Friday, March 12, 2010

Can a Corporation be a Mensch?

Can a Corporation be a Mensch?

Bank of America to End Debit Overdraft Fees
In a move that could bring an end to the $40 cup of coffee, Bank of America said on Tuesday that it was doing away with overdraft fees on purchases made with debit cards, a decision that could cost the bank tens of millions a year in revenue and put pressure on other banks to do the same. -- from the NYTimes.

Yes, a corporation can be a mensch -- meaning a "stand-up guy" or a person of honor and integrity like when you do the right thing. In this case, the Bank of America removed the hateful fee that has punished millions of people who, admittedly, were stupid enough to let their balance go below zero.

Corporations are legally considered to be persons, which has perpetuated all manner of abuse, but in this case, when a giant banking concern acts like a human being -- I'm all for it. I'm sure the bank's motives are not entirely selfless, but I will take it at face value, and this news has put a big smile on my face.

I'm getting tired of Facebook. I have more than 900 friends but my attention span has been shattered into tiny pieces. I think I will just leave it alone for a while and read a book.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
This is an old-fashioned book about a young girl who grows up in the tenements of Brooklyn one hundred years ago. That's what I'm reading -- beats wasting my time on Facebook.

St. Matthew Passion.
But I like the Internet. Right now I'm listening to the St. Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach. The entire work is on YouTube. I'm listening to it as I write today's letter.

God Doesn't Want Me to Collect Unemployment.
I don't often get specific message from God. But when I applied for unemployment compensation last week, I heard a mighty voice calling to me, saying, "Fred, you have to go back to work now."

To put it another way, my claim has run into bureaucratic difficulties, and I so loathe wasting my time on this kind of paperwork, that I would rather go back to my old job at the hospital.

This is a job that I can't seem to get rid of -- as a nursing aide for disruptive and difficult patients in the medical unit -- looking after patients who are unable to behave, like they want to climb out of bed and go home, and I get to spend hours and hours with them saying things like, "Mr. Jorgenson, you have to stay in bed. You're sick. If you try to get out of bed, you'll fall down and hurt yourself. We can't let you do that."

That's the job. Apparently, despite the large number of people who are out of work, the hospital cannot find anybody who will take my place. They refuse to lay me off. So I can't collect unemployment, and I have to go back to work now, because I need the money.

It could be worse. But I wish it was better.

Farm Stories.
I have also been writing farm stories for the LaConner Weekly News -- our vastly improved local newspaper, co-published by Cindy Vest and Sandy Stokes. I have written stores about our local crops, one crop at a time -- potatoes, peas, dairies, cabbage seeds, and tulips.

My next story will be called "Plowing 101." I chose this topic because pretty soon the farmers will be out in the fields turning over the soil. They will likely be starting early this year because the weather has been mild. But they get going out there and it's like an invasion. It's powerful. They just keep working and working from first light until darkest night, to get it all done.

Well, there is lot more to plowing than you might first expect. It's more complicated than just climbing on a tractor and riding it back and forth across the field. So I will be explaining some of the basics of plowing in my next story.

These farm stories will soon be available at Frog Hospital, but for right now, you need to get a copy of the LaConner Weekly News.

The Muse in Conway. I went to the Muse in Conway for the Open Mike night on Wednesday. It costs $5 to get in. There were some very talented musicians playing, and they have an excellent sound system. It's very cozy too. I'm going back next week to read an excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book.
The excerpt is called "The Scars on Her Face."

Feeling Connected. I enjoy writing this newsletter, because I feel connected to many people when I do it. I imagine people in different parts of the country seeing this pop into their Inbox. This is a good thing, but if you have not written back to me in a while, I'm always glad to get a short note.

The Frog Hospital T-shirts
are ready to be shipped. This year when you sign up for a $25 subscription to Frog Hospital, you get a FREE T-shirt, no charge for shipping.

Write a check for $25 made out to Fred Owens. Mail it to Box 1292 LaConner, WA 98257. I will send one XL t-shirt to the return address, unless you want another size.

Or go to the Frog Hospital blog and pay $25 on the PayPal button -- but then you need to send me an email with the mailing address.

This is not too complicated, and it's a really cool T-shirt. I had it designed by Alexander Kramer, an up and coming artist in LaConner.

The Frog Hospital book will be coming out later this spring. There will also be a book deal, but right now it's the T-shirt deal.

Thank you for your support.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

send mail to:

Fred Owens
Box 1292
LaConner WA 98257


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