Viewpoint from Wilshire and San Vicente: ‘If I’m Wrong, We Shall Soon Find Out … ‘

On the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica talking about Life Lessons.Waving my sign, “Read, Harvard” at yet another street corner, this one at Wilshire and San Vicente Boulevards, I wondered whether this was the best use of my time to get the word out about my book.

When promoting books, I’m told, you have a short window of time (measured in weeks, not months), to make a splash so I’m not about to wait around for things to happen. I’ve got to make things happen. Says so right in my book, after all.

Earlier in the day with my sandwich-board sign, I walked west along Wilshire to the Third Street Promenade and then out to the end of the Santa Monica Pier (the start or end of historic Route 66 depending your point of view) before turning east along Montana Street to reach Brentwood Village. In all, it was about 12 miles.

Now back at Wilshire and San Vicente, I was greeting a crazy convergence of cars as their drivers whizzed by during the frantic evening commute. Through their tinted windows, I spied drivers smiling, snarling, smirking, texting and talking on their cell phones, which made me draw back from the curb a little. Some drivers even glanced at me and my sign. One celebrity-seeking tour bus driver, who was probably driving back from O.J. Simpson’s infamous Brentwood house, waved back.

Part of the time, I shared my corner with a down-and-outer who told me he landed there because he had been selling securities without a license. He assured me he still had all of his old clients; he only needed to renew his license to get back on his feet. After about 15 minutes of conversation (he was 51, grew up in Vegas and he admitted he shouldn’t have tried to beat the Fed), he took off and wished ME luck.

I was already a member of his itinerant fraternity, only I knew where I was going to shower, shave and lay my head down on a pillow later that night. It was a soul-searching moment (aren’t those the best?)

It was getting dark, but I resolved that I would jiggle my sign until 6:30 p.m. It was a good, but arbitrary, round number.

I had about 10 minutes to go on my self-imposed shift when a man, who looked exactly like Dr. Oz, came up to me and told me he had observed my sign-waving from the high-rise in the Wells Fargo Center where he has a dental practice. He asked about what was and then about my book. He said he was intrigued by someone who was promoting reading. Then he asked if he could interview me for his YouTube channel. He said he liked filming “different” kinds of people.

“Sure, let’s do it,” I said. Immediately, I launched into what the book was about as he kept nodding his head, which I took as approval.

After we finished, I asked him about his slight accent. He told me had grown up in Russia, adding that many people watched his YouTube channel there.

So, there you have it. Strangers, continents away, may now be viewing Life Lessons of a Harvard Reject on their computers and smart phones to learn about the book.

I had a smile on my face, knowing that General Grant was right.

Once when Grant was asked whether he had made the right decision about some costly purchases he had made, he replied, “No, I am not … anything is better than indecision,” he said. “We must decide. If I am wrong, we shall soon find out and can do the other thing. But not to decide wastes both time and money and may ruin everything.”

Right or wrong, I’ve decided to make my stand on street corners, hoping to make your acquaintance soon!

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