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Some of you may have already heard the story of Michael Jenkins. He was the unemployed man seeking employment at Microsoft. The story that has been distributed regarding his story of how he couldn’t get a job because he didn’t have email was meant to be inspiring, unfortunately, it is horribly inaccurate. The corrections and detail have been added to the story so the record can be set straight.

An unemployed man (Michael Jenkins, age 36 – laid off from Boeing) goes to apply for a job with Microsoft as a janitor (he went there to apply for a job as a warehouse supervisor.) The manager there arranges for him to take an aptitude test (the test indicated to the Human Resource official that Michael would be suitable for the janitorial staff – night shift.)

After the test, the manager says, "You will be employed at minimum wage, $5.15 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address, so that I can send you a form to complete and tell you where to report for work on your first day. Taken aback, the man protested that he had neither a computer nor an e-mail address. To this the MS manager replied, "Well, then, that means that you virtually don't exist and can therefore hardly expect to be employed."

Stunned, the man left. Not knowing where to turn and having only $10 in his wallet, he decided to buy a 25 lb. flat of tomatoes at the supermarket (Michael wasn’t very bright. See, he had a wife and children at home who could have used that $10 to buy food for a week. At least he didn’t spend it on booze like he normally did, which was one of the reasons he lost his job with Boeing.) Within less than 2 hours, he sold all the tomatoes individually at 100% profit. Repeating the process several times more that day, he ended up with almost $100 before going to sleep that night. And thus it dawned on him that he could quite easily make a living selling tomatoes. Getting up early every day and going to bed late, he multiplied his profits quickly. (It was on the sixth day of doing this, a merchant on the street Michael was selling the tomatoes on called the police. It seemed that Michael never bothered to get a license to sell fruits and vegetables. Michael was heavily fined for his violation of the law, leaving him with a scant $150 to his name, enough to buy the license, but not enough to pay the rent on his family’s apartment. He ended up selling his car to cover rent and get some groceries. Finally he broke down and visited a loan shark and took out a $500 loan to restart his money making scheme. Unfortunately, he barely could stay ahead of the interest and the loan shark began to take over half his profits. Michael was still making money though.) After a short time he acquired a cart to transport several dozen boxes of tomatoes, only to have to trade it in again so that he can buy a pick-up truck to support his expanding business.

By the end of the second year, he was the owner of a fleet of pick-up trucks and managed a staff of a hundred formerly unemployed people, all selling tomatoes. (Unemployed isn’t exactly the right word. These were illegal immigrant workers which Michael and his loan shark partner paid less than $1.00 an hour. The workers were also required to buy the tomatoes from Michael so any spoilage or lost sales were the responsibility of the worker instead of the management.) Planning for the future of his wife and children, he decides to buy some life insurance. Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan. At the end of the telephone conversation, the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically. When the man replies that he has no e-mail, the adviser is stunned, "What, you don't have e-mail? How on earth have you managed to amass such wealth without the Internet, e-mail and e-commerce? Just imagine where you would be now, if you had been connected to the internet from the very start!" After a moment of thought, the tomato millionaire replied, "Why, of course! I would be a floor cleaner at Microsoft!"

Moral of this story:

1. The Internet, e-mail and e-commerce do not need to rule your life.

2. If you don't have e-mail, but work hard, you can still become a millionaire. (Just so long as you are willing to screw other people over like you’ve gotten screwed over in the past.)

3. Seeing that you got this story via e-mail, you're probably closer to becoming a janitor than you are to becoming a millionaire. (Or, more likely, you aren’t interested in risking your family’s life and comfort for some money making scheme.)

4. If you do have a computer and e-mail, you have already been taken to the cleaners by Microsoft. (Or you run Linux and are laughing all the way to the bank.)