Hail and Farewell, Chainsaw Al! Don't let the door hit you on the way out, y' hear?
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I know you're as pleased as I am to be here tonight to honor Mr. Al Dunlap on the occasion of his, er, retirement from American senior management. Yes, the big boy is hanging up his chain saw, and I'm sure that all of you out there would rather give up a flight of stock options than miss his goodbye bash. So...let's bash! Hey, Al, just kidding, you big lug. Who luvs ya? Dude!

You know, ladies and gentlemen, when you've been in business as long as I have, you've looked at a lot of rubber chicken. But I think I speak for everyone concerned when I say that never in my experience was an evening like this one more eagerly anticipated, or richly deserved.

Well now, enough sentiment, huh? Let's cut to the chase--and I do mean cut!

But seriously, ladies and gentlemen, we've invited a long, long list of folks Mr. D. has touched at some point in his long life and career, people who wanted to be there when he bade farewell to the executive suite. Let's get to 'em.

I hate to start off on a down note, but we were hoping that first up would be Mrs. Greta Lovish, our man's first-grade teacher. We called her just a few days ago, and she was chock-a-block with fantastic stories about our guy when he was just a little hacksaw. I've just been handed a note informing me that Mrs. Lovish will not be able to attend tonight. She has sent a message, though. Let me read it. Well, ha, ha. What a kidder. "I'm too scared to come," she writes. "Albert used to bite the other children, and he never really liked me, either."

Oh, well, the heck with her. We've also asked a number of the Al-meister's good friends from high school and, of course, from West Point to come up here and regale us with stories of deeds done and battles won way back before our "Rambo in pinstripes" became what he was smart and bold enough to call himself--America's best CEO!

Hm. That's strange.

They were all supposed to be at table 2, but it's completely...empty. There's nobody at table 2. Not at table 3, either, where all the young turks with whom our honoree grew to business maturity were supposed to sit. Or at table 4, where suppliers and former partners were expected. Huh. It's odd, I have to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, because not long ago I attended an event at which Mr. Dunlap was the bragger--I mean the speaker--and it was very well attended. Afterward a whole bunch of people rushed the stage, practically climbing over one another to get a chance to touch the hem of his goddamned garment! Now, where are they all? Fickle fate! Oh, well. Screw 'em. Come to think of it, he probably did!

But seriously, ladies and gentlemen. It's now my pleasure to bring up the senior and middle management of Lily Tulip, one of Mr. Al's first big corporate assignments, where he forged some of the dynamic solutions that would stand him in such good stead throughout the years and make him the guy we're all honoring tonight. While he was there, he cut 50% of the corporate staff. Of this brilliant approach to growth he said later, "You've got to get the right management--and that doesn't mean tweaking it a little here or a little there.... The people who have created the problem are not all of a sudden going to improve, so I get rid of almost all the senior management and bring in people who have worked with me before." By the way, are any of those people who worked with him before here now?

No? Why not? It's weird!

Gee, none of the Lily Tulip people seem to be here. Okay, then let's call on the table purchased tonight by Crown-Zellerbach, where our man laid off 20% of the employees and mashed a bunch of tasty concessions out of the labor unions. What? Not here? Okay, well how about some words from the folks at Consolidated Press Holdings, where the Saw man sold off noncore businesses and revoked all kinds of lifestyle niceties. No? How about the guys over at Scott Paper, where he laid off about one out of every three workers, some 11,000 people. No again? Man, is anybody out there? Hey, maybe everybody he's ever known is too busy doing the jobs formerly held by three people!

But seriously, ladies and gentlemen, there must be somebody here from Sunbeam, where he laid off more than 6,000 working men and women in very short order, driving the stock price up to $54 this past March. Doesn't anybody want to salute our man today, when the stock is at 16 bucks? Why not?

I don't believe this! Aren't we talking about a hero, a big, bold hero of American business lore? Wasn't Mean Business an anthem of the decade, a bestseller touted by critics and senior managers worldwide? How about some of the bellhops, waiters, and soon-to-be-laid-off workers to whom Al generously gave autographed copies? Aren't they here? No?

Then surely there must be somebody from Wall Street, which rewarded him with glowing first calls and analyses for decades! Nobody here to sing his praises now? Just because of a couple of bad quarters? I guess that would also explain why the tables reserved for Business Week, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal are empty too--all the reporters who used to require bibs in his presence are busy writing stinging condemnations of his vicious, inhuman style because this time it didn't produce sufficient profit.

Okay, Al. I give up. It's a big ballroom, and it seems there's just you and me in it. Come on up to the dais and say a few words.

What? Incredible. It seems that Mr. Dunlap cannot, at this time, be reached for comment. Well, that must be some kind of first.

I suppose there's nothing left to do but hand over this gift, one we always award upon retirement these days: a small quartz watch that will break by the time you get it home...and just for you, Al, because you taught us all what really made business work on Wall Street's terms, a gazillion-dollar severance from the shareholders of Sunbeam.

Now I'll just dig into my chicken leg. You get to work on your filet mignon with that chain saw. Sure it's a little tough, but don't despair. The first cut is the easiest.

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name.