The unemployment line is the great leveler. You now meet people there that you used to run into at Nordstrom.

My buddy Joe Doubleday was in Row A when he recognized Sidney Tartar, the president of Megabear Manufacturers, standing behind him."Hi, Mr. Tartar," Doubleday said. "Long time no see."

Tartar asked, "Do I know you?"

"Joe Doubleday. I was in advertising. You laid me off six months ago."

"Oh, yes," responded Tartar. "I heard good things about you."

"Then why did you lay me off?"

"You were part of our economic safety net. We promised the bank we would let you go so that they'd ease up on our loans. It was nothing personal."

"That's what I told my wife," Doubleday said. "She never could understand why you didn't fire anybody on the 40th floor. After all, they were responsible for the dumb decisions the company made."

"We never made dumb decisions. We were victims of bad luck."

"What about the Velcro beer bottles you tried to sell to the breweries? There was no market for them, and they didn't work."

"Nobody's perfect."

"Remember the fast-food chain specializing in calves' liver sandwiches? Why wasn't anyone strung up for that?"

"We laid off 5,000 high school kids. What more do you want?"

"You had a solid company before you started selling pothole insurance."

"Doubleday, just because we fired you doesn't mean that you're an expert on business practices."

"Mr. Tartar, as long as we're standing in line together, I'm going to take this opportunity to tell you what I think of the executives who are running businesses in America. A Japanese sumo wrestler could do a better job than any of them."

"Doubleday, if we weren't standing in the same unemployment line, I would take severe disciplinary measures against you."

"Mr. Tartar, you drove your company into the garbage dump because you chose greed for your bottom line."

"My employees never understood me."

"What are you doing in this place? I thought people like you had golden parachutes."

"I lost mine in the divorce court."

"It figures. You wreck the company and you can't even hold on to the money they gave you."

"Does everybody here have to take guff from everybody else?"

"No, the only ones who get it are those responsible for the rest of us being unemployed in the first place."

"Doubleday, I always worried about you. Megabear was one big happy family. Do you think I'll have any trouble getting my unemployment check?"

"I doubt it. In order to collect, you must prove that you are unable to handle another job - and you won't have any difficulty doing that."