Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why I Need a Manager

Subject: Math Tutor
From: CM
To: e@ccny.cuny.edu
Hi,

Saw your posters advertising math help. I am in Math 201, but am having trouble with algebra. Was hoping you are available to sit down with me and work on some problems.
Thank you,

CM

From: e
To: CM
Yikes! Math 201 can be very difficult if you algebra isn't up to speed.

For me, the most convenient time to meet would be Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday before 11 a.m. Does that work for you?

From: CM
To: e
Unfortunately, I have Chemistry lectures and lab M, Tu, W, F mornings. Thursdays I have work.

If we can not find a time that work for both of us, perhaps you can recommend someone?

Thanks!

CM

From: e
To: CM
I don't know any other math tutors. How about I call you later and we
discuss the options over the phone?

From: CM
To: e
My number is below, I'm done with class for the day.

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I called CM, and we discussed scheduling options. After much back and forth, we decided that Friday afternoons would be the best time to meet. Throughout our conversations, both via email and over the phone, one issue was conspicuously absent: he never once asked me how much I would charge or mentioned anything about money. "Aha!" I thought to myself, "I can fleece this sucker. After meeting him once, he'll be so enthralled with my superior tutelage that when it comes time to say goodbye and he asks me my rates, I'll tell him it's $45 an hour, and he'll agree to it. Or maybe he'll bargain me down to $40. But I certainly won't lose him entirely if I'm just a wee bit greedy." Thus I had blithely thought on Tuesday afternoon.

We were supposed to meet Friday at 2:00 p.m. At 1:05 I got a text, "Hi, it's CM. Finished class early, I'm in the engineering library." I texted back, "All right. I'm coming over." As I hopped across the campus, I told myself, "Well, $45 is a bit greedy, but I can definitely ask for forty. Don't chicken out e, ask for forty!"

We met. We discussed limits and derivatives. Then we moved on to a simple limit problem. I knew how to evaluate the limit using some shortcuts, but I could not for the life of me remember how to do it without the shortcuts. My student didn't either. Time was up and he got up to leave. "How much did you say it would be per hour?" he asked, "$25?"
"Aurgh!" I thought, "Did I really say $25? Am I mishearing? Did he maybe get mixed up with that other tutoring sign hanging all over campus advertising $20 an hour? Well anyways, I can't ask for $45 when he's expecting $25 and I couldn't even evaluate the limit!"
"$35," I manage to choke out.

Aurgh. From now until the end of the semester I'll be making ten dollars a week less than I could have made if I only I would have had a bit more confidence. When I was just starting to get involved in tutoring, a friend of mine (who has since graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in applied mathematics) told me that he too dabbled in tutoring. "It's not hard," he said, "The only reason it didn't work out for me was because I didn't handle the business aspect well." Aurgh. The business aspect.

Oh yeah. Ten minutes after CM left, I remembered how to evaluate the limit.

22 comments:

  1. I find it fascinating that you don't blame your misfortune on your greed, a personal failing, but rather on your lack of business acumen, which could be interpreted as being rather endearing.

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  2. Return to the fold-shrewdness shall be your reward. It's innate.

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  3. You might hate me for this but I'm stuck on the loose vs. lose tick.

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  4. trs: My misfortune didn't come about through greed. It came about through lack thereof. And greed is not a personal failing. It's what drives capitalism.

    awm: Are all the rich jews religious?

    sarabonne: good point. I shall correct it.

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  5. Sure it came about through greed. You were greedy, wanted 45, and neglected to mention your price in order to get this exorbitant fee.

    Greed is certainly a personal failing, which is why capitalists give charity to undeserving haredi parasites.

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  6. Tell him 35 was for tutoring without any shortcuts. 45 is the price for tutoring plus shortcuts.

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  7. I recently started tutoring a Japanese attorney in English language for nearly $28 per hour, so you're doing all right, E. On the other hand, my tutoring lessons consist of meeting in a coffee shop and chatting about fun things like mergers, acquisitions, and capital investments, while you probably need to put a little effort into your student.

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  8. trs: yukel, if I wasn't greedy I would've told him l'chatchila $35.

    dovid: if the teacher wants them to do it davka without shortcuts, then that's all he's interested in. He's in that obnoxious part of the semester where they're differntiating using the definition of derivative.

    nemo: I enjoy tutoring math! But it does entail more exertion than chit-chatting in English. And you never have to worry "omg! What if he asks me about irregular verbs today! I don't know irregular verbs that well."

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  9. you are getting quite a good deal! Chit-chatting with a chic, drinking coffee, and getting paid!

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  10. She graduated university the year I was born.

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  11. well, she can share with you secrets that she has acquired during her years in the trade.

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  12. I think you did very well. You have good clarity that will help you take it to the next level. $45, $55, $75 etc

    Don’t be hard on yourself. Most ppl at the beginning of their business ventures lack the balls to charge what they deserve. All in due time, E.

    In regards to greed and religion – yeah good morning! Frum people hate when others are successful (zai farginen nit). They have this sick looser mentality of…. Ok never mind.

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  13. no longer frum: who mentioned religion?

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  14. Modeh B'MiktsasMarch 10, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    Greed is not only good but also holy. After my lab I have art history and I'll write a shabbos hagadol drasha on the subject.

    e: don't worry, you'll get another chance. I saw someone copying your email address off a sign the other day.

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  15. Modeh, which art movement are you studying?

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  16. Modeh B'MiktsasMarch 15, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    I'm not. It's a survey course. We start with stonehenge and end with bank walls in the MoMA

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  17. I think Brooklyn College is big on making their students taking humanities courses. I know a Brooklyn-College student who needed to take a classics course.

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  18. Modeh B'MitksasMarch 15, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    Everyone here does. I took it too.

    Ultimate irony: taking a final about greeks on channuka.

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  19. non-irony: reading megillas esther in Intro to Jewish Literature on Ta'anis Esther.

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  20. The teacher invited the class to come to her synagogue that night, and some actually did.

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Forth shall ye all hold.