“Apologies, Inc. How may I help you?” she asked, adjusting her phone headset slightly.
“Uh, I’d like to send out an apology tomorrow. Can you do that? I know it’s late,” the man answered.
“That depends, sir. How many people are you trying to reach?” she asked, filing her nails.
He breathed deeply and quietly answered, “Is three hundred and thirty million too many?”
She put down her nail file and replied, “Not a problem. Do you have an account with us, sir?”
“Do you want to open one today? It might speed things up a lot, sir?”
“Let’s just do this as a one-off, okay?”
“Sure, no problem, as a guest. Now, how would you like to pay for this today,” she wondered.
There was a pause and some murmuring on the other end of the line. Then the man came back on the line and replied, “Cash.”
“Okay,” she answered. “Let’s get going on the language. About how many words are we talking about, sir?”
There was another pause and then, “Let’s say four.”
“Right,” she replied, “Four words to three hundred and thirty million people. Let’s see, that comes to twenty-five dollars and twelve cents. Can you handle that, sir?”
“Now, sir, the four words. I am ready anytime you are,” she explained.
There was a third long pause and then the man dictated, “I . . Am . . So . . Sorry!”
“Right. Got that. Now just who is this apology going to, sir?”
“Everyone in the country.”
“Okay, sir. Will that include the undocumented, too?” she asked tentatively.
The man replied testily, “Yeah, them, too!”
“And can I have your billing address please? I’ll send a courier over to pick up the cash.”
“1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.”
“Thanks, got it, sir! You have a good day.”