5-year-old girl fined almost $200 for having a lemonade stand (Wonder why starting a business is hard?)
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Building a business requires a little courage and a few small steps to begin.
You get an idea. You start to implement it. If you allow yourself to think too long about obstacles, you can talk yourself out of it.
So it was that a five-year-old girl hit upon the idea of putting a stall out and selling things. She hit upon the idea of selling lemonade.
Which was odd, because she's British. Lemonade stands aren't quite as British as sipping a Pimm's. Hollywood infects many minds, I suspect.
As the girl's dad, Andre, wrote in the Telegraph, she put out a lemonade stand outside their home in London, made some lemonade and waited for customers.
She'd clearly thought about pricing. It was 50 British pence (just about nothing) for a small cup and one British pound (barely much at all, especially after the Brexit Show) for a bigger one.
Soon, she had business.
Soon the lemonade began to disappear.
And remarkably soon -- within 30 minutes, says Spicer -- four official types appeared at her stand.
"'Allo, 'allo, 'allo," I imagine them saying. "Have you got a permit for this, little lady?"
They were likely the sort of officious busybodies who wouldn't ever cry at a chick-flick.
I'm sorry. I feel a touch biased. For these officials fined the little girl 150 British pounds. That's 300 small cups of lemonade or, to you, almost $200.
Were these people several pips short of an orange? And why, in any case, were there four of them? Had they heard that the Kray Twins were operating this stand?
Dad says that they tried to be nice by saying that if the fine was paid quickly, there would be a discount. To 90 British pounds.
You might have forgiven dad for thinking that these were some of the most stupid officials he's ever encountered in his life.
Oh, did I mention that Andre Spicer is professor of organizational behavior City University, London's Business School?
I might add that he's the author of The Stupidity Paradox. Its subtitle is: "The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work."
I cannot confirm he's writing a follow-up entitled The Stupidity Won. Why My Family Is Moving To The Desert. There's Always A Need For Lemonade There.
Whatever business you start, someone will come along to tell you why you shouldn't or can't be doing it.
Worse, some will even tell you it's against the law.
You'll whisper to me that Uber was a prime example of ignoring legal things. And I'll whisper back that Uber may not be the finest example of anything at all.
Oddly, once Spicer's Telegraph article came out, the Tower Hamlets council decided that perhaps the fine wasn't warranted after all.
Still, the Four Horsepeople of the Commercial Apocalypse had already made a little girl cry. And, no doubt, wonder about the wisdom of owning a business.
You'll tell me this couldn't happen in America. I know one or two local officials who might delight in wielding such bitter power.
I'm also disturbed by one searing question: Which neighbor reported the little girl's stand to the council? You can't help but suspect it was one of them, no?
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