Shinra Inc. And Homelessness
By: Jason Tandro
Rufus had this annoying habit of trying to share his horrible habits with as many people as possible. Reeve suspected this was less out of a "misery loves company" mindset as it was an attempt to rationalize his shortcomings by a bandwagon approach.
His latest obsession was heckling beggars on the street corners on his way into work. Heidegger and Scarlet seemed too eager to join in, as did Palmer who was pretty much just looking for an excuse to not be the bottom of the totem pole anymore.
Reeve avoided this habit, naturally, and none of the Turks followed suit mostly because it would be professionally derelict, but Elena did so out of indignation and Reno out of laziness.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," Reeve groaned, one afternoon.
Rufus had seen a man holding a sign that said: "Stranded. Heading To Kalm. Anything Helps."
Rufus had flashed his wallet, loaded with gil, and then burned a bill in front of the man to the general amusement of his heckling posse.
"Reeve, the guy is a professional panhandler," Rufus replied. "He doesn't need your sympathy."
"What about that homeless couple you dogged out the other day?" Reeve asked.
"Hey, it's quite simple. There is plenty of work to do, they should just get a job," Rufus said coolly. "Everybody knows that 95% of homelessness is caused by laziness."
Reeve cocked an eyebrow. "Wikipedia?"
"Yep," Rufus nodded.
"Okay, so suppose they came in for an interview today. Would you hire them?" Reeve asked.
"Hell no. They smell terrible and their clothes are hideous. Plus they didn't speak English! Although now that you mention it, they might make good janitors," Rufus rubbed his chin.
Reeve buried his head in his hands as was the unfortunate side-effect of coming too close to the rotten core that was Rufus Shinra.
"I wish you would be a bit more sensitive and a lot less ignorant," Reeve sighed.
"I'm not insensitive to the plight of the homeless, but there are work houses and prisons, so they shouldn't be outside my door begging for hand-outs," Rufus replied.
"But some of them would rather die than go to prison," Reeve exclaimed.
"Well if they're going to die… wait a minute, what day is it?" Rufus asked.
"October 26th," Reeve replied.
"Too early?" Rufus asked.
"Just a tad," Reeve nodded.
"Okay then. Well what I meant to say is um… that's horrible. What can we do to stop it?" Rufus groaned.
"Well I've actually done the math. If you donated just five million gil to various charity programs per year you could eliminate homelessness in Midgar," Reeve explained.
"Five million gil? Jeez, how much do burgers cost in this city?" Rufus sighed. "And what good will that do for the company?"
Reeve shrugged. "Well it'll be a financial hit, no question, but it will improve our public image."
"Haven't you figured out how this works yet? We're a totalitarian, all-encompassing military industrial complex that owns the world's power source. We don't need to give a damn about our 'public image'. If we started lighting dogs on fire in the street people would thank us for taking care of that pesky canine problem," Rufus explained.
"And the terrorist groups?" Reeve asked.
"All run by spiky-haired girly men," Rufus retorted. "Not really a threat. Or at least they wouldn't be if people would start doing their jobs right."
"Says the man who spent the last two weeks building a beggar-pult on the helipad instead of working," Reeve sighed.
"Beggarpult 2000, Version 3.1!" Rufus corrected.
"That's on its third version?" Reeve asked. "How exactly has it changed?"
"Well the real breakthrough was when discovered what torque is," Rufus explained. "The rest fell into place after one of us looked at a blueprint."
"I see. And the point 1?" Reeve continued.
"Paint job. I think black and red is just so much more terrifying," Rufus smiled darkly.
"And have you used this yet?" Reeve asked, very much aware that this digression had cost a lot.
"We tried it on one of Hojo's pets. Oh ho ho ho. The mess was terrible," Rufus chortled unnaturally.
"Great. Wonderful. Now will you consider my suggestion?" Reeve asked.
"Oh very well, if it will make you shut up then I'll go ahead and sink five million into this collective of yours. But the next panhandler I see is going in the Beggarpult 2000," Rufus replied.
"Very well," Reeve nodded.
The next week the streets of Midgar had cleared a great deal. Soup kitchens and recovery centers were opened up, as well as unemployment centers. The homeless population of Midgar was being fed, clothed and most were even going back to work.
And yet the same man who had been there last week, with the piteous sign about his trip back to Kalm, stood on the stoop of Shinra Tower.
"Hey, you know there is recovery center just down the road. They might be able to loan you some money for your trip," Reeve explained.
"Reeve?" The man asked.
"How do you know my name?" Reeve asked.
"Oh, I'm Billy the Janitor. I'm not really in need, but people are really generous in this side of town. I make more money doing this than at my actual job!" The man smirked.
"So you take advantage of people's good nature and take away from the people who actually need help?" Reeve asked.
"Pretty much!" Billy smiled.
Reeve nodded. "I know just what to do with you."
"Rufus, I have a new respect for this company," Reeve smiled. "You may fire when ready."
"Hey is this roller coaster safe?" Asked a blindfolded Billy. "There don't seem to be any -"
The dull thud of Billy's body pancaking against the side of the train depot was music to Reeve's ears.