Train in Vain

Millionaire Charles Croffard Dockery dreams of creating a high-speed bullet train in Florida. Sound crazy? Wait until you hear the details.


To: Carl
From: Dad
Re: Re: Re:Amendment One
Date: May 10, 2000

Listen boy:
  Did I ever tell you the story about the time I was ten years old and sitting under the magnolia tree at my cousin's house? I'd just finished plucking a rooster, and Aunt Ellie was screamin' at me to get on down to the store and get her some chew, but it was hot as the hinges of hell, and that chicken scratched the daylights out of me. I didn't feel like doing nothing. So I sat under that tree, and the heat got the better of me, and I was sleeping before I knew it. I dreamed about planes. Big shiny ones. But they wasn't really planes in the sky, more like they was on tracks flying close to the ground. Had rocket motors on them that shot cottony gauze out the back. Long story short, I woke up all sweaty, ran into the house, and told Aunt Ellie that if I ever had money I'd build one of them plane trains. Well, I must a been jabberin', because she backhanded me for not going to the store for chew like she told me. Didn't bother me none, though. I just thought about that beautiful flying machine.
  Dreams are important, boy. And I ain't crazy.


To: Dad
From: Carl
Re: Re: Re: Re: Amendment One
Date: May 13, 2000

  I spoke with Mr. Liebman a couple days ago -- you know, the attorney who helped me straighten things out. He says maybe it would be best if I saw a judge about this train thing. I hope it doesn't come to this Pops, but Florida is pretty good about committing people if they're demonstrably dangerous to themselves or others. I'm sure you've heard of the Baker Act. Now I'm not saying you're dangerous yet, but train obsession can be a sign of something deeper, according to a psychology textbook I dug out of the closet. I speak from experience when I say that it's easier to take care of these things when they're little.
  Talk to me, Pops.


To: Carl
From: Dad
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Amendment One
Date: May 18, 2000

  Fine, boy. I soldier on without your support. I AIN'T gonna forget this in my will. The voters are gonna go for it, you mark my words.


To: Dad
From: Carl
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Amendment One
Date: May 26, 2000

  Please be advised that I have filed commitment papers at the Polk County Courthouse.

cc: Alan Liebman, Esq.
Route of Travel Bombardier Letter Marketing Plan Petition Memos

  Comes now the natural son, Carl Dockery, in this emergency petition to find that Charles Croffard Dockery suffers from psychological disorders that render him incapacitated in regard to making sound financial decisions for himself and possibly presenting a threat and/or danger to himself or others, as provided by Florida Statute 744.3201:

  1. On or about May 6, 2000, Charles Croffard Dockery indicated to his natural son, Carl Dockery, his interest in funding a "ballot initiative" that would place an Amendment to the Constitution of the State of Florida up for a popular vote November 7, 2000. The ballot initiative would ask Florida voters to approve a "bullet train," the tentative course of which would originate in or near Miami and terminate in or near Orlando.

  2. Charles Croffard Dockery offered his natural son, Carl Dockery, no explanation as to how a "bullet train" would be financed and/or paid for, tacitly assuming that "taxpayers would foot the bill."

  3. Charles Croffard Dockery indicated to his natural son, Carl Dockery, that the former was willing to spend "as much as it takes" to get the ballot initiative approved by the Florida Supreme Court and included in the November 7 general election. He also indicated a willingness to spend large sums of money on marketing and advertising the ballot initiative.

  4. Charles Croffard Dockery is a man of considerable wealth, having sold a profitable insurance business in 1984 in what he terms a "multimillion-dollar deal."

  5. On or about May 13, 2000, Carl Dockery communicated his unease with his father's decision to spend a large sum of money in what could be a futile attempt to get a "ballot initiative" passed.
Route of Travel Bombardier Letter Marketing Plan Petition Memos

Consensus Communications
Bullet Train Marketing Plan
Executive Summary

Objective: Anthropomorphize bullet train.
Strategy: This was attempted, to a degree, by the marketers of the Florida Overland Express, nicknamed "FOX," without success. One possible reason for the failure is the negative emotions associated with the word "fox", such as "sly as a...," and "crazy as a...." More importantly, our research indicates "fox" is '70s street "lingo" for an attractive human female. The train, however, had a distinctly phallic appearance. The incongruity of the name and appearance may have sent an unintentional homoerotic message that the public found unsettling. We propose instead a lovable, unthreatening mascot (see illustration) similar to that produced by Sanrio in Japan to depict the Shinkansen. Focus group tested names include "Sunny," "Speedy," "Snappy," and "Dingle."

Objective: Demonstrate that the bullet train will appeal to people other than tourists.
Strategy: Develop an ad campaign depicting a typical "family breadwinner" commuting from her home in Miami to her job operating a mechanical shark at Universal Studios in Orlando. Tag line: "Florida has just become one great, big job market," or "If you took the bullet train, you'd be there by now."

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