Winning outside the world online

FROM America, that land of increasing desk rage from disk rage (computer meltdowns), comes a modern parable for the career minded. Reflect and, possibly, be amused … with caution.

An unemployed man goes to apply for a job as a janitor with a well-known software company we shall call M$. The manager there arranges for him to take aptitude test Number 241: Floors – Sweeping and Cleaning.

After the test, the manager says: “You clearly have ability and we are happy to hire you on the minimum wage of $5.15 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address, so that I can send you the proper form to complete and to tell you where to report for work on Monday.”

Taken aback, the man protests that he has neither a computer nor an e-mail address.

The M$ manager is shocked: “What? But that means you virtually don’t exist and, therefore, can hardly expect to be employed.”

Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having only $10 in his wallet, he decides to buy a 10lb flat of tomatoes at the supermarket.

Within less than two hours, he sells all the tomatoes individually at 100 per cent profit.

Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $100 before going to sleep that night.

And thus it dawns on him that he could quite easily make a living selling tomatoes. Getting up early every day and going to bed late, he multiplies his profits quickly.

After a short time he acquires a cart to transport several dozen boxes of tomatoes, only to have to trade it in for a flatbed truck to support his expanding business. By the end of the second year, he is the owner of a fleet of trucks and manages a staff of 100 former unemployed people, all selling tomatoes.

Planning for the future of his wife and children, he decides to buy life insurance. Consulting an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. At the end of the telephone conversation, the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically.

When the man replies that he has no e-mail, the adviser is speechless.

“You don’t have e-mail? How on earth have you managed to amass such wealth without the Internet,

e-mail or e-commerce? Just imagine where you would be now, if you had been connected to the Internet from the very start.”

After a moment of thought, the tomato millionaire replied: “Why, of course, I would be a floor cleaner at M$.”

The moral of this story may be (choose one):

p the Internet, e-mail and e-commerce do not need to rule your life;

p if you don’t have e-mail, but work hard, you can still become a millionaire;

p if you have e-mail, you might be closer to becoming a janitor than you are to becoming a millionaire; or

p if you have a computer and e-mail, M$ has already taken you to the cleaners.

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