Anger flashed in the man’s eyes. Thought processes were visible on his face as he contemplated the manner of his exit – would he shout, would he rant, would he throw a glass of water into the face of the man who had just fired him. Dignity fought with anger fought with humiliation, and, rather to the man’s surprise, dignity won.
“Thank you, sir,” he said, “for the opportunity to serve.” He stood and walked out of the door.
Donald Trump breathed a sigh of relief. Not all of his sackngs had gone as well.
The man just leaving was Trump’s forty-third Secretary of State, in the sixth year of his eight year reign. In total he had used the expression “you’re fired” two thousand three hundred and fifty-seven times. His catchphrase from the Apprentice was really coming back to haunt him.
Some had, like the person who had just left, taken it relatively well. Others had not. Trump remembered fondly back to a time where being called a “dotard” had been the worst and most esoteric insult he had ever received. Since then, the words “lunkhead”, “lamebrain”, “dullard”, “ignoramus” (he had thought that was an animal, the offspring of an iguana and a hippo) and “gobshite” had been added to his vocabulary by departing staff, and that wasn’t even counting the words he’d already known.
And they were just the people he’d fired. Others had quit, citing stress, or frustration, or the realisation that they had lost all self-respect as reasons for their departure.
And then each in turn had appeared on Oprah or Ellen pushing their quickly cobbled-together book, telling the “exclusive” inside story of life inside the White House, each portraying an administration running around in panic as if the building was on fire. And then each book in turn would top the bestseller lists, especially the one that portrayed an administration running around in panic because the building was on fire, on a chilly day when Trump had decided to microwave his socks to warm them.
And as they came and went, Trump would replace them, from an ever-dwindling pool, or a gradually draining swamp, if you like. He had long exhausted the supply of seasoned politicos, fellow millionaires and family members, and had taken to hiring ordinary Joes, having found that hiring only people called Joe made it easier to remember their names.
So his staff declined in experience, knowledge and age. Trump looked at his phone, at the tweet that he had sent out that very morning:
The media say that my new chief-of-staff (Joe) is a 17 year old sophomore student. FAKE NEWS!!! He’s actually a 17 year old studying semaphore, for his boy scout badges. His motto is BE PREPARED to make America great again!!!
He sighed as he read it. He had hoped it would sound defiant, but even to him it sounded lame.
And now he needed a new Secretary of State. The person would have to visit other countries, form bonds with other countries, occasionally bomb other countries. It was not a job that any idiot could do, he told himself, or he would have done it himself.
The Donald (no-one is sure why he called himself that upon taking office, Dick Chaney didn’t have the same inclination when becoming Vice-President) sat looking at the phone on his desk for a very long time. To anyone watching he would have looked like a great statesman deep in thought. In fact he was trying to remember how to get an outside line.
Eventually he picked up the phone and decisively pressed a button. This resulted in a short and confused conversation with the White House souvenir shop, during which he unintentionally managed to buy a bobble-head Eleanor Roosevelt.
He hung up and tried again. This time he heard the phone at the other end ring, and eventually a voice said “hello??”, two syllables that somehow managed to convey so much, that the person at the other end recognised the number but couldn’t quite believe it, that the person was both offended yet intrigued, and that the person hadn’t been in the public eye for quite a while now and was not happy about this.
“Hello, Hillary,” said Donald Trump.