Saturday, April 24, 2010


This morning while sitting by myself in the living room with my cat I heard myself shout "shut up" at the radio that sits on a table in the living room. I startled both the cat and myself at this outburst. I wondered if the accrued tensions of the week was not the source of this admonishment to the inanimate object nearby. Nevertheless, after the outburst I looked for the tiny remote control that allows me to change the stations on the radio. It was out of reach so I got up, shut off the radio and popped on a cd of Tony Bennett crooning oldies.

The impetus for my wrath were the words of a professional shnorrer. I tend to listen to three kinds of stations when using the music as background for reading or random contemplations. Either it is the local classical station, a college station that plays show tunes at certain times of the week, or an easy listening spot on the dial which plays the kind of tunes that cause my contemporaries to roll their eyes when they discover that I sort of like these songs for background.

It seems to me that in the past months, each of these stations has hired a bevy of shnorrers to interrupt the programming to try to make me feel guilty for not paying their salaries. I am told that if I like the kind of programs they have, I should send in some dough and get a calendar or some sort of magazine or, better yet, a judo type certificate suitable for framing that would let anyone who visits know that I am a bonafide member (read, "sucker") for station XYZ.

I find these shnorrers offensive partly because they interrupt the programs to which I have desired to attend without interruption. Also, I don't believe them. That is, I don't believe that without my check they will go belly up. I think their bellies are full and, I wonder, if I compared my professor's paycheck with programmers and directors there would be a glaring contrast and it would not be in my favor. I have some background knowledge with this. In Buffalo, I had a buddy who worked for a public television affiliate and she was adamant about the deceptive nature of the begging. For a stretch I served on a board that met periodically at the Boston public television offices. Nice digs, there. It did not seem as if anyone there had to take up a collection for much of anything.

I figure that if you make a deal with a public to do something, like teach, deliver mail, or broadcast show tunes, you should not make the deal if the only way for you to survive is to beg for sustenance. I make a deal with my administrators to teach for certain compensation. Can you imagine if after a course session I say that "If you liked the class you just took, then please donate to the teacher's fund."

I feel similarly when after I purchase a doughnut at a counter there appears a TIP fund for the person who has plucked the doughnut out of a case. I sort of figure that the cost of the doughnut includes the plucking. I sort of figure that my tax dollar is already supporting public radio. Play the music and stop with the shnorring.

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