Dead Cow and Fish
"How are things this morning, Joe?"
inquired Neil, pulling his car into the animal rendering factory
"As usual boss," said Joe, a big
burly man, who had been working at the animal- rendering factory
for almost five years now. His friend Steve got the job for him.
Joe didn't like the job at first; the plant stunk from cooking
various animals' parts, dead cows and pigs, to make animal fat
and meat meal.The working conditions were terrible in the plant
with fat burning smoke and meal dust. Outside, the plant yard was
always littered with stinking dead animals with bloated stomachs,
animal bones scraped free of meat, slabs of animal fat, cow
heads, ears, hooves, tails and heaps of dead poultry.The ground
was always wet with animal blood, sometimes the excess blood
channeled into the floor drains for collection.Truckloads of fat
and bones from meatpacking factories kept arriving at the factory
for cooking or rendering into animal grease and meat meal.
The dead animals or deads as they
were called waited for their turn in the factory yard to be
crushed into small pieces for cooking into animal fat and bone
Joe never went to high school, but
made good money at the factory. Above all, nobody competed for
the stinking job. Sometimes, he worked over seventy hours a week.
Joe always remembered Steve's advice: never stand still at any
one spot; keep moving in the factory to look busy doing
something; more importantly, make yourself stink more to avoid
the factory manager coming too close to you to give more work.
His old friend Steve died some time ago. Too much alcohol and
alimony payments killed him.Joe remembered his friend's words,
like a mantra about his stinking job: "It smells like
Cindy, Joe's girl friend, didn't
want Joe to work at the rendering factory. "You stink all the
time Joe, leave the job," she told him.
"Honey, to me it smells like money,"
he loved to say that to her.
Every half-hour or so, using a
front-end loader, Joe picked up a few deadsfrom the heap and
dumped them into a large metal pit for grinding. Boy, it stunk.
Then he corrects himself. "Smells like money to me."
Neil, the General Manager, stepped
out from his car and walked several yards from the deadsand
glanced across the heaps of offal, animal bones, and deads with a
great sense of satisfaction. "This winter is too frigid for the
animals," Neil said to himself. "I should charge more to pick up
the deads from the farmers."He made mental notes on this and a
quick calculation, how much more money he could make in total as
a collection fee.
"Are you expecting any visitors from
corporate today, boss?" Joe inquired, parking the loader along
side Neil's car and jumping off.
"Aah, some fat cats from corporate
will be here today, wasting company money on trips," Neal said,
making a 180 degree rotation on his heel, trying to look around
the yard. "Get some men and clean up the yard." "Not too long
ago, you know Joe, I was working as a truck driver in this
company," said Neil, walking around slowly or wobbling like a
penguin, as if to save his body fat."And then, I was promoted to
route manager, then to plant manager when John was fired, and now
as you know I am the General Manager."
Joe stood with both hands across his
stomach and listened to Neil like a child listening to his
teacher. Neil's black hair neatly cut in a corporate short style
in contrast to Joe's unruly long blond hair and unshaven face was
an indication of his progress up the seniority ladder and social
standing at the company. Neil preferred Khaki trousers and
striped shirts. He wore a blue overcoat while inspecting the
Neal learned one important thing
from his old boss, Joel Bernstein, about the corporate staff.
"Never make those ass…..mad." Every corporate officer visiting
his factory got the royal treatment. Neil made sure to make
reservations in top class-hotels and trendy restaurants in town.
Neil's boss, Bernstein, a Jew from the northeast was an unlikely
person to rub shoulders with animal renderers, and yet he worked
for thirty-five years in the business, breathing the foul smell
from the factory until he retired.
Neal had more Italian in him than
any other European blood. He was short and stocky with olive
skin. His voice had the distinct New Jersey accent. Early in
life, he worked in a restaurant and was a part owner of a small
Italian delicatessen before it went broke. A rendering truck used
to pick up fat and bones from his restaurant once a week, and
that was how he get to know Joel Bernstein, the rendering
factory-manager who offered him a job as a truck driver when Neal
Every time Neal got a call from
corporate, he felt jumpy because of his lack of total
understanding of the rendering process.His old boss Bernstein,
who was totally self-educated in rendering, used explanations
containing technical terms every time the factory broke down.
Bernstein used explanations such as, " Not getting enough vacuum
in the evaporation system". "The conveyor screw is not pulling
enough material to feed the cooker." "The material is too sloppy
to cook." "The press is not pressing properly." "The refractory
in the boiler is in bad shape, needs a replacement soon,"
etc.Neil regurgitated these every time he had to explain
something about factory breakdowns to corporate.
Jim Jones, JJ for short was the
senior Vice President at the corporate office of Dead Cow
Rendering Company.He had a checkered past. While in high school,
he got a summer job in an animal-rendering business belonging to
his friend's dad.His work was to schedule the route trucks to
pick up the fat and bone trimmings from various supermarkets in
the town. That was how he became a route manager. A short man,
JJ's perpetual crooked smile brought fear among his
In an unexpected corporate shake up,
an Investment Company from northeast bought "Dead Cow Rendering
Company" hoping to "make a kill," financially speaking. Mad-Cow
Disease, although it did not kill any cows, almost bankrupted the
company. The investors promoted the crooked smile JJ to COO, CEO,
and President all at once, to show their confidence in him. With
over thirty years in rendering business, he realized that the
business of animal rendering would never go down like coal or
steel since as long as people eat meat, animals, had to be
slaughtered and the waste animal parts had to be disposed of by
rendering. Since millions of pounds of waste animal parts had to
be rendered daily across the country, his job was as safe as a
It was a dream come true for JJ.JJ
drives an emerald-green Jaguar. While driving to work it occurred
to him that his initials JJ and the first letter in Jaguar, made
a "Triple J," a symbol for his recent promotion to three
positions at once.He always liked to see the pattern in
everything.If he didn't see one, he created it. He compared
himself to a Jaguar, which went for the jugular vein of its prey.
His competitors were his preys in the nasty business of the
animal- rendering. He saw himself as a lion holding the jugular
vein of his competitors.
As the new president of "Dead Cow
Rendering Company", JJ designed a new company logo of a dead cow
a with bloated stomach lying on its back with all four legs
straight up in air and the words "Cook Me Quickly" coming from
its mouth painted on all the company vehicles.
Whatever he read in trade magazines,
JJ would repeat in meetings. "If we don't render animal parts,
the whole country will become a landfill full of animal parts and
the whole nation will stink." Or " Huge harvests of soybeans in
China and Brazil was hurting our business," so on and so
JJ fired several corporate staff
members from the previous administration and recruited new
ones.The one and only qualification for any job was total loyalty
to him. His inner circle staff was all "Yes Men." He behaved like
a Jaguar on a tree with his handpicked staff on the ground,
looking to identify any disloyal person to be caught at the
The people at the Investment Company
on Wall Street who owned Dead CowRendering Company didn't like to
eat red meat, preferring tofu and veggies instead.Obsessed with
their blood cholesterol, LDL, HDL levels, and cholesterol/HDL
ratio, etc., they made sure their blood vessels were clear and
clean.During lunchtime they jogged around their office building
as a show-off. One of their company's new recruits with an MBA
from an Ivy League School presented impressive results from a
study showing a close relation between the eating habits of an
average Joe and his company stock value. The MBAalmost choked
while eating a baby carrot during lunchtime while sharing his
joke "If an average Joe doesn't eat more red meat, we are dead
JJ hand picked Neil and promoted him
to work at Corporate Office. Neil was happy to be part of
corporate, his life-long dream.
JJ likes the expression, "brain
storming."He read about this in a trade magazine. Since then, he
uses it a lot in every meeting and conference calls. During one
of his brain storming meetings with Neil, JJ asked if he had any
new ideas to get more raw materials to render at the factories.
This caught Neil off guard. After all, his knowledge was very
limited to what he learned from Bernstein. His days in the
restaurant business quickly flashed into his mind like a saving
"Cabbage rendering" blurted
"What"?JJ's mind couldn't catch
"You know, how much rotten cabbage
is thrown away into dumpsters every day at large grocery stores?"
Neil's voice gained confidence as if he discovered some thing
totally new. "If we can collect all the cabbage and other rotten
veggies from all the supermarkets in the country and render, we
can make a ton of money."
Neil's idea has now created a real
storm in JJ's brain.
"You mean to say, we can render
rotten veggies like scrap meat?" JJ started jumping up and down
"Why not, any thing can be
"What do we get out of rendering
veggies any way?" demanded JJ.
Neil found himself in trouble now,
he never thought that this conversation would continue this far
with JJ, whose attention span generally lasted a few seconds at
"I am sure there is something in
everything," Neil tried to avoid eye contact with JJ while
putting out all the rubbish that just came to his mind.
"Okay, we will talk about it later,
I have to make an important call," JJ waned toward Neil to leave
Neil took a deep breath for getting
off the hook and thought of thinking more about cabbage rendering
JJ immediately called his bosses at
the Investment Company to explain about rendering veggies as if
it was his own novel idea to expand the business beyond animal
rendering. The bankers, who loved to eat veggies, liked the idea
and asked their new MBA recruit to work on economics of
Steve Dick was one of the "yes men"
JJ promoted to corporate office as Director of Factory
Maintenance. When Dick received the company credit card with his
name followed by the title "Director, Corporate Maintenance," he
was ecstatic. He kissed the company credit card lightly several
times and placed it in his wallet carefully between other cards
Steve Dick never liked his last
name; not very many people had the last name Dick. When he was a
boy, his grandfather said to him that in Britain where their
family roots were, Dick was a respectable last name and meant
another "Person" or "Fellow." Instead of calling somebody,"Hey,
Fellow," they said "Hey, Dick." All these explanations did not
satisfy Steve. He would rather preferred Dickson, Dixon, or
Dickenson but not Dick. None of his friends called him by his
first name Steve. Everybody liked his last name Dick or
variations of such as "Dicke" or "Dickling"or worse"Moby Dick.""
Don't DickaroundDick," they teased him all the time when he was
Dick worked as a mechanic in one of
the factories Dead Cow Rendering Company owned before he became
corporate. Dick worked under Howard, the Plant Manager, for
several years. Howard was very knowledgeable when it came to
equipment and plant operation though he didn't know how to manage
his people. He constantly abused his men with rude remarks and
foul language. They in turn thought he was crazy. Dick learned
quite a bit from Howard about equipment and plant operation the
hard way since he had to put up with all kinds of insults from
Howard. Dick saw a light at end of the tunnel. Howard would get
fired one day and Dick waited for his opportunity. Howard as
usual stuck his neck out every time and expressed his opinions
loudly and put his foot in his mouth so often that not long after
Dick got Howard's job. The only problem was Dick didn't learn
everything about plant operation and wasn't smart enough to
figure out how to fix problems. One thing he learned was to shut
up and never to stick his neck out to say anything as Howard had.
That approach worked very well for Dick or Dicky or
Dick continued his approach of
solving the plant problems by letting the mechanics solve them, a
risk free- approach unlike the one his old boss Harold took. If a
piece of equipment broke down, he talked vaguely at length and
gave a lot of fluffabouthow to fix it. So the mechanics called
him "fluff" or "fluffy" behind his back.
When Dick visited one of the West
Coast factories, he got a telephone call from a mechanic at an
East Coast factory.
"Dick, we have a serious problem
here. Grease from the cooker is getting into the boilers somehow,
we are not able to figure it out, we need your help." The
mechanic sounded panicky.
" You guys checked everything?" Dick
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, we did check
everything, still, we can't figure it out."
"Umm, grease is lighter than water,
right?" asked Dick.
"Well, go figure it out now. I gave
you the clue, how to fix the problem now."
The mechanic practically received no
advice from Dick to fix the problem, hung up the phone muttering
"your are full of fluff."
Dick spent most of his time taking
photos of used and dilapidated factory equipment at various
rendering factories and junkyards from East Coast to West and
showed it to JJ as a novel idea of acquiring used equipment to
save money for the company. None of the equipment he bought was
either useful or saved him from facing to solve any specific
maintenance problem at any factory. Once while flying in a plane,
he wrote his corporate responsibilities in few verses on the back
of the boarding pass as follows:
pictures, pictures of equipment,
new, inside out, outside in,
down and downside up;
I log a
lot of travel time raking up frequent flyer
time is suck-up time for me,
I am ready
to step in as V.P., now,
I hang on
to my company cushy job by hook or crook.
Dick read what he wrote again and
again and thought what his grandfather said once about their
British ancestral roots and respectability in his name "Dick."
For the first time, he felt proud to be named "Dick."
JJ was under pressure from the
Investment Company back east to expand"Dead Cow Rendering
Company." JJ kept chanting, "acquisition or liquidation," in his
mind all the time. In the acquisition frenzy, he bought a small
meat-meal mixing company in the Midwest. The factory had no
buildings except two rusted silos and a mixer located outdoors to
mix the meat meal.The Investment Company was happy about the
acquisition deal, at least on paper. This was JJ's first
acquisition and was proud to expand the company.He brought on
board Duke, the former owner of the blending company and gave him
the title of "Director of Hazard Control and Safety Promotion." A
rotund, five feet tall person with deep eyes buried in thick
lenses, Duke's life-long dream was always to write memos. Before
acquisition, his company was a one-man show, just himself.But now
he was in charge of several managers. He wasted no time in
sending memos on safety to all persons at every level in the
company. Following was one of his memos:
From: David Duke
Director of Hazard Control
To: General Managers
Drivers and Workers
Waste Water Treatment Operators and
to whom ever it may concern.
I am writing this memo as the
recently appointed Director of Hazard Control and Safety
Promotion. Safety is the utmost in plant operations particularly
in our kind of operations where we walk on slippery greasy
floors.Therefore I remind you to be careful on slippery floors.
If a worker inadvertently slip and falls into the huge hoppers
containing dead animals during night shift and nobody notices, he
will end up as part of meat meal mixture by the next day.
Therefore, I suggest every one of you to walk carefully near the
hoppers. Lastly, I want to share an observation I made during my
recent visit to one of our poultry rendering facilities. I saw
one of our workers chasing a few live chickens that were dumped
along with a truckload of dead ones; he could have drowned in the
mountain of dead chickens without anybody noticing him. I advise
managers to instruct their workers not to repeat this risky
behavior at our plant premises. Again, as a recently appointed
Director of Hazard Control and Safety Promotion, I assure you my
services are available 24 hours a day. Please remember our
company motto when it comes to safety: "It is not worthwhile
to die for a dead animal."
Director of Hazard Control and
COO, CEO, and President
Dead Cow Rendering Company
P.S. Please display the placards
with the motto "Be safe and it is not worthwhile to die for a
dead animal" prominently everywhere in the factory yard.
JJ loved the memo, particularly the
company motto on safety.
Through a recruiting agency, JJ
selected Victor or in short Vicky for the position of Vice
President of Pollution Control. Victor's physique and his
athletic achievements as a former college football player
impressed JJ very much.
Though Victor's qualifications did
not even remotely meet the job description, the recruiting agency
padded Victor's resume to meet all the job requirements and got
him the job.As a Vice President of Pollution Control, in short
V.P.P.C., he convinced JJ to introduce a new method of doing
business called "outsourcing" or contracting out all company
projects to outside contractors.JJ liked the new terminology and
started out sourcingall the company's work to outside
consultants, not realizing the hefty fee, the consultants charged
In the beginning, bloated dead cows,
pigs and animal parts made Vicky very sick. Then he realized that
he could conduct the business from cushy hotel rooms without even
visiting the stinking factory sites. For crying out loud, I don't
have to visit the ghostly factory site, though I love to visit
the citywhere the factory is located, Vicky thought.For Victor,
the rendering factory locations were like recreational retreats.
In San Francisco, he stayed at Fishermen Wharf area over looking
the Bay. In Los Angeles, he stayed in Long Beach. In Ft.
Lauderdale, he stayed at luxury hotels, and so on. From airports,
he drove straight to hotels and never visited the factories at
all. Sometimes he strayed in cities where no factories existed at
all.This was an extended luxury vacation with endless golf and
feeding frenzy in steak houses and specialty seafood restaurants
with company money.Once while he was flying in an airplane, all
of a sudden thoughts rushed to his mind about his new-found
fortune as VPPC, then he scribbled the following verses at the
bottom of an advertisement in a complimentary travel magazine
which asks a young executive, "At what age you want to retire,
forty, forty five, or fifty?"
Am I Lucky or What?
out, in and out,
during the morning,
in the evening,
take its course in resolving,
problems and environmental noncompliance;
happy, happy, happy,
The Investment Company saw a direct
correlation between family size and meat consumption, and
immediately instructed JJ to appoint a Hispanic person at
corporate office.Firstly, it would fulfill minority
representation on corporate staff and secondly, Hispanics
represented the largest growing minority group with large
families. That translated to more meat consumption and more
animal parts to render.JJ saw the connection and immediately
recruited Jose Carlos Rodriguez de la Peńa as director of Human
Jose's parents were from Guatemala.
Before he immigrated to the United States, Jose's dad worked as a
cowhand in a large cattle ranch. His small house on the ranch in
Guatemala, a concrete block dwelling with galvanized sheet
roofing, was so hot during the daytime, he slept under the shade
of trees in their yard in a hammock. When he moved to the United
States, the trailer home his father rented was like heaven for
Jose received a degree in mass
communication from a community college in the United States.
Being bilingual got him the job as Director of Human Resources.
He was excited to wear a tie and jacket every day to work and sit
in his air-conditioned corporate office.
One day while Jose read a trade
magazine to kill time in his office, JJ crashed into his office
demanding that Jose start writing memos in both Spanish and
English to show that Dead Cow Rendering was serious in its "Equal
Opportunity Employer" policies."We conduct nasty and stinking
business but we are committed to equal opportunity employment
here." JJ talked like a mad man. For Jose, JJ reminded him of the
ranch owner back in Guatemala who always spoke as if pulling his
Jose prepared a Company Newsletter
with a title appropriately "Guts" or in Spanish "Las
It is a great pleasure for me as the
first Hispanic Director of Human Resources of Dead Cow Rendering
Company to send this first edition of our company News Letter
"Las agallas" or "Guts."
I am grateful to JJ, the COO, CEO,
and President to employ me at the corporate level to look after
Human Resources Division (HRD). While the great explorers like
Balboa and Magellan discovered Central America and Pacific Ocean,
JJ discovered me, as I am originally from Central America.
As you know we are in the business
of collecting animal guts (offal) to render at our factories, but
you the managers have to go beyond collecting the animal guts,
and also show your own guts in employing more minorities at your
facilities. Your guts and the animal guts should go hand in hand
to prove that our company is an equal opportunity employer
Jose Carlos Rodriguez
Human Resources Division
CC: Jim Jones
COO, CEO and President
Dead Cow Rendering Company
JJ loved the Newsletter
particularly, how he was compared with great explorers such as
Balboa and Magellan though he never heard their names
Most mangers did not take Jose
seriously. Everybody believed that he was filling the minority
requirement at corporate level. They called him "Las agallas," a
new word they learned in Spanish behind his back. Some called him
"Pepe," nickname for Jose. But they all agreed that Las agallas
or Pepeknew how to greaseJJ's elbows.
The investment bankers were not
satisfied with JJ's performance so far in improving the stock
price of Dead Cow Rendering Company on Wall Street. As an
incentive, they promised JJ additional commission and stock
options for bringing in more dead animals to cook.For every
additional dead cow or pig brought in, JJ would get a small
One day, JJ was driving home in his
Jaguar, he heard on the radio that the climate change El Nińowas
returning to hit United States again, and that meant unusual
weather patterns would hit the country again with severe drought
in some places and heavy rains at other locations. This can't be
good for cattle, pigs or soybean crop, he thought. JJ imagined
dead cows and pigs with bloated stomachs piling up in the plant
yard waiting to be crushed and poor farmers in China and Brazil
losing their soybean crop from bad weather.JJ saw the pattern and
the jigsaw puzzle pieces coming together, all this spelled good
luck for Dead Cow Rendering Company. Everything happens for good,
JJ thought.He immediately called his bosses to let them know the
possibility of a steep rise in prices of the finished products
and abundance of dead cows and pigs from bad weather. The Ivy
League MBA immediately jumped on conducting a study to find how
El Nińo affected the animal-rendering company stock price.
JJ had no specific business model to
run the company. Most of the business acquisitions JJ made looked
good on paper but later proved to be a financial burden. His
inner circle of "yes men"spent more time crisscrossing the
country on planes and writing memos.The outsourcingpolicy Vicky
introduced to make him free of workload ate all the company
profits and proved to be "Voodoo Economics."At every company
brainstorming retreat at an expensive golf resort, JJ
relentlessly chanted his business principles, which were based on
simple natural consequences such as"All businesses are cyclical."
"What goes around comes around." "What goes up comes down." And
more importantly, "It is the human emotions, stupid, when it
comes to stock market prices."
After moving to corporate office,
Neil didn't get a chance to speak to Joe back at the factory for
a long time.One day Joe called him on the phone.
"Hi, boss, it is Joe, remember
"Yeah, how are things up there,
Joe?" inquired Neil.
"We are cooking an awful lot of
stuff you know, thanks to you."
"We got to make money."
"You know, I noticed recently a lot
of dead fish in the creek behind our factory, I am wondering
whether the blood and juices from the dead cows killing these
"What dead fish?" Neil
"The dead fish I see next to the
factory storm drain that discharges into the creek."
"We don't have any storm drain that
discharges into the creek as far as I know," Neil replied.
"Well, the storm water from the
factory yard containing blood and the juices from the dead
animals on the yard, and all that crap discharges into the creek
through the storm drain, you know."
"Is blood not good for fish?"
"I don't know, boss.I read in the
local newspaper that a leak from anhydrous ammonia tank from a
farmer's field seeped into the same creek and killed an awful lot
of fish," said Joe.
"May be that ammonia killed these
fish too." Neil reasoned.
"Yeah, but the farmer lives way
downstream to our factory storm drain."
"So, fish do swim upstream. Don't
you know in Pacific North West, Salmon swim upstream to spawn
"You think that the fish poisoned by
the anhydrous ammonia from the farmers' field were able to swim
upstream a few miles to our storm drain site to die?"
"I think so." Neil showed confidence
in his voice.
After two days, Neil received
another call from Joe. This time, Joe' voice was desperate and
frightened. "Neil, this morning, I saw a few guys from the State
Pollution Control Agency collecting samples at our storm drain at
Neil realized that this incident was
getting out of hand."Joe, I couldn't talk to you on this matter
any more, okay?" "You deal with it locally, remember, I am now
corporate, any way I am getting another call." He hung up the
Since Neil worked at the corporate
office now, he mentioned to JJ about fish kill during the
"How can blood and juices from dead
cows kills fish?" inquired JJ. "What's the connection?"
Neil tried to explain the connection
between water stream contamination with animal blood and fish
kill. JJ abruptly stopped Neil, and said he needed to go to his
dentist for an appointment. Instead he drove straight to the
Joe after speaking with Neil that
morning realized that he was a dead fish. That was exactly how
Neil felt about himself after speaking with JJ after
How dead cows could kill fish,
thought JJ while having a drink at the country club but again,
"it is the human emotions, stupid," that kills the company stock
prices, he reminded himself.JJ decided not to break this news
immediately to his bosses back eastafter all, he don't want to be
a dead fish either.