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The business card that Jack Katchmar lays on everyone within arm's length features a drawing of a man, his muscles prominent, holding a caduceus and standing on a universe. On one side of the card there is a quote from Erich Fromm: "Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is." Plato also gets a call at the bottom: "What is honored in a country will be cultivated there." The legend on the card reads: "American Scientific Technical Research Organization, Inc." Jack says the card tells the story of Norbert Schemansky, who has never heard of Erich Fromm.
Norbert Schemansky is a weight lifter the strongest man this country has ever produced. He is the only American to win medals in four different Olympics, one gold, one silver and two bronze. He has been U.S. champion nine times and the heavyweight champion of the world three times. In 1954, in an international poll, he was ranked the fifth greatest athlete in the world. Schemansky is 42 now, married, and has four children. He also has not earned $3,000 in the last eight years. Nobody knows why or asks why. Nobody knows his name. Nobody, that is, except Jack Katchmar, who is an authority on poverty, and is not known to many people, either.
Jack is president and research director of the organization named on the card, but he holds all the other titles, too. He is the organization. Everyone who has ever received a card eventually learns this, but no one worries about Jack's health. Jack does, but that is only because he does not really believe he is a treasurer without a treasury, a secretary without a phone and a field representative who does not have gas to put in his car. He also does not have any clients except Norbert Schemansky, who is really a friend and a peg on which Jack can hang his indignation at all the injustices ever committed, all of his dreams that were slaughtered in personnel offices. "I just never seem to fit in," says Jack. If one speaks, then, of Norbert Schemansky, one must also speak of Jack Katchmar.
"Honey," Jack says to his girl, Lois, "you got a dollar for gas?"
"Again, Jack?" says Lois, as Jack's eyes and head roll nervously.
"I know, but I left my wallet home."
"That's what you said the other day," says Lois. "And before that you said you had to get your teeth worked over. Six months it's been and you been dollarin' me to pieces."
"I don't want charity," says Jack, unconvincingly.
"No-o-o, not much. So why don't you get a job? You're 40 years old. Jack! You don't need a work permit. You got a fancy degree from Michigan State in—"
"Sociology," interrupts Jack. "And, besides, I got a job."