In his autobiography, Ben Franklin tells how, as a young man, he carried rolls of paper to his printshop in a wheelbarrow. The point — as with so many of his actions — was self-publicity: He made sure to do the wheelbarrowing when the streets were full of potential customers, so they could see what a hard worker he was. (It must not have been much fun to be one of Franklin’s competitors: When someone else in Philadelphia put out an almanac, the next edition of Ben’s own famous almanac printed a supposed prediction of the exact date of his rival’s death.)
Today I might have cut a Willy Lomanesque figure as I rolled a big suitcase up Shattuck Ave. during a steamy Berkeley afternoon. But in my own fevered imagination I was a latter-day Franklin, as the suitcase was carrying boxes of my Red Diaper Baby DVD from a storage unit to my downtown office for (that lovely word!) fulfillment of various orders. As the grandson of a successful store-to-store hardware salesman who also happened to be a communist, I feel a special pride in “moving units” of my communist coming-of-age story (directed by the great documentarian Doug Pray). And as a guy who looks like Ben, I feel proud to be a small-businessowner.
Progressive entrepreneurs of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your bootstraps.