There used to be a guy who would come to my office once a week, asking me for money.
I don’t usually tolerate such solicitations, but this guy’s consistently appealing pitch was impressive.
“ Listen, I gotta sit- eation, Mr. Len,” he would begin. It’s a good idea to address someone as “ Mr.” when begging for money, unless it’s a woman ( a mistake I made with my banker). “ I need $ 4.75. Our dog chewed up my sister’s shoes. Her favorite shoes she was wanting to wear to the ballgame tomorrow night. My mama gave me $ 20 to buy the same kind of shoes, but they cost $ 24.75 down at the dollar store. I wouldn’t ask you normally, but her cousin is playing a solo in the band and she really wants to see it. She’s seven years old, and if she can’t go the ballgame because she don’t have no shoes, she’s gonna cry herself to sleep for a week.”
Perhaps he was telling the truth. If so, my philanthropy was certainly needed to stop a 7- year- old girl from crying for a week. Of course, he may also have been lying. If so, his lie was so creative, it deserved $ 4.75.
And every week, he would come up with an equally compelling, inventive reason why he needed a pittance from me. He needed $ 6.50 to make the last payment on a gold tooth or his girlfriend was going to break up with him and join the Army. He wouldn’t ask normally, but he needed $ 5.20 to buy baby formula and food for his cousin’s baby, who he was babysitting while his cousin was at “ driver education school.” Each week, his stories became more and more engrossing and absurd. Then, he just stopped coming around.
I’ve never witnessed any co- workers or employees use such inspired device to get out of working, but I’ve heard some whoppers.
One comes from my brother- in- law, who runs a small manufacturing operation in middle Georgia.
A female worker came into his office recently, sat down and said, “ Mr. Gary, I’m gonna need a week off,” obviously privy to the unwritten rule about the use of “ Mr.” in such negotiations. “ What for?” “ I’ve got a serious medical problem,” she said.
Concerned, my brotherin- law asked, “ What kind of medical problem?”
“ Well, something’s wrong with my kidneys,” she said. “ What exactly?” “ Well, it’s real bad,” she said. “ I’m urinating blue.”
Gary was perplexed for a moment, then remembered that he had recently put those blue tablets in the company toilets.
“ Why do you think you need a week off?” He said, hiding a smirk.
“ Well, Mr. Gary, I’ve had something like this before, and I know it’s gonna take at least a week to clear it up,” she responded.
I don’t think he gave her the week off, but I would have — just for coming up with that gem.