Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Eastpointer

Franklin County Business Watch

By Richard E. Noble

If you are about to open a small business be prepared to meet members of The Franklin County Business Watch.
I don’t know if they are a Fraternal Organization, like the Elks or the Moose or the Knights of Columbus, or what, but you can be sure they will be there. They will pop into your business even before you open, just to check you out. They usually make some excuse - like they need to use a bathroom, but what they really want to know is what the hell you are up to, and what makes you so foolish to think that you could ever open anything here in this wilderness that could be successful.
When you finally open your small business, members of this Business Watch will drop in all the time to inform you of the number of cars that are parked at your competition; or to inform you that they were just at your biggest competitor and had a wonderful time and, of course, so did the rest of the community who were ALL there.
They usually try their best to order or buy nothing. Their main goal is to take up as much room as they possibly can. If they get your attention, they will show you their last operation scar, pictures of their grand baby, their son in uniform or they might want you to go outside and take a look at their new car - or pet ... or new baby gorilla.
Sometimes they just drop in to say hello and give their kids a place to play for an hour or so.
If you sell food, just before they sit down to eat, they will tell you how they recently got food poisoning at the best, most successful eatery in the community, and had to be rushed to Weems at two o’clock in the morning to have their stomach pumped; after which they usually ask if what they are about to order is fresh or frozen, or prepared today. But usually they just want a large glass of water with lots of ice, and don’t be afraid to charge them for it, they advise.
If you do charge them, they will either give you a thousand dollar bill, ask if you’ll take a personal check, or run out to their car for an hour, gathering change up off the floor, but all the while remembering to leave someone inside apologizing in a loud voice for not having the money ... TO PAY FOR THE GLASS OF WATER.
They always need desperately something that you don’t have: a Band-Aid, aspirin, high-beam headlight bulb, or an emergency room intravenous feeding machine.
“Do you really make any money here?” is a common Business Watch Group question.
Sometimes they will walk in, holding their knee painfully, asking if you have insurance. Other times they just like to stop out in front of your place for a family picnic, or to wash and dry a few of the baby’s diapers on your picnic tables or drop off last week’s trash in your dumpster.
They love to use your business phone to make hotel reservation in Dallas, or to call back home to find out how Elmer is coming with his Chemo.
If you manage to keep the doors open for more than a year and take in more money than you pay out for a month or two, they spread the rumor that you have more money than God, and are one of the cheapest S.O.B.’s that was ever born.
If one of your employees falls down or cuts themselves in front of one of them, they usually have a good supply of business cards from personal injury lawyers who they are related to and that just happen to live near-by.
But, let me be the first to wish you the best of luck on your new business idea. By the way, why are you opening a business anyway? Are you just trying to hide some cash from the IRS or do you seriously think that this foolish notion of yours has some kind of remote possibility of being a success? Do you know that one out of every five small businesses in America fail in the first year? That’s about the same success rate as marriage. How long have you been married anyway? Are you prepared to end your marriage if this business gets difficult? But seriously, is there something wrong with you? Are you incapable of working for other people? Are you too stupid or obstinate to get a real job? Do you hear voices? Don’t believe what they say. Take it from me, you are just crazy!

Richard E. Noble has been an “Eastpointer” for around thirty years now. He has authored two books: “A Summer with Charlie” which is currently listed on and “Hobo-ing America” which should be listed on Amazon in the not too distant future. Most recently he completed his first novel “Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother” which will be published soon.