That was then, and this is now

I am putting my indispensable Harvest timesheet clock on “unbillable” for a few minutes to talk about what’s been flooding our email inboxes for the past few days: Requests for money, from both business enterprises and charities.

Like the current economic situation (dare I use the R-word?), it’s only going to get worse.

So, I’m sitting here thinking about what I hope things will look like two years down the road, when the bad times begin to recede.

And the answer is: Different. A lot of these businesses and non-profits will be gone. Which ones will remain will be determined, in large part, by their ability to adapt to reality. Starting right now.

To all those organizations asking me to fund your efforts to keep presenting the same type and level of services you did during the boom years, the answer is: Absolutely no. Sure, I liked the plays you presented last year. But perhaps next year you need to consider ones with lower production costs?

Come back to me with a plan for how you are going to be leaner and meaner during the next two years, and I’ll give long, hard thought to what I can contribute to help you survive.

To all those businesses asking me to pay $110 for a sweater with a trendy label (that will be discounted to $29.99 in January): Fat chance. If I really need a sweater, I’ll be buying it from the local consignment shop.

I regret that people spent so much effort during my childhood teaching me to say “Please” and “Thank You” without bothering to teach me how to say “No.” I’m told that now that I’ve learned to say it, I’m a bit too emphatic and harsh. But something tells me I’ll be getting plenty of practice in the coming months refining my delivery.

Perhaps I’ll try softening “No” with a phrase my friend Charlotte Goldstein, a child of the Depression, uses to great effect: “That was then — and this is now.”

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