A German professor’s great idea for helping me become rich06 september 2011, 12:43
I’ve had some interesting jobs during my career – military officer, journalist, public relations person, professor.
But the one that’s been the most fun has been actor.
All right -- stop that snickering! I know I’m no threat to Brad Pitt in the looks department. But there’s plenty of work out there for character actors, as I learned during my nine years in Japan.
At one time or another in that country, I played a company president, military officer, airline pilot, doctor, dentist, professor, football quarterback – I was younger then – and even a cowboy. The roles were in television dramas, commercials, movies and stage plays.
Now I’m going to be in my first Kazakh film. The scene has already been shot. And the role was one I was familiar with in both real life and in my Japanese acting assignments: professor.
KazakhFilm is making a movie with the tentative title of “We Are Bolashakers.” It’s about the extraordinary young people who have been educated abroad under the Bolashak Program and what they’ve accomplished since returning to Kazakhstan.
I’ve met dozens of Bolashakers during my five years in the country. Some have been in government, some in business, some in universities and think tanks, some in the arts, some in the non-profit world.
To a person, they’ve all been outstanding. So a movie about these over-achievers promises to be enlightening and entertaining.
I haven’t seen the script for the entire movie, but one thing I can tell you is that the film is going to have some funny moments.
Consider this scene:
A professor and his students in a classroom in Germany are waiting to ambush a Bolashaker who has been disrupting class by being chronically tardy.
When the miscreant arrives, as usual, 10 minutes late, the entire class – professor included – pepper him with wadded-up paper balls.
The professor – that would be me – pulls a tennis ball from his pocket and warns the transgressor in German: “The next time we’ll use tennis balls!”
The chagrined Bolashaker apologizes, assures the class he won’t be late again, then slinks to his desk to the chuckling of his classmates and the professor.
The scene epitomizes the cultural adjustments that Bolashak students have had to make in adapting to their overseas study environments. Being tardy isn’t a big deal for some Kazakh students – but it is for professors and lots of students in some countries.
And we all know about the vaunted German discipline. Being late is verboten.
By the way, the paper-pelting scene wasn’t imaginary. It actually happened to a Bolashaker.
And it got me to thinking about a way to make money in cahoots with a Kazakh studying in the States.
A student pelted with wadded-up paper wouldn’t think about suing for damages in Germany. The rational German courts would have none of that nonsense.
But the United States, with its often-ridiculous court system, would be another matter.
So now I’m casting about for a Kazakh student who’s attending a Stateside university – someone who’s chronically late, as in the German case.
When I find that student, I’ll send an anonymous email to the professor, suggesting that the professor and his students apply the German disciplinary tactic to the miscreant: pelting him with balls of paper.
Then I’ll coach the student to take a dive when he’s hit. He’ll go down like Charlie Chaplin on a banana peel, holding on to his arm and screaming: “Pain and suffering!”
The university will rush to pay him off – and my commission will be 20 percent of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the student receives.
The student will end up with enough of a fortune to return to Kazakhstan and open his own business.
I will end up drinking mai tais on the beach in Bali – and my first toast will be to the student’s health.