Paul Greenberg

"I'm from Washington and I'm here to help," said the caller.

It was early in the morning, but the well-attired visitor was already sweating through his dark suit as he whisked off his sunglasses and set down a bulging briefcase.

"Come on in, stranger," said the old man as he opened the door. "Don't want you standing out in this sun. You might not be used to it. Ease on in. Loosen your tie. Here, let me have your suitcoat. You don't want to move too fast in this weather. Ain't no use rushin'. You'll get there soon enough. We all will. How about a cup of coffee? Coke? Something a little stronger? I know it's early in the day, but I got a feeling it's gonna be a long one."

"No, thank you. I'm being driven."

"I noticed. Invite your driver in. Maybe he could use a pick-me-up."

"No, thank you. He's got to keep the air-conditioning going. We love the working man in Washington, but not up close. They sweat, you know."

"You think?" said the old boy, who could feel himself getting a little hot himself under his khaki collar. "Nice car even if it doesn't have a bed to put your hay in. Purrs real good."

"Thank you," said the visitor, shooting his cuffs as he eased onto the tattered old sofa and started putting out his booklets, pre-signed forms in quintuplicate, official badge, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, BlackBerry, stylus, apps menu, battery charger, HEW and DHS directories, and OPM Guide to Federal Employees' Benefits, which he never left home without.

There wasn't room enough for it all on the rickety old coffee table. He had to stack the paperwork on the floor.

"Make yourself to home," said the gracious host. "Thought you might be a Jehovah's Witness till I saw the automobile and chauffeur. They always dress nice. Mormons, too. Always a pleasure to have 'em come by. They don't ask for anything, except maybe my soul, and I'm afraid it's all shriveled up in this heat. Don't know what the farmers'll do less'n we get some more rain. I was just thinking the other day that...."

"Yes, sir, I'm sure you were," the visitor interjected. He sounded in a hurry. "But I'm here to make you an offer you can't refuse."


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.