Editor’s note: Today’s editorial originally was written by Jeff Ackerman of the Wenatchee World. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
My daughter just bought $400 worth of meat from a door-to-door salesman.
I know...where is the parenting?
“Hey, dad. I just did something really stupid,” my 26-year-old dancer/daughter said when she called Thursday afternoon from Vancouver.
Last time she began a sentence that way, she was calling from an intersection, where she’d just crashed my Land Cruiser into a fire hydrant. “Do we have insurance?”
My children have lived a fairly protected life. I’ve spent my career running small-town community newspapers because I didn’t want to raise my kids in cities where murders don’t warrant front page coverage.
I was raised in a big city and was mugged by the time I was 11. They took my scout ring and bus fare. A cop gave me change for the phone booth so I could call my dad.
“What do you want me to do about it?” he asked. “I told you a hundred times not to walk down that street.”
My dad was not exactly a Scout Master.
“You did what?” I asked my daughter, not wanting to sound like my dad.
“This guy knocked on the door and he was selling meat. He wanted me to buy the $976 package, but I told him I couldn’t afford to spend that much on meat, so I bought the smaller package.”
I should pause here to say my daughter is a college graduate. I know that because her tuition is the reason I’m still working. The flip side is that she majored in dance at the University of Oregon.
When she was in school, I’d send her the Classified section of my paper with a note asking if she could find any “dancers wanted” ads, suggesting that she might want a backup plan. “They say there will be a big demand for healthcare professionals,” I advised.
“She’s pursuing her dream,” my wife would say. “Leave her alone.”
My wife — rest her beautiful soul — was the heart of the family. I was the wallet and entertainer. I knew my role and my boundaries.
“So were you planning on buying $400 worth of meat from the trunk of a car when you woke up this morning?” I asked. I could tell that she was looking for affirmation and not a lecture. “I mean...you don’t really eat that much meat, do you?”
“I know, right?” she said. “I just didn’t want to be rude. What should I have said?”
I’ve always been fairly quick on my feet when it comes to door-to-door meat salesmen.
“I’m a vegan and I just got out of prison for beating a meat salesman with the lid of my Weber barbecue.”
“Seriously, dad! I’m not good at shutting people down. The guy was sweating and I could tell he really needed the money.”
Then I tried to explain the Law of The Jungle.
“Every morning the lion and the antelope wake up and the race is on to eat or be eaten,” I said. “Do you want to be the lion or the antelope?”
I got that from an episode of Animal Kingdom one night and have used it at least 23 times in sales meetings.
In fact...while I’m at it...I should track down the meat salesman. If he can sell ribs from his trunk, I wonder how many ads he could sell for The World?
“Shut up, dad. I’m serious. I feel bad and now my whole freezer is full of meat.”
“How did you pay?” I asked, cringing as I waited for the answer I knew was coming.
“With my debit card,” she said.
This is a good time to pause. We all know what my next question should be, but some of us would be hesitant to ask because...well...we love our children and want to always assume the best.
I took the bait.
“Did you give him your PIN number?”
“Dad! I’m not stupid! Of course I didn’t give him the PIN number!”
Just her driver’s license.
By way of review, I reminded my daughter that it’s never a good idea to buy meat from a stranger because...well...you don’t know where he came from and...more important...where the meat came from.
It’s basically a scam. They shrink wrap packages of “mystery meat” and stick it into boxes to make it look like it’s actually been inspected by someone who knows the difference between a cow and a horse. They can sell $400 worth of it because it’s only worth $25 and when you finally eat some of it and spend the next day on the toilet, the salesman is 300 miles away and has changed his name to Fred.
They get away with it because the country is full of dancers who buy rotten meat from strangers because they’re too nice to say, “I’m a vegan and ex-felon, so take your meat and get off my porch before I smack you with my Weber lid.”