It had been years since the Super Colossal Foundation — originally founded in 1842 by some long-dead rich guy who made his money on whale oil or guns or slaves or something equally conflicting to philanthropy — made a grant to Sarah’s plucky nonprofit organization. She remembered the last time she won a grant from the Foundation…. it had just announced that their Executive Director of 20 years was retiring. She was a woman with a big personality and an even bigger heart, and she had a hand in buttressing literally hundreds of nonprofit organizations through strategic partnerships and investments in people. In the months that followed, the Foundation conducted a national search for a new Executive Director, interviewing everyone from titans in the corporate world to MacArthur Fellow Changemakers with resumes a mile long. The curious survivor of the battle royale for the ED job was a mousy aficionado for all things numerical and a propensity for hiding in corners and plotting.
In the subsequent years following her rise to power, she would close the Foundation’s coffers to even the neediest and most impactful of community programs, all under the trumped-up guise of wanting to “Change the way The Super Colossal Foundation does business; liberate its funding from the confines of business-as-usual; and secure new partners to innovate, and drive measurable and specific social change for a new generation.” An esoteric way of saying, “Get away kid, you bother me.” As a result of her steely drive for the de rigueur, dozens of long-standing nonprofit organizations with a legacy of helping thousands of people with a hand up, were forced to unceremoniously shutter their programs—some closed for good.
Sarah and Jon saw no other choice. It was 2 a.m.. They were in a white van parked outside the Foundation’s office.
Jon packed his REI rucksack with great care, meticulously inventorying each item as if he was marooned on a desert island and forced to ration coconuts, a sleeve of saltine crackers and some trendy bottled pink water until rescue. Sarah, on the other hand, was a bit more mercurial because it was her plan after all, and because she had nothing left to lose. Her nonprofit organization was days away from shuttering its doors.
“Do you have the crampons? We might need those. I think they are on the third floor, and Patrick has issues with heights,” said Jon as he tucked the Black Diamond Non-Dry rope into his bag. “Why is he here anyway? Do we really need four people?”
“Patrick is our CFO, and he has just as much to lose as any of us–besides, he’s the only one in the office with duct tape,” said Sarah as she casually scrolled through the inbox on her iPhone.
“So, why don’t we just borrow his duct tape?” said Jon.
“Because…” Sarah said as she scrolled through the latest garden shoe offer from Zulily, “he’s a nonprofit finance guy… they put their name on everything so nobody can steal it.”
“Right. I forgot. Why did you also bring Ayesha, the pacifist social worker? The worst thing she’s ever done is post a Mean Girl comment about some frenemy on Facebook,” said Jon as he fiddled with the hand-taser to make sure the batteries were fresh.
“Jon, Ayesha is going to lose her bleeding-heart job like the rest of us if we don’t steal this money. She is committed and is prepared. In the past 2 days, she’s seen Wonder Woman 15 times, and she can now do 20 pushups. Remember, Jon, I let you talk me out of Cassie. I wanted five for this job, like the Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Convinced the taser was now working properly, Jon replied, “While I love playing Rocket to your Gamora, there is no way in holy hell I was going to agree to bringing Cassie. The last thing we need is a fucking trust-fund kid, right out of college with a Liberal Arts degree in Communications, who’s use to getting everything she wants from Mommy and Daddy, lecturing us every thirty seconds on the correct way to hogtie a person so that they can’t wriggle free.”
“First the hands, then the elbows, then the feet,” said Sarah.
“I’m mentally texting you an angry emoji right now,” said Jon, holding his hand up to Sarah in emotional self-defense. Looking at his watch, he slung the rucksack over his shoulder and says, “It’s time. We gotta go.”
They hopped out of the nondescript white van and walk down the darkened street to the Foundation’s Brownstone, where Patrick and Ayesha were skulking about trying to avoid the dim light of the street lamp. There was a palpable nervousness about the duo as Jon and Sarah approached. “Did you bring the duct tape,” said Jon, still obsessing about the details.
“No,” said Patrick. “It’s got my name on it. I don’t want to get caught. Why didn’t you just buy some?”
Livid, and hands beginning to flail about like an inflatable road-side air dancer, Jon exclaimed “What the fuck! That’s the only reason you’re here Patrick… to bring the duct tape! Besides, how can we buy some? You sign our checks. You know we can’t afford duct tape on our salaries.”
“Jon, please, don’t get angry with Patrick,” Ayesha offered with a measured tone and easy voice. “You know this is hard on us both. I for one am having reservations about this whole affair. I mean, robbery? Is that what’s become of us? Is that what an enlightened society devolves into? How does THIS solve the problem? All theft does is perpetuate the same system that engendered our current situation. Can’t we just talk to them or perhaps apply to another foundation?”
“Ayesha, please. This IS big picture planning and execution,” said Sarah. “For millennia, the rich have horded their resources and artificially kept everyone else down–not the lazy, or the stupid, or the illegals as they’ll have us believe. Everyone. And you know what happens? Every few centuries, the masses rise up and take back their society. Remember the American and French Revolutions? How about Robin Hood? Bane in Gotham City?”
“Um, Bane tried to blow up Gotham with a nuke,” whispered Jon as he leaned into Sarah.
“Sorry. It was hard to hear what Bane was saying through that mask. Anyway, this is our time! This is our moment! THIS is what resistance looks like now. Not for ourselves, but for the tens of thousands of people we help every day. The single mothers who poverty criminalized after they left an abusive relationship. The dying children with preexisting conditions that can’t get health care coverage. The hardworking Americans who are tormented, abused, and battered, just because of the color of their skin. It’s for everyone out there that’s sick and tired of turning the other cheek and letting the rich fuckers yank our chains whenever they want–like King Joffrey dementedly toying with an injured bird. To quote Edward Ferrars in Sense in Sensibility, ‘Piracy is our only option.’ Now, Jon, hand them the crampons and let’s start scaling the facade so we can break into the Foundation’s damn safe.”
“Um, Sarah, I thought you brought the crampons. Remember. I asked you,” said Jon.
“Would duct tape work?” said Patrick.
“I still think we should talk to the Foundation,” said Ayesha.
“Arrggghhhh. It’s a good thing my brother taught me how to hand-scale a building when he wasn’t fighting ninjas in Hell’s Kitchen.” Sarah grabbed Jon’s rucksack and scampered up to the third-floor window left open in some staffer’s absent-mindedness. It was only a matter of seconds before she attached the Black Diamond rope to a stationary object inside the Foundation office and cast it down to her comrades in crime. Ayesha was the first to scale, mumbling the entire time about the non-sustainability of the rope being employed and how much energy the Foundation was wasting leaving their window open with the air conditioner running. Patrick climbed hesitatingly, only to stop and restart when his calculator slipped out of his pocket. Jon caught the calculator and pocketed it because he was sure it also bared Patrick’s name for safe keeping.
When the team was safely inside the Foundation office, Sarah pointed and quietly offered, “There… on the wall… behind the surrealist painting of Hedge Fund billionaire Steve Cohen… that’s where they keep the safe.”
“Are you sure that’s Steve Cohen?” said Patrick. “It looks more like John Candy from Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”
Ignoring the comment, Sarah barked, “Ayesha, give me the blow torch. Ayesha?! What… what are you doing?”
“Look! The person who works at this desk has a picture of a puppy AND a kitten on her desk. Aw. How cute,” says Ayesha.
“So, no blowtorch?” stammers Sarah.
“What?” says Ayesha.
“I’m not sure a blowtorch is a cost-effective tool for us to employ… we are on a budget after all,” offered Patrick, still staring at the Steve Cohen/John Candy painting.
Sarah angrily pulled a swivel chair to her position to take a seat. She fumbled through the rucksack with the fury of a caged wolverine suddenly unfettered after being subjected for years to reruns of Keeping up with the Kardashians.
“Sarah, what are you looking for?” offered Jon in a genuinely helpful demeanor.
“The taser,” says Sarah.
“That’s not going to cut through the safe, Sarah,” says Jon.
“It’s not for the safe, Jon. Not. For. The. Safe.”
– Jon & Sarah