An Amusing Story
by Noah Lugeons
I live in New York City, which means that if you don’t live in New York City, I pay more for everything than you do. I pay more for milk, more for movie tickets, more for takeout and, most of all, more for rent. And like many New Yorkers, when faced with the “you can afford a studio apartment on the seventh floor of a walk up if you don’t mind the well-armed cockroaches” dilemma, I chose instead to go with the “really nice place that I share with half a dozen other people” option.
My roommates have been very supportive of the podcast, which is fortunate. My wife and I have the basement apartment which means that from time to time I have to say stuff like, “nobody walk in the living room for the next half hour, I’ve got an interview”. And while they’ve largely been supportive, I can’t say that they’ve been “understanding” exactly. They’re very accommodating and they clearly realize this is something that is very important to me, but I don’t think any of them have the blindest clue why I’m doing it.
Basically, they don’t understand why I would work so often and so hard on something that I’m not getting paid to do. Sure, they all have passions and hobbies that they do without compensation, but I guess something about putting together a “show” that strikes them as the kind of thing one gets paid for. Why provide people with entertainment if there’s no financial reward?
Well, I’m sure that you know the answer to that already. Financial isn’t the only type of reward. Becoming a part of a community that I care passionately about, meeting and interviewing people I admire and respect, having a creative outlet, the knowledge that I’m doing a small part to correct a large injustice, the knowledge that at any given moment I might be making someone in the world laugh, the pride that I take when I see the podcast climb up the iTunes ranks, the ability to say things that I have to hold in through the majority of my day; any one of those things would probably be enough to keep me doing this, but the fact that I get all of them makes it a real no-brainer.
Despite my ready list of reasons, I’ve still been unable to sufficiently explain my motivation to my roommates. I’ll tell them all that good stuff and they’ll nod understandingly, but then they’ll still say, “you should be getting paid for it, though.”
Well, over the weekend I finally got an answer that explained it to at least one of them. I got an email from a listener named Jeff with the heading ‘An Amusing Story’. I hope he doesn’t mind me reprinting it here (and I can’t imagine that he does), but here’s the email in it’s entirety:
Just a story I thought I’d share. I was playing a game of Hearts with some guys during lunch, 2 Italian ,1 Irish, all Catholic. During the game I was leading and being annoyingly cocky. As it turned out I ended up losing, one of the guys turns to me and says, ”See? God don’t like cocky!!”
I replied,”I know, if God liked cocky he would have been sucking Joseph’s dick instead of fucking Mary, and you would have never gotten you little Savior”. The faces were priceless, I’m sure lightning was expected.
One of my roommates was there when I opened my inbox and, of course, asked me what I was laughing at. I read him the email and he had a laugh as well. Then he asks, “Is that a friend of yours from Georgia?”
“No, it’s somebody who listens to the show.”
“Well… wait, a perfect stranger sent you that?”
As much as I don’t like thinking of our listeners as ‘perfect strangers’ I didn’t want to nitpick so I simply said, “Yeah.”
“Why would a perfect stranger send you that story?” he asked.
“Because he knew I would appreciate it.”
He didn’t respond, but I could tell by the look on his face that for the first time, it clicked with him. He finally understood why I would invest a part-time job’s worth of time to produce a show that I then give it away for free.