Chance Rapids didn’t understand.
He was in the middle of the giant ball pit on the north side of his office and he’d been there all day. He had his phone, of course, to call his assistant if he needed anything. And to endlessly scroll the internet.
By his own logic he should be the most beloved human on the face of the planet. He was super rich – the richest on the planet depending on the time of day – and super classy. No! Super cool. Look up the definition of ‘cool’ in the dictionary and you would find his perfect face with its chiseled jaw and totally-not-receding-and-never-had-been-receding hairline. He’d gotten the dictionary made special. It sat on a pedestal on the other side of his office, between his desk and the Slip ‘n’ Slide, open in the middle so visitors would see how smart he was. Of course, the page it was open to had the ‘cool’ entry on it. He always made sure to casually steer his guests over to the dictionary so they would see it.
He’d had the thing reprinted five times, each with his face a little bigger, until finally people started noticing.
It was a cool thing to do! Because he was! Cool! People only needed to notice. That was the real problem. People never seemed to notice.
He thought they’d notice after he went on that super cool podcast and openly smoked a joint. He barely coughed! And sure, some people thought he was cool. But those people always thought he was cool, and it wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t be enough until everyone on the planet recognized how cool he was and it should have fucking happened by now.
Chance picked up one of the little plastic balls and tried to whip it at the target he’d placed on the wall for this exact occasion. It instead hit the popcorn machine several feet away.
If the podcast didn’t work, he was sure the moon thing was going to work. His entire face on the moon! How could it not? The moon is cool! Everyone loves the moon. So putting his face across the side that faces the earth should have shown everyone how cool he was. It was like he was looking down on the planet like a protective guardian. He’d even said as much in the press release. Everyone on the board of both of his companies had assured him that this would be the move that would make the world realize that Chance Rapids was their friend.
Instead he’d been hounded by hate mail, memes on the internet, and an entire congressional hearing to see if it was even legal. They had fined him. The hate on the internet hadn’t stopped. And then, if that hadn’t been bad enough, they had forced his company to pay for the NASA trip to go back to the moon and clean it up. Now he could only see his face if he squinted.
There was a silver lining to it all, anyway. The world had finally shown its hand. The real reason the people didn’t like him. He had always suspected but never let himself fully believe. His fans had whispered it to him, on forums and Reddit, but he had shied away. Surely, it couldn’t be that big.
But it was. It really was. There was an actual conspiracy to get people to not like him. From the government. Those turds on the left who simply didn’t like a man who had earned every penny of the money his dad had given him when he turned eighteen. They were warping the public’s mind, feverishly proceeding with a decades-long smear campaign to make people think he was some evil billionaire who didn’t pay his employees well enough and fostered a company atmosphere where saying the n-word was okay, and worse – that he was a dork.
“I’m not a dork!” he shouted, whipping another ball across the room. This one hit a lamp.
It had taken him roughly fifteen minutes to see what he had to do, and he set about doing it: he bought PingPong. That was where those hateful lefties hidden in the shadows were doing their worst work. It was so obvious, so simple! Buy it out using shares from one of his other companies, and…
Well, if he was right, that would be all it took! Once the leash was off PingPong and the lies stopped, the people could show their real feelings. Those bad-faith actors, afraid of his new power over the site, would stop making those awful memes and jokes, and then the people would stop sharing them. Their true feelings would come out, and, finally free of those puppet strings, the people would be able to tell Chance how much they really loved him. Maybe he’d even get his face back on the moon.
He scrolled through PingPong and tried his very big-boy best not to cry. The memes hadn’t stopped. The jokes hadn’t stopped. The articles hadn’t stopped. In fact, they had all gotten worse. Everyone was mocking him now, all the time. No matter what he did, it seemed to backfire.
First he fired all the people at PingPong he suspected was working on the smear campaign. More than half the company, but he had to be sure. But the jokes didn’t stop and the firings were all the articles were talking about, even though he had, on the same day as the layoffs, gone surfing at the beach without a shirt around and flexed a lot for the paparazzi. None of the articles were about his abs.
So he went after the journalists. Chance had always hated them anyway – always reporting on the normal, everyday stuff he did like pretending he was going to create some futuristic high speed rail to keep an actual train from being built in his state, and not the super cool stuff he did, like pretending he was going to build a rocket bobsled to rescue that soccer team that had crashed in the Andes. They were the real villains, the ones ruining his reputation. But he couldn’t go after them directly, oh no, he had to be sneaky.
They saw through him immediately. Taking away their identity protection was supposed to be sly, but these asshole journalists had him pegged within the hour. It was clear to him now – there was a mole in the company. He’d laid off half of the people left.
And now the website was falling apart and this was somehow his fault, too! The jokes kept coming. They kept making memes. They kept impersonating him and when he kicked them off they yelled about free speech! It was so frustrating! Chance couldn’t figure it out!
“When will people know how cool I am!” he wailed into his three thousand square foot office.