Bouncing for books


I wish this was a story about trampolines.

A couple weeks ago, I was the guest speaker at a writing event for 3rd-12th graders. It was great. I even saw parents nodding along with my talk. One guy came up to me afterward (a grandpa) and said, “When you put that cup of water on the podium, I thought, ‘Wow, we’re in for a long one.’ But you kept it short and sweet–and interesting!” Big smile from the dude, and no better compliment could I have received.

After the event, I got to sell my books (which is the subject for another post–reconsidering audience). Great, right? Last week I got a note from the bank, and one check had been returned. My bank account is now out $10, plus a $7 fee, and there’s the $6.50 I paid for the book in the first place. $23.50 and a free book went to John and Brenda and their daughter (I’m guessing).

Someone said, “Well, call them and ask for your book back! Or the money!” What good would that do? What if these people have no jobs, but they bought their daughter a book for $10 because she wanted it? What gets me is this: did they *know* they had no money, but they did it anyway, for her? Or was it just a gap between paydays and something came up, and they thought they could float, but they couldn’t?

I’ve thought about this situation a lot (not that it’s my biz, but writers think about things). Honestly, I am happy to give them a book and pay $23.50 for it. Maybe they really, really, needed one. Maybe they knew how happy it would make their child.

I could be wrong: John and Brenda may be complete scam artists, though none of the families at this event struck me that way. Moms and dads and everyone else were there to honor their kids, beginning writers who were proud of themselves, and the families were proud, too. I can chip in for that.

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