The story that wasn't



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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