An hour in the life of Jim Squires

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Thursday, November 19, 2015

In an office high above the streets of Norfolk, Va., a handsome, middle-aged man picks up his phone on the second ring.


“Jim! It’s Hunter!”

“Hunter, you’ve got to quit calling me. I’ve told you three times today my board wants us to keep going it alone. It’s our best option to build shareholder . . .”

“Ah Jim, I am only calling because your directors don’t know all the facts.”

“Like what?”

“Like your 9-1-1 steam locomotive.”

“Hunter, it’s the 611, and what about it?”

“Well, we at Canadian Pacific have a steam locomotive, too, the Royal Hindness.”

“It’s the Royal Hudson.”

“Yeah, well, I was just testing you. Anyway, we want to merge our steam locomotive program with yours. I know how important steam engines are to Wick. He could be in charge of the CP-NS steam program.”

“Hunter, I don’t give a *** about steam locomotives.”

“What? Then did you know we are going to paint CP diesels in the colors of all the regional railroads we absorbed? Why . . . just a minute, please, Jim”

[muffled voice] “Officer, why are you banging on the window of my car?”

[distant voice] “Sir you are parked in a bus zone. Our tow truck is taking your car to the impoundment lot.”

[muffled voice] “Officer, how would you like to be chief of Canadian Pacific police?




“Hello, Jim, its Lance Fritz here at good old Union Pacific.”

“Good to hear from you again today, Lance. What’s up this time.”

“Well, you know your steam program.”

“Yes . . .”

“We have three of the biggest operating steam locomotives in the world over in Cheyenne. When our railroads merge, they will perfectly compliment your 3-1-1 engine, and Wick can run our steam program.”

“Jesus, Lance, you guys don’t get it. The engine is the 611, and I hate the damn thing. Give me four SD70s on dry rail any day. And if you are so anxious to own NS, why haven’t you made an offer?”

“Our lawyers are working on it now, Jim. I’ll be right back to you.”

“Take your time, Lance.”




“Jimmy, it’s your mother.”

“Hello, Mom. What a terrible day I’m having. It’s so good to hear your voice.”

“Jimmy, never forget that you are my favorite child. Now, you are coming to dinner tonight,  like you promised, right? I’m making your favorite meatloaf.”

“Mom, I just can’t. Every railroad in North America wants to buy Norfolk Southern. My directors are all next door. We’re meeting around the clock.”

“Jimmy, that’s no way to talk to your mother. Now, be here by 7 or the meatloaf will get cold. Bye, sweetie.”

“Bye, Mom. I love you. Don’t forget to buy catsup.”




“Jim, it’s Mike Haverty over at Kansas City Southern.”

“Mike, it has been ages. But you’re retired, right.”

“I was, but I’m helping Dave out. Jim, it’s time our railroads operated as one. I’m calling to ask you to just name your price, okay?”

“Mike, you can’t afford NS!”

“Have you looked at our stock prices lately? We’ll not only match Hunter, but do you know what else?”

“Yeah, I suppose you’ve got a steam locomotive, right.”

“What are you talking about, Jim? No, it’s about Wick. We at KCS know of his love of passenger trains. KCS has agreed to buy Amtrak for our combined company and have Wick run it. What do you think?”

“I think I need to answer the other phone. Bye, Mike.”




“This is Vinnie from Papa John Pizza. I’ve got four pizzas to deliver to the mail room.”

“Well, you’ve reached the wrong extension. I’m the company’s CEO.”

“Sorry, boss. The operator said all calls today go to you.”

“Well, tell you what. My directors next door are hungry. Can I buy the pizzas from you.”

“What are you offering? The mail room is offering $33.95.”

“Well, I’ll pay $2,000.”

“Be right up. What floor is that?”




“Jim! It’s Hunter . . . again.”

“Look, Hunter, we have no more to discuss with each other. I respect you greatly, but enough is enough.”

“But what if I said we’d double our offer?”

“Double? Are you serious? How soon can you get here?”

“About one minute. My limo just got towed, and I’m standing 100 feet from the door to your building. Let me just call my lawyers and get them to sign off.”




“Mr. Squires, this is Warren Buffett. I’m here in Omaha with Matt [Rose] and Carl [Ice].”

“Sir, what an honor to speak with you.”

“It’s nothing, Jim. You know, I’m getting up there. Can’t work as hard and long as I used to. It’s time I name a successor at Berkshire Hathaway—someone who can take this company to its next level—and my mind keeps coming back to you. Will you and your railroad join our team?”

“Bur sir, you haven’t made an offer!”

“We can afford you, and I’ll tell you what. We’ll not only buy NS, but we’ll buy Amtrak and let Wick run it. He’s such a train nut, Matt tells me.”

“Sorry sir, but Kansas City Southern just bought Amtrak for Wick to run.”

“Haven’t you heard? Just before I called, we bought KCS, and now Amtrak comes with it. Do we have a deal?

“I’ll have to talk to Wick and my directors, Mr. Buffett.”

“We’ll be waiting. And oh, we want you to come to our Christmas party here at Berkshire. We’ll be serving Mrs. See’s Candy and Coca-Cola, all you can eat and drink.”




“Jimmy, it’s past 7. Where are you.”

“Mom, I’m leaving now. After I answer the other phone.”




“Hunter here, Jim. I got clearance to double our offer. But there’s a little wrinkle.”

“A little wrinkle? What might that be?”

“The Royal Pain in the Butt—excuse me, our steam locomotive, the Royal Hudson—can’t be part of this. I forgot I ordered it scrapped last month. But I’ll throw four SD70s on dry rail into the deal.”

“Finally, some good news. Hunter, can you join me and the guys and gals from the mail room for a meatloaf dinner at Mom’s? I’ll be right down.”


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