Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lesson Learned

Every week or so I get a phone call at my shop from one or more businesses that are trying to sell me ad space on sports calendars, t-shirts and the like, ostensibly to support one of the local high schools. ("Local" seems to be loosely defined by these people; some of the schools they want me to support are a two-hour drive away from our town.) I always blow them off as soon as possible; typically the cost for the ad is exorbitant, and I'd rather support the local schools by contributing directly to them-- at least that way I know the money is going where it should.

My wife tends to feel more sympathetic toward these people than I do; after all, she says, they're just trying to make a living. One time, in response to just that sentiment, I told this story from my misspent youth.

Forty years ago, after a major argument with my parents, I left home with only the clothes on my back. I hopped on a bus and went downtown, to what was then the 'bohemian' part of Baltimore. Being the practical sixteen-year-old that I was, I immediately set out to find both shelter and a job; as this was after dark on a Sunday night, my prospects were looking a little bleak.

While talking with the owner of a local head shop, I was interrupted by a local denizen of the neighborhood, who suggested that I could earn a decent living by panhandling.

I demurred. "Hey it's easy," he said. "All you have to do is go up to people and ask them if they have any spare change. Try it!"

"OK, I will. Got any spare change?"

"F__k off!"

"Why'd you say that to me? I was just trying out my pitch, just like you said!"

"Well, you gotta learn how to handle rejection."

I have taken this lesson to heart, and it has served me well over the years.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Seventeen Minutes and Five Seconds

Last month while I was in Houston, I bought a little music box that plays "My Funny Valentine" when you turn the crank. I gave it to my wife today. She really likes it, which is a good thing, 'cause the one that plays "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" wouldn't have fit into my suitcase.