All of the characters we’ll see in the pages to come live on the 11th floor of a big downtown apartment building. After a big block party (celebrating Garret’s 39th birthday – we’ll meet Garret shortly) they all agreed to participate in a new initiative: The 11th Floor Saturday Meeting. Sri Humana proposed the initiative. In brief, his idea was to hold weekly meetings where each week one of the neighbors would share a personal problem with the group, in hopes that at least one group member could provide some useful advice to help resolve it.

And now, here’s the group:

The Hudsons The average familyJohn, 35 years old, is an IT specialist with a bachelor’s degree from M.I.T., works at a medium-sized IT company. Sarah is 36 years old; she is a housewife who also works at the family’s independent grocery store. Max is John and Sarah’s 10-year-old son; he likes rap music, sports and astronomy. Emily, John’s 6-year-old sister, likes to dance and spy on her brother.

The Hudsons live in one of the building’s smaller apartments. The kids go to the nearest school. Sarah stayed home for years, raising the kids, but now she has enough spare time to do some outside work. She and John decided to open a small grocery store, which Sarah would run. The store would target green-thinking local customers, offering a limited selection of healthy vegetables and fruits sourced from local farmers.

Thomas – The shy scientist – Thomas wears glasses and doesn’t use a comb. He tends to be future-oriented, but is generally uncertain, insecure, and doesn’t communicate well with others. When he does engage in conversation, he tends to speak in a scientific way. He comes from a rich family that still supports him financially. After graduating from college with degrees in physics and statistics, he worked for a couple of years at the National Statistical Agency. Recently he earned an MBA degree online and is now looking for a science-oriented job in the field of Behavioral Economics.

Sri HumanaThe positive-thinking guru – Mature and relaxed, Sri Humana has the appearance of an elder wise man. When expressing himself, he favors vague words connected in very reasonable ways, speaking slowly, clearly, and with passion. He wears a charming smile – except when in front of a camera. He is spiritual, practicing both yoga and meditation, and is a firm believer in his own philosophy (at times with the help of self-delusion), which focuses on holistic, existential and philosophical questions and themes. Sri Humana works as a spiritual leader of rich and confused people; among his client-followers are actors, rap stars and sports figures – as well as a few bankrupted businessmen and the lazy wives of their successful friends. He preaches Intelligent Design and likes to argue his holistic ideas with the help of abstract and sophisticated scientific theories such as quantum mechanics.

GarretThe lucky bastard – Garret has a well-paid job as CFO of a medium-sized, publicly-traded financial company. He is confident, handsome, smart, and a gambler, surrounded by beautiful girls. Viewing himself as better than others and showing it in his attitudes. He focuses on the now, and is aggressive in his actions – with strategies to “conquer it all.” He enjoys games, sports, and competition of all sorts, as well as “adrenalin experiences” like sky-diving and base jumping.

Ann  – The arrogant bitch – Ann has a well-paid job as Sales Executive for a celebrity magazine. She is now-focused, confident, attractive and fashion-conscious, with new breast implants and years of experience seducing men to advance her career. Like Garret, she thinks she is better than others, and her attitude shows it. She is manipulative – able to turn on the tears at will, and shift her philosophic views opportunistically to serve her current interests.

So, why do we need fictitious characters to explore ideas about material wealth? Because it’s fun to use them and can be quite illustrative. I shall use them now and then, just for the sake of presenting ideas in a more human way.