Monday, June 4, 2012

Money Is Good, but People Are Better

I’m getting something professionally framed right now. My framing guy works bankers’ hours, à la the kind of banker who nurses a major coke problem. His place of business can be shuttered up at 3:15 p.m. and then reopened at 5. But I won’t go to anyone else. I wish he were my uncle.

I stopped by his gallery at an early-afternoon hour this weekend and it was closed. I’d anticipated as much and brought along some reading material and my portable canvas lounging chair so I could walk down the block to Central Park and wait for him. When I walked back to the gallery a few hours later, it was Open Sesame.

“You’re working bankers’ hours,” I told him.

“No I’m not,” he shot back, while limping toward me.

“Oh yes you are. I come by in the middle of the afternoon and the gate’s down.”

“I haven’t been well,” he said. “I had hip surgery and was hospitalized. I’m just now getting back into things.”

That was my cue to cut it.

He asked if I was a musician, thinking the lounging chair that was rolled up and strapped behind my shoulder was a musical instrument.

A visit with him isn’t much different from watching an installment of The Cosby Show. It’s a shame when it’s over and there’s usually a feel-good message or moral to take away from the experience.

I haggled to get the total price of the job to come down and he didn’t object. He told a story about his physically abusive mother who used to beat him with her heels. One beating was in reaction to his having stolen some money. She told him that “money is good, but people are better” and he’s always remembered that. It’s interesting that she taught him a “you should value people” lesson at or around the time she was roughing a person up, but if this is the childhood memory that persuades him to stick to a negotiable-prices policy, who am I to over-analyze?

On my way out he introduced me to someone, telling her that I’m very strong and if she ever needs a bodyguard, I’m the one she’ll want. How does he instinctively know me so well? I’ve been preoccupied with the bodyguard motif for 2 years! Now that he’s in this frail condition, the next logical move would be my stepping up to become his (bankers’ hours only) bodyguard, at a negotiable fee. 


  1. If you ever wanted a second job, you could be his "bankers' hours only" bodyguard :) I love meeting quirky and insightful people. You'll often find that those two traits come together!

  2. So often magical people like him also have frail health. It's hard to meet and fall under someone's spell, knowing that you can't protect them from the things they have to face. Honestly, if I feel this way about near strangers, it's a good thing I never had kids, huh?

  3. I love the name of your blog! I just stopped by from SITS to say hello; hope you find time to do the same.

    I've never been a good negotiator of prices. I just pay what they're asking. I need to take a lesson from you!

  4. Great story. Great quote. Thanks for sharing.

    Stopping by from SITS.

  5. You meet such interesting people. Your framer sounds terrific--maybe one day I'll ask him to frame my pictures.

  6. You are so good at reminding me of what I know. Thanks for every word.