I’m thinking of making myself unavailable. It worked for Madoff.
Going to open an office smack in the middle of an inaccessible area. Hard to get to is easily as cool as hard to get.
I’m going to call my company Distant and Aloof. Or, all the bigger and better, Distant and Aloof, Inc. “Inc.” as in “inconvenient.”
I’m going to have an unlisted number—in the Yellow Pages. A welcome mat reading NOT IN. A doorbell that rings like a barking dog. “Inc.” as in “incommunicado.”
The more inaccessible I am, the more my prospects and peers will seek me. Not only will I turn down all work, but I’ll also turn down work for all my clients—if I deign to have any, because I think I’ll turn down clients as well.
Then I’ll sit back and let everyone flock to me. Isn’t that what we all do—flock to those who are supposed to know more than we know? To listen for nuggets of wisdom. And the more they charge—or distantly and aloofly offer to discount—the more confident we are in the superior knowledge we think we are getting from them. Individuals and institutions begged Bernie Madoff to take money he couldn’t refuse.
We humble ourselves at the altars of those who impress us with so little need for us. We place blind faith in remote sages, physicians and clergy, lawyers and psychoanalysts, who tell us what’s wrong with us in Latin. Our insurance, taxes and tithes don’t entitle us to a translation.
We wait endless hours in doctors’ offices. Did you ever try to keep a doctor waiting? Try my prescription. Finally admitted to the inner sanctum of a specialist after an inordinate wait sans explanation or apology, I told him I intended to deduct what I estimated my time was worth from what his fee indicated his time was worth. I got his full attention. I don’t think I got the full benefit of his knowledge—but I left his office feeling better.
In mind of that now, I’m having second thoughts about Distant and Aloof, Inc. I don’t think I can ever be one of the busy people I can’t get to.
One of those busy people was Kenneth I. Starr—“I.” as in “incarcerated.” By playing as hard to get as his role model, the more-than-mini-Madoff money manager not so aloofly “distanced” more than $59 million from his starry clientele. This morning’s New York Times reports that Starr “asked to be released from jail on bail of $2 million” and “would be in the custody of his wife, Diane Passage.” Starr-Passage—what an inviting name for a company catering to the want-to-be richer and more famous! How cunning of the man not to use it.
I clearly don’t have what it takes. I answered my phone half-a-dozen times today. I shmoozed with my doorman and stopped for acquaintances as I walked with my wife. So I’m folding Distant and Aloof, Inc. before it opens.
Anyone have the number for The Wizard of Oz?