Two college-age boys, unaware that making money usually involves hard work, are tempted by an advertisement that promises them an easy way to earn a lot of money. The boys soon learn that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
BIG BUCKS THE EASY WAY
John G. Hubbell
"You ought to look into this," I suggested to our two college-age sons. "It might be a way to avoid the indignity of having to ask for money all the time." I handed them some magazines in a plastic bag someone bad hung on our doorknob. A message printed on the bag offered leisurely, lucrative work ("Big Bucks the Easy Way!") of delivering more such bags.
"I don't mind the indignity," the older one answered.
"I can live with it," his brother agreed.
"But it pains me," I said，"to find that you both have been panhandling so long that it no longer embarrasses you."
The boys said they would look into the magazine-delivery thing. Pleased, I left town on a business trip. By midnight I was comfortably settled in a hotel room far from home. The phone rang. It was my wife. She wanted to know how my day had gone.
"Great!" I enthused. "How was your day?" I inquired.
"Super!" She snapped. "Just super! And it's only getting started. Another truck just pulled up out front."
"The third one this evening. The first delivered four thousand Montgomery Wards. The second brought four thousand Sears, Roebucks. I don't know what this one has, but I'm sure it will be four thousand of something. Since you are responsible, I thought you might like to know what's happening.
What I was being blamed for, it turned out, was a newspaper strike which made it necessary to hand-deliver the advertising inserts that normally are included with the Sunday paper. The company had promised our boys $600 for delivering these inserts to 4,000 houses by Sunday morning.
"Piece of cake!" our older college son had shouted.
" Six hundred bucks!" His brother had echoed, "And we can do the job in two hours!"
"Both the Sears and Ward ads are four newspaper-size pages," my wife informed me. "There are thirty-two thousand pages of advertising on our porch. Even as we speak, two big guys are carrying armloads of paper up the walk. What do we do about all this?"
"Just tell the boys to get busy," I instructed. "They're college men. They'll do what they have to do."
At noon the following day I returned to the hotel and found an urgent message to telephone my wife. Her voice was unnaturally high and quavering. There had been several more truckloads of ad inserts. "They're for department stores, dime stores, drugstores, grocery stores, auto stores and so on. Some are whole magazine sections. We have hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of pages of advertising here! They are crammed wall-to-wall all through the house in stacks taller than your oldest son. There's only enough room for people to walk in, take one each of the eleven inserts, roll them together, slip a rubber band around them and slide them into a plastic bag. We have enough plastic bags to supply every takeout restaurant in America!" Her voice kept rising, as if working its way out of the range of the human ear. "All this must be delivered by seven o'clock Sunday morning."
"Well, you had better get those guys banding and sliding as fast as they can, and I'll talk to you later. Got a lunch date.
When I returned, there was another urgent call from my wife.
"Did you have a nice lunch?" she asked sweetly. I had had a marvelous steak, but knew better by now than to say so.
"Awful," I reported. "Some sort of sour fish. Eel, I think."
"Good. Your college sons have hired their younger brothers and sisters and a couple of neighborhood children to help for five dollars each. Assembly lines have been set up. In the language of diplomacy, there is 'movement.'"
"No, it's not," she corrected. "It's very discouraging. They're been as it for hours. Plastic bags have been filled and piled to the ceiling, but all this hasn't made a dent, not a dent, in the situation! It's almost as if the inserts keep reproducing themselves!"
"Another thing," she continued. "Your college sons must learn that one does not get the best out of employees by threatening them with bodily harm.
Obtaining an audience with son NO. 1, I snarled, "I'll kill you if threaten one of those kids again! Idiot! You should be offering a bonus of a dollar every hour to the worker who fills the most bags.
"But that would cut into our profit," he suggested.
"There won't be any profit unless those kids enable you to make all the deliveries on time. If they don't, you two will have to remove all that paper by yourselves. And there will be no eating or sleeping until it is removed."
There was a short, thoughtful silence. Then he said, "Dad, you have just worked a profound change in my personality."
By the following evening, there was much for my wife to report. The bonus program had worked until someone demanded to see the color of cash. Then some activist on the work force claimed that the workers had no business settling for $5 and a few competitive bonuses while the bossed collected hundreds of dollars each. The organizer had declared that all the workers were entitled to $5 per hour! They would not work another minute until the bosses agreed.
The strike lasted less than two hours. In mediation, the parties agreed on $2 per hour. Gradually, the huge stacks began to shrink.
As it turned out, the job was completed three hours before Sunday's 7 a.m. deadline. By the time I arrived home, the boys had already settled their accounts: $150 in labor costs, $40 for gasoline, and a like amount
for gifts—boxes of candy for saintly neighbors who had volunteered station wagons and help in delivery and dozen roses for their mother. This left them with $185 each — about two-thirds the minimum wage for the 91 hours they worked. Still, it was "enough", as one of them put it, to enable them to "avoid indignity" for quite a while.
All went well for some weeks. Then one Saturday morning my attention was drawn to the odd goings-on of our two youngest sons. They kept carrying carton after carton from various corners of the house out the front door to curbside. I assumed their mother had enlisted them to remove junk for a trash pickup. Then I overheard them discussing finances.
"Geez, we're going to make a lot of money!"
"We're going to be rich!"
Investigation revealed that they were offering " for sale or rent" our entire library.
"No! No!" I cried. "You can't sell our books!"
"Geez, Dad, we thought you were done with them!"
"You're never 'done' with books," I tried to explain.
"Sure you are. You read them, and you're done with them. That's it. Then you might as well make a little money from them. We wanted to avoid the indignity of having to ask you for……"
n. (sl.) U.S. dollar
n. (pl) 塑料
a. unhurried 从容的，慢慢的
n. free time 空闲时间，闲暇
a. profitable 有利的；赚钱的
vt. cause pain to
vi. (AmE) beg. esp. on the streets
n. delivering (of letters, goods, etc.)投递；送交
vi. show enthusiasm
a. (colloq.) wonderful, splendid; excellent
vt. say(sth.) sharply 厉声说
ad. in the usual conditions; ordinarily 通常
vt. say or do what another person says or does; repeat 附和；重复
n. (short for) advertisement
vt. tell; give information 告知
n. (AmE) veranda 门廊
n. as much as one arm or both arms can hold; armful
n. a path specially arranged or paved for walking 人行道
ad. in an unnatural way 不自然地
vi. (of the voice or sound) shake; tremble 颤抖
n. as much or as many as a truck can carry
n. store selling many different kinds of goods in separate departments 百货公司
n. coin of U.S. and Canada worth ten cents
n. (AmE) a store selling a large variety of low-priced articles; variety store 廉价商品店；小商口店
n. (AmE) a store that sells not only medicine, but also beauty products, film, magazines, and food 药店，杂货店
n. a store that sells food and household supplies 食品杂货店
n. part of subdivision of a piece of writing, book, newspaper, etc.; portion （文章等的）段落；节；部分
vt. fill too full; force or press into a small space 把……塞满；把……塞进
n. an orderly; heap or group of things 一叠（堆、垛等）
n. flat, thin piece of material 带；带状物
vt. tie up with a band 捆扎
n. the distance at which one can see or hear （听觉、视觉等）的范围
a. wonderful; astonishing
n. a hollow in a hard surface made by a blow or pressure; initial progress凹痕，凹坑，初步进展
vt. produce the young of (oneself or one's own kind) 生殖，繁殖
a. of the human body; physical
n. damage or wrong 伤害
n. the people gathered in a place to hear or see; a chance to be heard 观众；听众；陈述意见的机会
vt. speak in a harsh voice 咆哮着说
n. an extra payment to workers 奖金
a. give to or indicating thought 沉思的，思考的
n. money in coins or notes 现金
n. a person taking an active part esp. in a political movement 激进分子
n. total number of workers employed in a particular factory, industry or area 工人总数；劳动人口
n. person who organizes things 组织者
n. one of the people or sides in an agreement or argument 一方；当事人
ad. slowly and by degrees.
shrink (shrank, shrunk)
vi. become less or smaller 减少；变小
n. fixed limit of finishing a piece of work 最后期限
minimum (pl. minima or minimums)
n. the smallest possible amount, number, etc. 最低限度的量、数等
n. the lowest wage permitted by law or by agreement for certain work 法定最工资
a. strange; unusual
n. activities, usu. of an undesirable kind
n. a cardboard box for holding goods 纸板箱（或盒） curbside
n. the area of sidewalk at or near curb （curb: 人行道的镶边石）
vt. obtain the support and help of; cause to join the armed forces 取得……的支持和帮助；征募
n. waste material to be thrown away; rubbish 垃圾
n. a small light truck with an open back used for light deliveries 小卡车；轻型货车
vt. hear by chance; hear without the knowledge of the speaker(s)无意中听到；偷听到
n. money matters; (used in pl.) money; (science of ) the management of funds 财政；钱财；金融
n. the act of selling sth.
Phrases & Expressions
bring or come to a stop （使）停下
a piece of cake
(informal) sth. very easy to do
just at the same moment as
know better than
be wise or experienced enough not (to do sth.) 明事理而不至于
be occupied with, be doing
make a dent (in)
make less by a very small amount; reduce slightly; make a first step towards success(in)减少一点；取得初步进展
reduce; decrease 减少
have no business
have no right or reason 无权，没有理由
accept, although not altogether satisfactory （无可奈何地）满足于
settle one's account
pay what one owes 结帐
quite a while
a fairly long time
draw(sb.'s) attention to
make sb. notice, or be aware of
intended to be sold
available to be rented
be done with
stop doing or using; finish 做完，不再使用
may/might/could as well
with equal or better effect 不妨，还不如，最好