Short on Perception

Would-Be Writer Finds A Successful Career

Tony was born into a family of short people and received the physical genetics of his forebears. His great-grandfather was 5’2″; his grandfather was 5’3″; his father was 5’4″ and so was Tony.

His great-grandfather had built a home for his new bride some hundred years ago, built it to fit the size of people they were, and it suited them well. Tony grew up in this house and it was his idea of a great place to live, so he was delighted when he inherited the family home. It was the perfect fit for him and his short wife.

To earn his daily bread Tony took up building houses. He was a conscientious fellow, did quality work and built many houses. But his houses had what some people considered a serious flaw; they were built Tony’s size. For one thing, the doors in his houses were 6′ high and not an inch more.

People would say to him, “Tony, why don’t you put bigger doors in your houses? You know there are a lot of people higher than 6′ and they always have to duck to get in the door.”

“Those folks are too tall,” Tony would reply. “If they’re going to be so high-minded they’ll just have to bend a little. A little exercise would be good for them. My houses are simple and adequate; I’m building them the way the good Lord wants me to build them.”

“But Tony” argued one fellow, “surely the Good Lord knows there are people over six feet tall. If you’d just make a few changes, your houses would fit more people and your sales would be much better.”

“Nope,” said Tony. “Nobody needs a door over six feet high. I build what I build; take it or leave it. My sales are enough for me and my family and the house plan I’ve used for years works well for me. Why should I change anything?”

Tony built house after house and sold a lot to shorter people like himself. Unfortunately, no one over six feet ever bought a house he’d built. In fact – being so lofty and all – they tended to avoid even entering a house Tony had built. So his sales were modest; a number of his houses even sat empty because they just didn’t suit many people or their tall relatives who may want to visit occasionally. Tony just shrugged. That was their problem.

Tony retired early from the building trade. Later, wanting to add some zip to his retirement years, he decided to write his memoirs – then maybe even a few novels. Why, in time he could perhaps earn a nice income from writing. So he bought himself an up-to-date computer and spent hours completing his memoirs, then handed his manuscript to various relatives. They all nodded; it sounded good to them. Just like Tony himself speaking.

Then Tony got braver and sent his memoir to a few publishers, but no one was buying. After a number of rejections he decided he would publish the book himself. He was sure people would be interested in what he had to say, so he scraped together the cash and took it to a local printer.

The printer read the manuscript, then told him, “Tony, your memoir is interesting as a whole, but I find it hard to read. Your grammar needs help and some expressions you’ve used don’t compute with me. Maybe they are your family’s expressions but most people won’t know them. And some of those sentences should be gone over with a steam iron to flatten them out. Your clauses are as tangled and streamers in the wind.”

Then the fellow ventured to suggest, “Could you maybe find an editor to help you make this more readable? I think if your book were easier to read and understand, it would be more acceptable to a wider audience and your sales would be better.”

“Nope,” said Tony. “An editor would change too much. My family understand it. Other people just need to put forth a little effort and they could understand it, too. Anyway, the good Lord is my Editor. He’s told me what to write.”

“Umm… But surely the good Lord knows more about sentence structure and grammar than you seem do?”

“God doesn’t worry about such things. He’s only concerned with the message – and so am I. My writing is done in the simple, homespun style God loves. If people can’t understand what I’ve written it must be because they are too high-minded and vain. It would be a good exercise for them to read this; they need to come down to a more common level.”

So Tony had his memoir printed and he sold a lot of copies to his friends and relatives. He tried to sell it at various local Farmer’s Markets but didn’t have much luck. Many curious people picked it up, but after glancing through the first few pages they put it back on the shelf. Likely too lofty to appreciate such simple fare, Tony thought as he watched them stroll away. Not interested in exercises that would be good for them.

However, the poor reception did get him down some and one morning he said to his wife, “You know, writing just hasn’t done much for me. I haven’t ever recovered my costs from printing the first book, so there’s no point doing another. I think I’ll try something else – maybe small engine repair.”

So Tony bought a “Repairing Small Engines” manual and studied it carefully. He talked with other repair men and hung out in shops where he could watch engines being repaired until he got a handle on the process. Then he hung out his shingle; soon he had a great business and no spare time to wonder about spending. Tony had found his perfect fit.

He shakes his head when someone mentions his book. “I guess the good Lord just didn’t want me to be a writer.”


One thought on “Short on Perception

  1. What a perfectly delightful story! Just marvelous! I think I heard about Tony. Wasn’t he the short man who wanted to be a jockey but was rejected repeatedly because he was too tall?!! Guess he wasn’t short enough!


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