It was the first day of classes of the Fall semester. Luke loitered in the library, sizing up the school’s new class. He noticed one freshman getting lectured by the school librarian. Nonchalantly he ventured in closer to eavesdrop.
He was too late. The freshman sheepishly wheeled around after the librarian’s rebuke and plowed into Luke. Books and bags went flying as both crashed to the ground. The freshman stumbled and bumbled back to his feet. Luke simply watched in amusement.
“Yes, sorry, yes,” said the freshman. He shook his head and gave himself a scolding.
“Not to worry. Everything still seems to be in the right place. I’m Luke.”
“Erick. Are you, like, a senior?”
“No, I’m way beyond that. PhD student,” said Luke.
Erick looked at Luke in wide eyed wonder.
“What d’ya think o’ the place so far?” said Luke.
“Fastfood U. is awesome. Totally. I just hope I can make it, ya know?” said Erick. The two left the library and started down a long corridor.
“Have you heard the rumors yet about the secret test?” said Luke asked slyly.
“Yeah, but underclassmen aren’t allowed to even mention it,” said Erick.
“What, the Kobayashi Maru?”
Erick looked around as though a crime had just been committed. “Shhh, yeah. Wait, you’ve done it.”
“Of course. No one graduates without doing it.”
“They don’t even tell us where it’s done. And they won’t until our senior year.”
“It’s back in the holographic training room.”
“Really? Where’s that?”
Luke laughed. “I can’t tell you. Besides, you couldn’t get in there anyway.”
Erick paused, wondering if he should ask what was on his mind. Finally, he curiosity got the better of him. “What’s it like? The test?”
Luke looked intently at Erick, then pushed him down a side hallway. Erick’s eyes widened.
“If I tell you, you say nothing, ‘kay? I mean nothing. To no one,” said Luke. He waved his finger in Erick’s face.
“Right, yeah, promise. Not a word.”
Luke looked up and down the hallway to make sure the coast was clear. “The test is the impossible scenario: the unappeasable customer.”
“Wow,” said Erick. He took a moment to gather it all in. “How do you pass?”
“You don’t. That’s the point.”
Erick looked bewildered. “Wait, I don’t get it.”
“The test’s about how you do when failure’s the only option. No one’s ever passed the Kobayashi Maru,” Luke paused, “Except one.”
“Really? Who? How’d they do it?”
“A guy before my time. He broke in a reprogrammed the test so he could win. His name was Tiberius, I think.”
“What happened to him?”
“He manages the flagship restaurant in Enterprise, Illinois,” said Luke.
“Look, I gotta cruise. Take it easy, ‘kay? And remember, you say nothing about this. Remember, stick with the program. You’ll do alright,” said Luke as he turned to leave. Erick nodded.
“Thanks,” said Erick. “Hey, just one more question. What’s your PhD on?”
Luke turned around and smiled. “The power of myth in creating brand loyalty.”