Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
The winner takes it all. The loser has to fall. And the winner should stand over the loser and shout: "Yeah!"
This is surely the general understanding of capitalist life, one in which I'm told there is no such thing as second.
That's because it's called first runner-up.
I'm moved to consider the nuances of competition by a tale that might restore (what's left of) your faith in humankind.
Or might make you think that competition can be enacted in very subtle ways.
You may have noticed that there's been a sudden excitement in the firmament over Popeyes new Chicken Sandwiches.
They are, so rumor suggests, quite astonishing, edifying and a glorious surprise.
Naturally, when suggested rumors float over the web, there might just be a run on the said source of joy.
And so it has proved for Popeyes. Having budgeted for a seven weeks' supply, the chain ran out in two.
Well, how was Popeyes to know that these Chicken Sandwiches were actually good? Or, indeed, this good.
You might imagine, then, that some of its competitors would snigger at Popeyes fate.
What myopia not to plan appropriately.
In any case, you might guess that the local Chick-fil-A -- allegedly home to the undisputed king of chicken sandwiches -- might offer at least a discreet guffaw.
Oh, but though Chick-fil-A management isn't often regarded for its magnanimity to all, its employees aren't without heart. Or, perhaps, aren't without insidious commercial sensitivity.
In Greensboro, North Carolina, you see, the local Chick-fil-A director expressed sympathy for Popeyes plight.
As elementary school teacher Jené Walker explained on Facebook, he wandered over to the Popeyes opposite with a bunch of chicken sandwiches for the Popeyes staff.
As she describes it:
How about the DIRECTOR FROM CHICK FILA across the street came over here and brought them some of their chicken sandwiches!! This is the FUNNIEST, YET NICEST THING IVE SEEN!! The PETTINESS is REALLY REAL y'all
Walker told FOX 29 that the man from Chick-fil-A said he was offering the sandwiches "out of the kindness of his heart."
Some might say his heart is large, as he also offered Chicken Sandwiches to Popeyes customers like Walker whose craving was beyond human control.
Yes, for free.
Now you, as the ultimate arbiter of your own moral ecosystem, must decide whether the man from Chick-fil-A was merely allowing his heart to go out to Popeyes.
Or whether he's a wily old marketer, worthy of those with celestial morals who knock on your door late at night and want to discuss your path to the next life.
As a permanent voice in the Skeptical Chorus, I can't help thinking this was a canny example of competitive action.
These Popeyes customers desperately wanted a Chicken Sandwich. You were there to remind them that yours are still available and taste really good.
Had these people really forgotten that yours are supposed to be the best? Are they so easily swayed by something shiny and new across the road?
The likely answer is yes.
For let me quote the word according to Jené Walker:
ChickFila....I promise to NEVER cheat on you!! You've shown loyalty to me..even when I was about to be disloyal to y'all. I love y'all forever.
Ah, but can we trust Walker?
I have a feeling that when Popeyes gets some more of its own Chicken Sandwiches, she'll be back there to try one.
And through the window of the Chick-fil-A opposite, the director will be misty-eyed and shaking his head.