I’ve done my fair share of private tutoring, and a few years ago I visited the Sunny Isles residence of a Russian seventh-grader to drop some algebra knowledge. When I walked in, her long-haired, undershirt-clad father — an absolute Drago of a man pushing 300 muscly pounds — was in the kitchen holding a butcher’s knife. On the cutting board in front of him sat a whole not-yet-baked potato. It was our first meeting. I introduced myself. He didn’t. I asked where I could find his daughter. He pointed — with his knife — down the hall. Down the hall I went, hoping it wasn’t the last hall I’d ever have the pleasure to know.
Seventy-five minutes and about as many multivariable equations later, I approached the father for compensation. Leading me to his bedroom, he asked how much he owed me for the hour. I explained the session had been 75 minutes long. He asked if I intended to nickel and/or dime him. I said no, that I merely wanted to be paid for my time. He eyed me coldly as he reached into his bedside table and pulled out a stack of bills the height of a club sandwich. With notable manual dexterity, he thumbed a few bills into his hand and then extended the money toward me. I took it, left, never returned.