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AVING JUST resigned at the behest of President Barack Obama, former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner announced that he is "already hard at work" writing a book for ex CEOs that should help other former executives "to face the challenges of a harsh new reality, one in which we must economize like never before in order to make ends meet."
Citing his own tiny severance of $20 million, Mr. Wagoner stated that he left his office, "in complete shock, knowing that I was entering a cold, unforgiving world of deprivation. Gone was the modest little private jet. Gone, too, were the five unassuming mansions I had just completed redecorating for my wife and mistresses. If not homeless, I was certainly less homeful, and I don't mind telling you, I was scared."
Not one to be cowed by adversity, however, Mr. Wagoner says that his new, hardscrabble circumstances will eventually "make me a stronger man" by reaching out to those in similar straits.
"We're all in this private, members-only, restricted, $75,000 minimum yearly dues club together, you know," said the now-thrifty ex exec, adding, "It really helps to know that you, your maid, and your private chauffeur are not alone."
The former head of GM hinted at some of the money-saving tips to be discovered in his upcoming book, including "fiendishly clever, but perfectly legal, tax shelters in Myanmar," shopping in used haute-couture shops "for the Mrs., Kiki, Josette, and What's-her-name," and scooping up heavily discounted, auctioned foreclosures in the Hamptons.
"Madoff was a blessing in disguise, let me tell you. The Lord works in mysterious ways, his holdings to receive," observed Mr. Wagoner.
Asked what lay ahead for a man of modest means, the former CEO quickly wiped away a tear and replied in a trembling voice, "I just haven't been able to think that far ahead, you know? Just take one day, one massage, one trip to Europe at a time. That's all any of us can do."
© 4.6.09 Kate Heidel