This is a story of timely relevance. It is about a hot dog vendor who could have made it big. He almost did, but then he lost his nerve. This man, lets call him Fred, suffered from poor eyesight, so he didn’t watch television or read the newspapers. He was also hard of hearing, so he didn’t listen to the radio either. But he made good hot dogs.
Every morning, at the crack of dawn, Fred visited the market where he stocked up with the best-quality sausages and the freshest rolls available. And before office commuters hit the streets on their way to work, he took up his position at a busy intersection.
“Lovely morning, Sir, don’t you want to buy a hot dog?” he would say when a man passed by. “You look especially lovely today, Madam, don’t you want to buy a hot dog?”he would call out to passing females. And because his stall looked clean and inviting and the smells that emanated from his sausage cooker were seductive, few passers-by could not resist.
Business was brisk, but Fred wanted more. He had a banner made that advertised his hot dogs and put it up between two street poles every morning. This meant that he had to get out of bed even earlier each day, but he didn’t mind because it drove sales upwards.
Incredible as it may sound, Fred made enough money from his hot dog stand that he could put his son through university followed by an MBA. When the boy had completed his studies, father and son set down to discuss the future. “You know, son,” Fred said, “I have never told anyone this but it has always been my dream to set up a chain of hot dog stands across the city, and perhaps even in cities and towns around the country. There could even be teams of part-timers to cover sporting events.
“Everyone loves good hot dogs, so I know that there is a market out there but I have never acted on my dream because, truth be told, I don’t think that I have the skills needed to manage a real big business. With you on my side, it would be a different ballgame, so what do you say?”
“You must be out of your mind, dad!” said the youngster. “Don’t you know that there is a recession on? People are losing their jobs, businesses are closing down everywhere and everyone who has a chance to leave the country does so. And in this climate do you want to expand?”
Fred was shocked to the core. He had spent his time selling hotdogs and business had been brisk as usual. He was so busy that he hadn’t even noticed that there was a recession brewing. But he reasoned that as his son had gone to university, was watching television, reading newspapers and listening to the radio, he must know what’s going on in the world.
This realization depressed Fred. He no longer bothered to put up his banner, and he stopped greeting people and inviting them to buy a hot dog. “What’s the use?” he reasoned, “there is a recession on, so people won’t buy anyway!” And quite soon, people stopped buying. The pile of sausages and bread rolls left over at the end of each day grew bigger; at first, Fred would give the leftovers away for free, but he soon started to keep them for the next day.
Eventually, Fred decided that it was no longer worth his while to run the hot dog stand. “My son was absolutely right” he said to himself, “there really is a recession on; I might as well cut my losses and pack up before I lose everything!”
What do you think? Is it time to give up? Of course not!
© 2012 Jeff Solomon, MAS – MASI