60 minutes in the life of EHH

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

“Hunter Harrison here, Michael. How are things in Jacksonville? And when are you going to come down to Plantation and see my horses? . . . Whatdaya mean, you’re pissed at me? . . . Yeah, I told the Journal about our offer to buy CSX, and yeah, I know the Journal said I offered $20 billion and you heard me offer you a lot less. Michael, this is the real world and I just wanted to apply some public pressure. But if you’ll come to the table we can get the deal to $20 billion. I can be in your office this afternoon. Okay? Michael? Are you there, Michael? . . . I guess not. . . .Keith! Call the Wall Street Journal and tell them they misunderstood me yesterday. Tell them I really offered $25 billion to buy CSX. Once the hedge funds hear that, Mr. Ward will be back on the phone. Now to call my buddy Jim.” [pause]

“Oh, it’s you again, Hunter. But thanks for going after CSX and leaving us alone.”

“Squires, I was just messin’ with Michael’s mind. Michael’s a good kid, just has to get rid of that moustache and look like a real man. It’s Norfolk Southern we truly love. Have you thought about that new offer I made when we talked.”

“Hunter, that was only 45 minutes ago! Give me a break. I’ve been reading since we hung up.”

“Reading our offer, I hope.”

“No, Supreme Court opinions. Soothes my legal mind.”

“Takes all kinds, Jim. How about I sweeten our offer by throwing in The Collected Opinions of Justice Antonin Scalia? I’ll have him inscribe the book to you next time I’m in DC.”

“Scalia’s dead! And there is no such book or I’d already own it.”

“Doesn’t matter, Jim. I can cut and paste and self publish this for you in a day. And I’ll meet you half way on the location of our combined headquarters. There’s lots of room to build at Kirk Yard in Gary. Nice view of Lake Michigan, too. Plus, you can look out your office window and watch steel being made at Gary Works.”

“Hunter, I’m going to hang up.”

“Okay, Jim, but please consider our new offer. Just think: Your handsome face painted on all our locomotives.” [click]

“Matt, Hunter Harrison here. How are things hangin’ at BNSF? And why won’t you return my calls.”

“Because BNSF is still not for sale. Anyway, the real reason I’ve been hard to find is that Berkshire Hathaway just did a deal for me. We’re merging with Ireland.”

“Does Ireland have railroads anymore, Matt?”

“Hunter, you don’t understand. Warren bought Ireland . . . you know, the country.”

“Say that again?”

“He had so much cash the bankers didn’t know where to put all the Ben Franklins. Not enough to buy France or Great Britain, mind you, but Ireland was just right. I’m to be prime minister of Ireland as well as executive chairman of BNSF. What do you think?”

“I wish Buffett had bought The Donald instead.”

“Warren tried, but Trump kept calling him bad names, and he gave up. Gotta go. The president is on the phone.”


“No, the president of Ireland. He’s giving me language lessons, so I can be understood in Dublin.” [click]

“Lance, this is Hunter. Did you hear about BNSF?”

“Hello, Hunter, Union Pacific is still not for sale. And did you fall for Matt’s practical joke?”

“You mean he was pulling my leg?”

“Of course. Last week he tried to make me believe Berkshire had bought the Association of American Railroads. And today it’s Ireland. Had he said Bermuda or Cuba, I’d have believed him, maybe. That Matt is so funny.”

“Yeah, tell me. Listen Lance, I don’t really want to buy UP. How about you just let me run my trains on your tracks until business picks up?”

“Hunter, how about you try me again when the Arctic ice melts and they grow oranges in Greenland?” [click]

“Michael, you’re back. Ready to talk about our marriage? I’ll meet you half way on our headquarters, too. Lots of room to build at our yard in Memphis.”

“Hunter, you’re a ***. The Dow Jones newswire is saying you offered $25 billion to buy us. Now my biggest shareholders are calling and screaming at me to accept.”

“My my, where do they get such bad information?”

“Let me guess. But Hunter, I get the last laugh. You can’t afford us now. We’re merging with Ireland.”

“Matt is really making the rounds, isn’t he, Michael? Listen, I don’t really want to merge with CSX. How about you just let me run my trains on your tracks to reach the Florida East Coast?”

“Hunter, I gotta go. The president is on the line.”

“The president of Ireland, I suppose.”

“No, Obama. He’s probably pissed I won’t accept your $25 billion offer.”

“You go talk to him, Michael. And how about I sweeten our offer by putting your face on the sides of all our crude oil cars?” [click]

“Joe, this is Hunter. Are the trains on time today?”

“Yes, and please quit calling me. Amtrak is not for sale. We are owned by the people.”

“The people are tired of supporting you, Joe. And admit it: My plan is ingenious. Canadian Pacific buys Amtrak and thereby gets the rights to run our trains over any railroad in America.”

“Will never work, Hunter. Your trains aren’t passenger trains.”

“They are if we put an Amtrak coach on the rear of every train. Think it over, Joe. And listen, did you hear about BNSF?”

“Yeah, they’re merging with Ireland.”

“Ha! You fell for that line of BS from Matt?”

“It’s true, Hunter. Or why would the Irish ambassador be calling me to ask if we have people who can teach the embassy to talk Texas, as in I’m from Yewston and I’m in the awl bidness.”

“A guy just doesn’t know who to believe these days, Joe.”

“Welcome to the railroad bidness, Hunter. Smoke and mirrors and lies and deception wherever you turn.”

“It’s a lot more fun talking to my horses.” [click]—Fred W. Frailey

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