This week's challenge was about opening the sort of business we thought Riverside might need. So --
It's another collaboration!
Lisa (who will be playing Dr. C): What does Riverside need?
Josh (who will be playing Neme, pronounced "NEH-mey") (without pause): Insurance.
Name of Business: The Paper Blade
Slogans: Be Sure! Insure with Neme and Dr. C! We protect your Ass(ets)
Best read in a Brooklyn accent.
Potential Client: Insurance? Isn't that what I have my swordsman protector for? Hugh here keeps people from messing with me and what's mine. Anyone tries, Hugh'll kill him. What more insurance do I need?
Neme: And how will that stop you from going out of business if someone's too drunk to recognize Hugh? Now, look. Let us say there's a duchess. And this duchess puts a lot of her family money into -- into -- help me out, here, Doc! What do duchesses put money into?
Dr. C: Um... They have those pretty boats, Neme.
Neme: Sure, sure. Let us say this duchess puts her family money into a boat. One of those explorer boats.
Dr. C: Yeah! One of those explorer boats.
Neme: And let's say that boat happens to... you know, sink.
Dr. C: Boats do that.
Neme: Sometimes, yeah. Not all the time, but yeah.
Dr. C: You understand, no one wants them to sink. We're not talking an "accident". We're talking an accident.
Neme: Yeah. This isn't that kind of insurance.
Dr. C: You want _that_ kind of insurance, talk to Larry down the block.
Neme: Or don't.
Dr. C: Hey, he gives very reasonable rates!
Neme: The point is, that kind of insurance, you're getting protection from the person selling you that kind of insurance. Or, you could hire a swordsman.
Dr. C: Which you've done.
Neme: But the swordsman won't protect you against the world.
Potential Client: But that's exactly what I hire a swordsman to protect me against.
Dr. C: He protects you if it rains? If a branch falls on your house?
Neme: If it catches on fire?
Dr. C: By accident. Not by "accident".
Neme: So all you have to do is give us a bit of the value you want protected, every month.
Dr. C: Like, say --
Neme: No, no. We gotta asses it first. See what the risks are. We've got a student at the university working for us who can turn all of our observations into numbers.
Dr. C: It's really very impressive. And all he asks for are tomato pies.
Neme: Yeah, great bargain! Now see, that duchess's boat --
Dr. C: You know, the hypothetical one.
Neme: Yeah, hypothetical.
Dr. C: That hypothetically sunk.
Neme: Yeah, yeah. If we knew it was, say, going out to -- hey, Doc? Where did the chocolate princess come from?
Dr. C: The one who was with Tess the Hand?
Neme: Yeah, that one.
Dr. C: Um... B-something? Bikin--
Neme: Whatever. It doesn't matter.
Dr. C: Then why did you ask?
Neme: (sighs) She's so literal minded. The point is, journey like that, never succeeded before? We wouldn't have sold her insurance.
Dr. C: We wouldn't have?
Neme: Nope. See, insurance is a way of sharing risk.
Dr. C: Yeah, sharing. People ought to share. But, we all know we need to know what's in it for us first. That's just smart.
Neme: So we wouldn't have sold the duchess insurance at any price she was willing to pay.
Dr. C: Hypothetically. I mean, of course, even a hypothetical duchess wouldn't do hypothetical business with us, but never mind that.
Neme: But, your ordinary house fire. Most houses don't catch on fire most days most years.
Dr. C: Er... there was that dry summer five years back.
Neme: Yeah, that's why we have a clause for district-wide fires. We don't pay out for those. Otherwise, nobody would get any money and everybody would be unhappy.
Potential client: Wait, but if you don't pay out anything for a district-wide fire, nobody gets any money, except you, and then someone burns down your shop. How is that good for anyone, including you?
Neme: Oh, we might pay out a bit on a catastrophic event, if you've opted for the catastrophic clause. It costs more, and it's not really worth it. But, that's up to you.
Dr. C: Yeah, we don't pay the full value. But anyone who opts in will get a little, even if it's the entire district. It costs us, but there's that sharing thing.
Neme: But everyone's gonna hurt. Including us. But for the little things -- your place getting robbed ---
Dr. C: When you and Hugh aren't there --
Neme: Or maybe an inside job. As long as it's not too inside. You can't arrange your own losses.
Dr. C: Yeah, at that point, we talk to Larry, and if Larry can't help -- which he almost certainly can. He's really very reasonable -- then we just don't pay you.
Neme: Yeah, that's in the contract too. Look, just think of us as a gambling parlour. Except, instead of hoping to win --
Dr. C: By which he means get paid because your stuff got messed with.
Neme: Instead, you hope to lose. Which is to say, you pay us a small amount for insurance, you don't get anything back, but you don't lose anything either. Your money protected you. You paid for safety and your stuff was safe.
Dr. C: And this money we get. Yeah, sure, we got living expenses. Sure, we got... little luxuries, let's call 'em. But most of that money? We invest it.
Neme: That way, your money's still doing work. Your premiums --
Dr. C: That means payments.
Neme: Yeah, they stay low. And no one, which is to say us, gets chased by an unhappy mob.
Dr. C: Yeah, we hate unhappy mobs.
Neme: Mutual, I'm sure. We'll even ensure things that aren't business. Like, your life, for instance.
Dr. C: Yeah, Hugh can stop a swordsman.
Neme: But he can't stop age. And sickness.
Dr. C: Or tripping over a broken cobble and breaking your ankle.
Neme: No, that's medical insurance. We're not touching that. But, we'll even offer some free advice on how to protect your investment. After all, once you've bought insurance from us, your risk is our risk as well.
Dr. C: Yeah, we don't want to pay you. That means we really don't want you to get robbed. Or to have a fire. So, we go out there, we say, maybe, "Your lock is crap."
Neme: And if you replace it, we'll give you a cheaper premium.
Dr. C: We can recommend people, but it boils down to the quality of the lock. Yeah, we get the usual from someone we recommend, and we will recommend the best we know -- because it's our risk too -- but if you know someone as good or better, it still lowers your risk, and that lowers our risk.
Potential Client: There's just one thing I don't understand. If I pay you money for years, nothing bad ever happens, that's not you doing anything. That's luck. But I'm still out the money, because you don't give it back.
Neme: True, but if no one ever attacks you because Hugh is really good at his job, he's not giving you your money back either.
(Hugh shakes his head emphatically.)
Neme: But just like Hugh, we're giving you something you can trust in. Trust, for the future.
Dr. C: So, that guy with Hugh, what was his name again?
Dr. C: Oh, of course.
(Enter Potential Client #2, who's heard about this from someone else)
Potential Client #2: ...and so, I'm trying to find out if this is real.
Dr. C: Oh yes. I mean, we're talking about a lot of hypotheticals, but the money's real. Risk is real.
Neme: Yeah, exactly. And technically, we're not selling you anything.
Potential Client #2: How do you figure that?
Neme: We're buying. We're buying your risk.
Potential Client #2: You want my risk?
Neme: No, absolutely not. Nobody wants your risk. You don't want your risk. We don't want your risk. You'd have to pay us to take it. Which is basically what you're doing.