Friday, December 2, 2022

Andy Young: Getting the last laugh (Almost)

By Andy Young

My high school guidance counselor was responsible for convincing me to try attending college. He accomplished this by laying out every available (at the time) alternative to furthering my education, listing choices that included cutting grass, washing dishes and pumping gas.

Andy Young shows off a copy of his latest
book, Work(s) in Progress which has 
demonstrated his expertise at writing
and his business acumen.
I’ve never regretted my decision to continue my studies, and not just because the subsequent rise of self-service gas stations would have wiped out the most alluring of my other three career options shortly after my 21st birthday.

But transitioning from high school slacker to university attending slacker wasn’t easy.

The first issue: finding an affordable school which admitted students with lackluster grades and a paucity of (okay; zero) extra-curricular activities. Fortunately. I was accepted at a large state university where the total cost of room and board for a semester was expressible in a mere three digits, but then came the next quandary: selecting a major. I wasn’t quite sure what a “major” was, but when I learned that business majors weren’t required to take any science courses, learn a foreign language, or write lengthy thesis papers, I eagerly signed up.

Unfortunately, the business school’s academic requirements turned out to be slightly more rigorous than I had expected. That was why, after four years of attending my classes semi-regularly and passing nearly all of them, I received a letter from the dean dismissing me from the program for having failed, after eight semesters, to have completed the lower division (freshman and sophomore year) requirements.

True, I had been given plenty of prior warning but to be fair, every time I took a required pre-business course, like statistics, calculus, or computer science, I ended up flunking it. That’s why I began opting for classes like Peer Counseling, Mythology, and History of Connecticut, which allowed me to remain a fulltime student while simultaneously staying off academic probation.

I wasn’t broken-hearted about my business school excommunication, but it seemed a shame to have squandered four years of higher education without graduating.

That’s why, after consulting with several knowledgeable peers familiar with finding eminently passable (“gut”) courses, I transferred to the School of Liberal Arts and, two years later, emerged with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Several people questioned that diploma’s value, but I silenced them by immediately putting it to work coaching high school basketball, substitute teaching, and cleaning rain gutters for people too frail to do it themselves.

Decades later it’s only an innate sense of decency that keeps me from thumbing my nose at those responsible for my premature banishment from business school.

I’m actively using my English degree to encourage and teach young people to effectively communicate, both verbally and in writing.

Not only that, I’m now a published author whose most recent collection of essays, Work(s) in Progress, is now available at several Southern Maine bookstores. Take that, University of Connecticut School of Business!

However, there is a tiny bit of irony in my remarkable success story. The consignment agreement I signed with the bookstores gives them a percentage of the price of each copy of Work(s) in Progress they sell, which is fair enough. However, after doing some math I discovered that my cut of each sale is less than the per-book cost of printing!

The bottom line: thanks to my lack of business acumen, every time someone purchases a copy of Work(s) in Progress from the bookstore, my “profit” is negative 90 cents.

Getting the last laugh on a person or entity one believes has wronged them must yield quite a satisfying feeling. Getting the second-to-last laugh, however, seems a little less rewarding. <

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