I couldn't sell ice water in hell, and not because my conscience prevents me from profiting from another person's pain.
In fact, I'm fairly certain that were my life to depend upon getting some thirsty soul to pony up a few pennies for a drink, I'd be pushing up daisies in short order.
Weighing the value of time and energy against the perception of a finished commodity has long made me uncomfortable. It might all boil down to the fact that I hate to ask for money. I'm much better at forking it over one paycheck at a time.
My daughter, on the other hand, is at the age where there is no better use of her playtime than selling some chunk of rubbish to an unsuspecting neighbor.
The wily world of finance has her rapt attention: "This lovely piece of crystal can be yours for only five cents," she calls over the fence toward Sunday strollers.
She's always working some angle.
It was a beautiful day; the first in weeks in which people ventured out of their houses on foot. Just the sight of all the people walking past our house gave Ittybit hope that her shop would be a wild success.
Behind the fence ... yards from the road and sidewalk ... she continued to hawk her wares.
"We got rocks. Lots of rocks. ... and crystals ... Pretty crystals for sale. Five cents a pieces. Buy one get one free. Pay no money down ... Just a nickel. That's it, just a thin nickel. Give us a quarter and we'll give you back two dimes. That's 20 whole cents you'll get back. ... It's the bargain of the day."
"Get yer rocks here. We got yer rocks here."
It was all so intoxicating to her as she gathered supplies and readied her shop for the onslaught. She lined up her wares — two dozen ancient wine bottle corks, a handful of gravel and two chunks of driveway sheared off during winter plowing — and set them in neat little rows.
Repetitively she pawed through a tin box full of change and separated each coin by denomination.
"There is so much to do," she fretted, as she taped a few cardboard signs to the fence.
"5 cents per cristal!!!!!" and "Get your rocks here, cheep!!!!"
A few kind souls ventured down the length of driveway where the shop stood a safe distance from traffic. They exchanged a few nickels for rocks.
Emboldened by the transaction, she taped another sign to a pencil and handed it to The Champ.
"Your job is to walk back and forth with the sign. Don't forget to hold it up."
He waved the piece of cardboard in front of my face. Crossed out was: "We have ALL colors" In its place read: "We have RED rocks."
I turned and saw that all the colors of the rainbow had spilled out onto the driveway.
She watches me look at the puddle of paint.
"Sorry. Will it come out?"
Yes. It will come out ... of your profits," I say with a laugh and a faux stern look.
"Ok ... but the rest I'm donating to charity."
Turns out she's not terribly fond of profiting from another person's pain either.