Alan J. Schwarz
5 min readApr 5, 2020

Herbert Mendix didn’t like being in quarantine. He loved working at his office and interacting with clients. He loved to travel and to be outside, he especially loved going to his Island retreat.

The Advertising business had been very good to Mendix, Little, and Monahan. The truth was there was no Little or Monahan, Herbert just thought the title gave him gravitas in the industry and he was right.

MLM was considered one of the ‘’go to’’ firms when it came to Branding and getting a message out for clients. Herbert had built his firm from one person to over two hundred employees in different countries around the world.

One of the things Herbert did was establish a nice office in the Maldives and have much of his personal money sent to an off shore account there.

Herbert paid his taxes in Canada, but he made sure he had a very large tax free amount salted away, for his retirement days. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he had been forced to close all the MLM offices and his liquidity was taking a massive hit. He had talked to Advertising and Marketing Directors at his major clients but they weren’t very reassuring. Half of them were asking Herbert if he’d have jobs for them after the Corona siege ended. They weren’t sure that they would still be employed when life reverted back to normal. Budgets would be dramatically slashed and it would almost be like starting over.

The only things that gave Herbert any solace was the fact he liked his house, he could write his memoir while in self-isolation with his dog Lucky, and could work on campaigns for some of MLM’s clients who were focused on the digital world. There was one other thing, his offshore account. No matter what happened to his business, he knew he had ten million American dollars stashed. That would ensure a high level of comfort for the rest of his life. The only problem was he had no way to physically reach it. With borders closed, there would be no travel for quite a period of time.

Herbert was reading an article in Wired Magazine about the advances hackers were making in breaking into offshore banks when he decided to check on his account. He used his password and received a message that read ‘’Unauthorized Access Attempted’’.

There was a couple of seconds of feeling faint, when Herbert tried again. The message read ‘’Unauthorized Access Attempted’.

Herbert knew one more attempt without getting in would mean a lock out for twenty four hours. If he didn’t get the Password accepted in his next attempts, he would have to go to the bank in person to change it, which was not feasible, and would result in all his money being in limbo land, if it was still there at all.

Mendix went to his briefcase and removed a slip of paper which read ‘’Federal Dominion Royal Bank, Elite customer service line +960 666 3109 . He dialed the number and was shocked to receive a message that he had never heard before. ‘’To our Elite Customers, due to the spread of Covid-19 we have locked down our bank, which means there can be no commercial services or transactions for the next fifteen days. If you have any concerns or problems, please email us at

In a matter of seconds Herbert sent a note asking if there were any issues reported regarding their online banking. The response came minutes later ‘’The bank will get back to you as soon as we are fully operational. Thank You for your query.’’ That was it, finito benito.

After making himself a couple of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, Herbert paced around, wondering what he should do. He felt nauseous and went to the bathroom but nothing came up. It was all dry heaving. He said to himself that he had to get a grip, it would all resolve itself in the right way.

Herbert decided to give it one more try and entered his password only to receive the ‘’Unauthorized Access Attempted.’’ He stopped trying and felt completely paralyzed. He would have to wait twenty four long hours.

He started thinking about things, it was the perfect crime. He was in quarantine, his money was thousands of miles away, and there was no way he could access it.

After taking a look at his Canadian accounts, Herbert figured out with his RRSP’s he had three hundred and forty thousand dollars. His house was worth one million four hundred thousand, and his cottage would fetch about seven hundred and fifty thousand. So, in total if he liquidated he would have a couple of million which wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t ten million American either.

That night when Herbert went to bed, he made a vow. If he ever got his money back, he would bring home five or six million and pay taxes on it. He would donate generously to charity, especially to those on the front lines fighting Covid-19 and he would become more of a philanthropist. What losing his money had taught him was that if you don’t use it, it is no good. Herbert also had some Nephews and Nieces and Great Nephews and Great Nieces and he decided he would make sure and set up nice trusts for them if he ever got his money back.

That night Herbert tossed and turned. He was thinking about liabilities for his company, he would have to talk to his Lawyers. It was a very complex situation. The Corona Virus had really wrecked life and created havoc.

Herbert woke up very early and found he had no success working on his memoir, all he kept thinking was I should write a chapter called I’m a putz. He watched the clock and time moved very slowly.

Finally twenty four hours passed, and he went to his online banking site. He started to put in the password and stopped. It hit him like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t working because he had changed it. He had been at an Advertising conference and the discussion was how to prevent hacks, and one of the things that was suggested was a symbol should be placed at the beginning, middle and end of the password.

Herbert immediately entered his password with the symbols (ampersands) and much to his delight and relief the account opened showing a balance of ten million six hundred thousand and sixty dollars. It was all there in the ether. Herbert let out a long sigh of relief.

After signing out of the account Herbert went and poured himself a glass of scotch and with his dog Lucky at his side, made a small toast. He had learned a very important lesson in isolation. He was going to become more of a giver.

His next bit of business was to survive the Covid-19 pandemic and figure out the future for his Ad Agency. He had time to process everything now. As he got back to his memoir he knew that there would be one new chapter added ‘’Never take anything for granted and be grateful when things work out as expected.’’

That night in quarantine Herbert lied on his bed with Lucky beside him thinking one main thought, never jump to conclusions and appreciate everything you have. In a blink of an eye life can change in more ways that one could possibly ever imagine.



Alan J. Schwarz

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.