A year ago, Leonard Takimoto pulled up along side me at a stop sign. “Hey,” he yelled across his front seat, “I need to talk to you.” I nodded to him and drove to a McD’s and pulled into their lot. Leonard parked beside me and we got out.
Leonard came to this country six years ago determined to get rich. It hadn’t worked yet.
“Don," he said, " I bought a greenhouse. This time I’m gonna get rich.”
“Lennie, what do you know about growing flowers?”
“It’s in my genes. All orientals know about flowers.”
“And you heard that from?” I asked.
“The seller. But what I wanted to ask you is, would you like to be my partner?”
At the time I thought this was a goofy idea, and turned him down. It turned out I was right.
A year later, as I was ordering breakfast at McD's, Lennie slid in the booth across from me. He was smiling.
“Guess what? he said, “I sold the greenhouse.”
“Wonderful. Who bought it?”
“A chicken farmer. He said he was gonna tear it down and build a chicken co-op.”
“I think you mean coop,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s what I said. Lookie here,” he held out a check for $48,500.
“That’s really great,” I said, ” but didn’t you pay $53,500 for that place?”
“Yes, but that’s the great part, I only lost $5000.”
A year ago Leonard had bought a rundown greenhouse, and worked day and night to get it up and running. He had a lot of problems to solve, however his worse problem turned out to be his next door neighbor. His neighbor was an old sewage disposal plant. The plant was so old it still released it’s noxious fumes into the atmosphere. Leonard’s intake fans sucked these fumes into the greenhouse.
Leonard said you get used to the smell in a couple of hours, but his customers never stayed that long, in fact some rushed out within minutes, holding a hand over their mouth and nose.
Leonard had beautiful flowers, but business was slow. Then, one day he spied a young man standing on a corner selling roses. This, Lennie decided, was his salvation. A few days later, Leonard hired several young people to stand on busy street corners and hawk his flowers. That first day was a success. They sold two hundred bouquets. Leonard was elated.
That next morning, as Lennie was pulling into his lot, he observed several dozen people milling around his greenhouse. Then, perplexed, he saw that many of them were waving bouquets they had bought from him.
Once out of his car, Lennie was besieged. All the people were clamoring for their money back. Leonard finally quited them down enough to ask why?
That’s when an elderly woman crammed a bouquet of carnations into his face; he had his answer. All the flowers smelled like shit.