Yuks for Bucks: Gene Revolutionizes Panhandling
WASHINGTON -- I'm sitting at my dining room table, counting out a tidy pile of cash generated under a bold new business model of my invention; I am feeling the way Henry Ford must have felt when he saw that first assembly line rumble into action.
I just made $71 in a little more than three hours of easy, skill-free work, which extrapolates to about $42,000 a year. Subtracting federal, state and municipal taxes -- applied entirely on the honor system, because this is off-the-books earnings -- were talking about a yearly take-home of roughly, lessee, carry the six ... $41,870 a year. Not bad for a panhandler!
Yes, I panhandled for three hours, but not in the commonly understood way. Panhandlers tend to have imperfect business plans: haphazard strategy, inadequate diction, off-putting personal atmospherics, etc. Mostly, though, what they lack is a product. The Weingarten Business Plan, coming soon to a bookstore near you, doesn't expect the client to pay something for nothing.
Hi, I'm panhandling, I said to my first prospective customer, a pleasant-looking, middle-age guy hanging out near a train station. His name is Ed. If I can make you laugh, will you give me a dollar?
Ed smiled, reached for his wallet.
You already did, kind of. But go ahead.
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Because they have big fingers!
Ed ponied up the buck. He didn't love the joke, he said, but he appreciated the creativity of my approach and said I didn't look like I was the kind of guy who would use the money for booze. I wasn't crazy about that last reason: For my business model to take off, it has to work for anyone. I had to eliminate the variable of charm and see if it still worked.