The story that wasn't

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For every handful of stories that make it to print, there’s the few leads you make calls on and decide to kill for one reason or another. An example:

A few months back, a former coworker passed along a business card he'd picked up. At the top it read, “Professional Listener: Need someone to talk to — call.” Next to that there was a thumbnail illustration of a redheaded teenager with two clenched fists, shouting wildly, with three lines leading out of his mouth, implying quite a tantrum.

Naturally, we were excited.

While the rest of us began imagining scenarios involving some impassive dude feigning personal interest, our copy editor Kirsten found this 2005 article, in which a Telegraph writer basically did what I had in mind, and secret-shopped a professional listener.

So, a few weeks ago, I finally made time to contact a Mr. SR Dawson to inquire about his services. Hoping for him to unabashedly say he had no credentials, but that he would sit and listen and even repeat a chorus of, “And how did that make you feel?” or, “That son of a bitch!” at my prompting, I was quickly let down when he described a form of “listening” quite a bit more counseling-like than I expected.

As in, he actually talks a lot, ultimately hoping to teach better methods of communication, decision-making and general empowerment. Think life coach. A former legal worker, now semi-retired, Dawson said he was inspired to start this business two years ago after observing how many legal issues could have been avoided had there just been better communication.

So, for $30 an hour (after an initial $60 90-minute appointment), he’ll listen to your problems and either try to improve your methodology or pass you on to another professional.

Color me disappointed. So disappointed I wish I could just talk to someone about it, someone who’d just listen …

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