Lorato walked into the hotel in awe. There were chandeliers on the ceiling and soft music playing from hidden speakers. People sat on scattered leather sofas, drinking expensive drinks, wearing fashionable clothes.
Lorato got very excited. She’d worked so hard and finally everything would be paying off. Her parents who insisted she go to school for that accounting degree, would be swallowing their words. She could make a good living as a singer, they would finally see that. Look at this place! And the manager had phoned her! They wanted a live musician on Saturdays and Sundays to entertain their guests. He had seen her perform and said she was exactly who they needed.
She asked for Mr Stingy, the general manager, at the reception desk.
The woman there walked with Lorato to Mr Stingy’s office. She knocked softly on his door.
“Tsena!” a voice ordered.
The woman turned to Lorato. “I’ll leave you here then. Good luck.”
Lorato thanked her and entered the carpeted, air-conditioned office.
“Dumela, Rre Stingy, I’m Lorato. You phoned me about performing here at the hotel.”
“Oh yes, of course. Have a seat.”
He looked intimidating in his expensive suit, Lorato thought, but once he smiled she felt more relaxed.
“So, yes, I saw you perform down the street. You’re very talented. Have you been playing piano for very long?”
“Yes, for some years now. Even now, I take both piano and voice lessons three times a week.”
“Wow, I’m impressed. You’ve put a lot of work into this thing.”
“Yes, it’s …my career.”
“Yes, of course.”
“So we’d like you to perform both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday from 3 pm until midnight, and Sunday 2 pm until 10 pm.”
“Okay, that seems all right.” She hesitated to ask, this was always the difficult part. “So how much is the pay?”
“Pay?” Mr Stingy said. “You know this is one of the most prestigious hotels in Botswana. We get all of the top people. You’re going to make amazing connections that will further your career in so many way. It will be fantastic exposure for you.”
Lorato smiled. “Yes, of course. And what will you be paying me?”
“We can’t really afford to pay you.” He smiled his big smile again and somehow it looked different now. “Your pay will be the exposure that we’re giving you. Our company likes supporting the arts. Exposure can be more valuable than gold.”
Lorato thought about it. This was a big fancy hotel, just as Mr Stingy said. If he said the exposure that she got from singing here was valuable, he must be right, he certainly wouldn’t lie. He didn’t seem like a man who would undermine her or take advantage of her in any way. His company supported the arts.
So Lorato performed all night Saturday and all day Sunday. She met so many people. Everyone told her how talented she was. She was thoroughly exposed; Mr Stingy had been right.
The next day Lorato woke up early. She had to buy some groceries, pick up her medicine at the chemist, and then she’d take a taxi home. At the supermarket, she piled her cart high with all of the items she needed. At the till, the man punched the things into the cash register and Lorato gave him half of the exposure that she earned over the weekend. The man thanked her and she went on to the chemist. She paid for her medicine with a bit more of her exposure. Afterwards, the taxi man dropped her at her gate and smiled when she gave him some exposure— she even gave him a little extra exposure for a tip because he’d been so helpful carrying all of her bags up to her house.
Lorato knew she was finally on her way. Her dream of becoming a full-time musician was coming true.
Mr Stingy had been right after all, exposure was just as good as earning real money.
Everybody wanted exposure. Being exposed was what everyone was looking for.
NOTE: This is NOT a true story.
The moral of this story: You either support the arts with money, or you’re a user like Mr Stingy.
Don’t be like Mr Stingy.