|Posted by BigBlackHatMan on April 19, 2012 at 1:00 AM|
This is a story I wrote a while back and published on TGWTG, so a few may recognize it. I thought I would take another stab at this sort of satire and see if anyone things I should write some more stuff like this. Thanks!
The Economy of Eighty-Seven Cents
As I walked gingerly down the street, I came upon a hobo sitting along the sidewalk. He looked up at me with the sad eyes of a defeated man and said, “Sir, could you spare some change?” The concept took me aback. Can I spare any change? What is wrong with me the way I am? Do I need to change?
Fortunately, it occurred to me that he was referring to monetary change. I was holding eighty-seven cents in my pocket. I retorted, “My good man, I have eighty-seven cents, but why should I give you what I have earned?”
The man looked up. He considered my premise with a very thoughtful consideration and responded, “Dear sir, you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to earn the money, but I am unemployed. I have no such advantage.”
“In this case, my dear sir, I should not give you the money, but give you the chance to earn it fairly.”
The man considered this. He clearly rolled the idea over in his mind many times over and began to question the concept. “What work earns eighty-seven cents?”
This was an excellent question. It could not be much as most jobs pay more than eighty-seven cents an hour to perform a task. Minimum wage is currently $7.45, but since this was an off the books, non-taxable service, was minimum wage the requirement? Would the IRS come after me? Do they have a form? Are their employees really servants of the devil himself sent to destroy us all? The last one seemed a bit speculative.
I quickly whipped out my phone and used the calculator function. Eighty-seven cents is about 11.6% of an hour’s wage. This worked out to about seven minutes of work. So, that meant I would require seven minutes of service for the money. I proceeded to explain the situation to the hobo.
“That hardly seems fair!” He declared this in such a manner it took me by surprise.
“I’m sorry; sir, but I did the math. What is your problem with that?”
“Why must I take minimum wage? Perhaps, I have experience in the task at hand which makes me a specialist. A specialist makes better wages. This will also probably be a service which means a gratuity is expected. How will you compensate me in this manner with your set amount of money depleted? We must haggle.”
I was irritated. We had not even agreed on a service yet, and he now wishes to squabble over the compensation. “Sir! I have no proof of your skills. I don’t suppose you are carrying a resume with you.”
Much to my shock, he was. I reviewed carefully to see a history of temporary employments with varied results. He even had two letters of referral. One letter was from a man who claimed that no one had ever cleaned his gutters better and another referring to an excellent stretch as a substitute for a fallen mailbox post. I had to admit that he seemed wonderfully qualified for the position. I had to reconsider my position.
“Given you qualifications, I would be glad to reduce the time from seven to six minutes.”
“I will settle for no less than four minutes.”
“Why don’t about we settle at the round number of five minutes? That way we will both be satisfied.”
The man tilted his head back and considered the proposition. I saw in his eyes that he fully intended to take the offer, but could not look weak in a position of negotiation in case another were to come along and underbid his valuable services. He pursed his lips and returned his gaze to me. “That is acceptable. What will the task be?”
I considered this. In the course of the negotiation, I had not considered this. I really did not require any service. I was just out for a walk. I was getting tired though.
“Perhaps you could carry me for five minutes.”
“Who will pay my medical bills for the massive hernia I get?”
I was not sure if this was a fat joke or not, but I decided to let it go. The negotiations would only break down further if personal insult were considered at this point. I looked him up and down. Another solution came to my mind.
“Look here, dear sir. I have a few more blocks to reach my car so that I can head home. The blocks in front of me are notorious for having gentlemen of your ilk asking for funds to take care of basic needs, and I find this terribly upsetting. (No offense.) Perhaps, you could make sure I am unmolested as I walk these few blocks. If I do not reach my destination in the five minutes, I will risk it on my own, but I will pay you the full amount if we reach it a little early.”
The man made a consideration of this proposition. “I am familiar with many of the folks in this neighborhood. I am sure I could handle such a task.” He looked down the block. “Are you parked in the corner lot?”
“Yes, if it is agreeable, the clock starts now.”
The man agreed, and we walked the few blocks together. As some of the other hobos attempted to molest me in some way, my employee shuffled them aside and quickly explained the situation. The walk was very agreeable. He proved himself to be very much worth the money I intended to pay him. We reached the parking lot in around four and half minutes, and I was so pleased that I was not worried about the lost thirty seconds. I removed the eighty-seven cents from my pocket and handed it to the man.
“Thank you, sir. I want to point out that I was forced to spend much more than five minutes with you as we negotiated for easily twice that length.”
I realized he was right, but I quickly came up with a solution for the problem. “Dear, sir. I understand your vexation, but I am the employer. I cannot compensate for time spent negotiating a contract. You have to appeal to your union representative for that as labor always handles compensation for time in contract dispute.”
With this, I jumped in my car and sped off satisfied that the transaction had gone well. I did wonder if I had come out ahead. It may suit me to contact my lawyer on the next occasion as his one hundred dollar an hour fee is most reasonable. I hate to be cheated.