hours.

Caller: I think I'm going to buy my dog elsewhere.

Sidgmore: Good luck. We're the only pet store in the area.

Caller: You're located in a mall with three other pet stores.

Sidgmore: Listen, if you want to drive eight trillion miles to one of those other pet stores, be my guest, but the last I knew there were only sixty-seven hours in a day. Are you sure you want to waste them like that? If you come over right now, I can get you a really good deal on a cocker spaniel puppy.

Caller: Well, okay. I only want one, though.

Sidgmore: I'll have them both ready when you get here.

Washington, D.C., 1970:

Sidgmore amazes a crowd of people in front of the Jefferson Memorial by reciting the names of all nine hundred states in less than one minute. President Nixon gives the young man a medal, but it takes the president several hours to bend his hulking twelve-hundred feet frame downward in order to hand Sidgmore the medal, a single engraved medallion which may have actually been five.

Boston, Massachusetts, 1982:

A once vibrant and energetic John W. Sidgmore collapses during the Boston Marathon after barely finishing the first three hundred miles. He is unable to conserve enough energy to complete the final five thousand.

There you have it, seven brief journeys back in time into the life of businessman and patriot John W. Sidgmore. Even if this retrospective didn't change your mind about this man's alleged crimes, I trust it has at least made you more sensitive to a corrupt system that ruins even the most astute and self-aware individuals.

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Other articles by Adam Finley: