Misunderstanding The Free Market

| Working | June 6, 2014

(A new restaurant has opened in my city and struggles to get customers. The staff decides to organise a carnival party and hires some of my friends who play Latino music. The owner of the restaurant also wants a dancer to put on a show during the carnival party. My friends pass on to her my phone number. The owner and I agree to meet at the restaurant to discuss the event.)

Owner: “Nice to meet you! I’m so glad you agreed to meet me in person, before we sealed anything. I was so scared you could have been an ugly dancer! No one likes ugly dancers! And you are so pretty! Anyway, I thought you could dance here next Saturday during the party. I want you to perform four dances and then spend time with the customers just to encourage them to dance. You have to be here at seven pm sharp and you’ll probably leave around two am. Make sure you talk about the party to your friends so they can come here and have a great night.”

Me: “Okay, that sounds all right to me. So, I charge [price] for such an event.”

Owner: “Well, the thing is, you see, we are a new restaurant with a little budget. We have very few customers and struggling to make ends meet. All of our budget is going to the professional musicians, because they are really good, and we have no other choice but to pay them. We know that dancers usually do that job because they are passionate. What we can offer in exchange is a lot of advertising. We can put flyers for your company and your dance classes. We will also talk about you on social networks and on our fan-page. Or if you do not want advertising, we can offer you a voucher for a free meal. But obviously, we can’t offer you both as we are on a restrained budget.”

Me: “Pardon? So you want me to spend five hours at your restaurant on a Saturday night, come with all of my friends, bring my expensive costumes, and put a show for you for either a meal or advertising? And on top of that, you are implying that I’m not as worthy as the musicians, and do not deserve to be paid? Just so you know I haven’t only studied performing arts at university. I also have a degree in marketing, so I do not really need any help when it comes to advertising.”

Owner: “But we really need your help. You have to understand us. It’s very difficult for us to make ends meet.”

Me: “I am very sorry, but my policy is to only volunteer for charity. Your restaurant is a business, not a NGO. Currently, I am volunteering with three different organisations on a weekly basis. And actually, for one of these NGO, we are looking for a restaurant that would host us for free, as part of a fundraising. Are you willing to help us for free?”

Owner: *silent, with a very shocked face*

(No need to say I never went to that place again.)

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