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Thursday, January 19, 2006

“But you are NOT working…”

Side-note to those who are waiting for a Flight 93 update: Superintendent Hanley has had my report for two weeks now. She says she has read it and is thinking about what her response will be. If she agrees that the Flight 93 families and the others involved in the Memorial Project need to see my information and she distributes it to them and she schedules a teleconference where I can go over the information with them, I will probably agree to sit on the report for another couple of weeks. If the next shoe that drops is that Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton has signed off on Murdoch’s terrorist-memorial-mosque design, it means Superintendent Hanley duped me, pretending to distribute my information while pushing the project ahead without it. If she does that, we all have to be prepared to raise unholy hell.

“But you are NOT working…”

It is always a dilemma, when these charity cases masquerading as salesmen knock on the door. Do I not bother to answer? Do I shoo them away? Or do I try to tell them the truth?

They actually think they are working. Their pitch is that they are learning to work, and they certainly are toiling, keeping the patter up against all odds, turn-down after turn-down after turn-down. It is always young blacks. Sometimes the pitch is that if you will buy through them, they can get a scholarship. Sometimes it’s just “I’m out here learning to be a salesman,” but it’s never just a sales pitch. It always tries to engage sympathy for the solicitor.

He probably doesn’t know any better, so I try to instruct him: “Just tell me what you’re selling and I’ll tell you if I’m in the market.” “Well I’m from Dallas and…” “Uh uh,” I cut him off: “Just tell me what you’re selling.” “Magazines.” “And are you going to offer me a lower subscription price than I’m already getting?” “But that wouldn’t help me…” “I’m not looking to help you,” I cut him off again: “I’m looking for you to help me. That’s how people make money. They offer value that other people are willing to pay them for.” “But wouldn’t you rather have me here working…” Again I have to cut him off: “But you are NOT working! You’re asking for charity.” “No, I’m not allowed to take charity,” he protests, and I am obliged to correct him. “When you say: ‘do it for me,’ not ‘do it for you,’ that’s charity.”

He’s used to being put off, and is used to remaining undaunted by it, but I am determined to get through: “A real job is when you get paid for creating value for others. There is no value creation here. You’re not offering me a better deal. You’re offering me a worse deal. You are being misled about what working is. This isn’t the path.”

“You have a good day sir,” he backs away from me, “you have a good day.”

“Just gotta keep my head up,” he says to himself as he turns down the sidewalk, adding a skip and a whistle for good measure, and I have to admire his pluck. He probably will learn some positive things from this rejection-filled experience. I hope part of what he learns is what I tried to tell him: it’s only work if it’s about value to others.

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