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MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS
A NOVEL BY
M. G. MILLMAN
Mind Your Own Business begins
quite innocently with assignments for
a seventh-grade class project. The boys
in Mr. Brody's class are to conduct
business ventures through which they
can gain valuable knowledge in
mathematics and economics. But
things do not go quite as planned.
Punctual Menachem and easygo-
ing Chezky, a true odd couple, find
themselves reluctant partners in a
typing service which produces more
problems than profits. Asher and Yoni
operate the trickiest shlepping service
in town. Noach and Shlomo contend
for the nosh business with some fierce,
old-fashioned competition. Mean-
while, poor Sruly is trying desperately
to peddle his pencils, but only his
mother is buying.
Then, just as things seem to be
falling into place, a missing science
test and some serious ethical questions
create unexpected new complications.
But in the end, the project is success-
fully completed and the results teach
the class more about right and wrong
and human relations than about
mathematics and economics!
Table of Contents
1. DOWN TO BUSINESS
2. EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS
3. THE FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS
4. A GOOD BUSINESS IN THE MAKING
5. BUSINESS BEFORE PLEASURE
6. FOUL PLAY
7. IN BUSINESS
9. GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
11. MONKEY BUSINESS
12. BUSINESS LOSSES
13. A BUSINESS MIND
14. A BUSINESS BREAK
15. BUSINESS TACTIC
16. LOST BUSINESS
17. BETTER BUSINESS
18. THE REWARDS OF DOING BUSINESS
DOWN TO BUSINESS
Chezky ran down the hall at breakneck speed. Lunch was
over, and the final warning bell was still ringing in his ears.
He skidded to a stop as he turned the corner, just in time to
glimpse the back of Mr. Brody disappearing into the class-
room. He was late . . . again.
Mr. Brody, the seventh-grade math teacher, entered the
room and closed the door behind him. Chezky took his time
now approaching the classroom. After all, there was no rea-
son to get into extra trouble by running in the halls now.
This was the third time he had arrived late to Mr. Brody's
class this week, and he was already in enough trouble. He
took a deep breath, turned the knob and went in.
Good, he thought, as he slunk toward his seat. Mr. Brody
was writing out math problems on the board, and his back
was turned. Chezky slumped down in his seat. His relief
proved to be short-lived, though. Mr. Brody turned around
just in time to catch Chezky slipping into his chair.
"Chezky," Mr. Brody greeted his untimely pupil. "So nice
of you to join us. What excuse do you have this time? Don't
tell me that you didn't have a chance to finish your lunch
because you were too busy cleaning up the applesauce some-
one spilled on you. That was Monday's excuse. And don't
tell me that you tripped in the hall coming back and had to
go to the nurse to make sure you hadn't seriously injured
your ankle. That was Wednesday's excuse. Today is Thurs-
day, Chezky. What creative excuse have you conjured up for
our listening pleasure this afternoon?"
"Well," began Chezky, thinking fast. He wasn't sure what
to say. Actually, he had just lost track of the time. By the
time he had realized lunch was over, the last of the seventh-
graders had already left the lunchroom. Only the fifth and
sixth-graders had remained behind for their later lunchtime
shift. By the time he had cleaned up his things and rushed
out into the hall, the final bell had rung. It didn't sound like
much of an excuse, and it certainly wouldn't convince Mr.
"Wait!" said Mr. Brody, saving Chezky from having to
explain anything further. "Don't bother telling me. I think
we've wasted enough class time on you already this week.
Just make sure it doesn't happen again. If it does, you can
rest assured that I will have you spend your lunch periods
eating alone in this classroom, so you will automatically be
on time for class."
Chezky nodded and looked down at his desk, but not
before his eyes met the mocking gaze of Menachem, who sat
directly across from him in the next aisle. That Menachem!
Something like this would never happen to him. He was
never late to anything. He was the most organized and timely
person Chezky knew.
Chezky glared in Menachem's direction, but by now
Menachem was looking up at the board and beginning to
copy down the math problems, a smile still playing on his
Menachem, for his part, just couldn't understand Chezky.
Nothing seemed to faze him. He handed in homework late
and came to school late. Menachem shuddered at the thought.
How could you live that way, he wondered, as he began to
work systematically through the math problems.
Beside him, Chezky sat chewing his pencil and gazing
out the window, stuck on a tough math problem. Too late,
Chezky realized time was up. He watched as Menachem
passed his paper up to the boy in front of him, giving Chezky
one of his superior smiles when he noticed him watching.
Mr. Brody collected the papers from the head of each
row and tucked them into his briefcase for grading later. He
removed a stack of neatly collated and stapled papers, which
he passed out, face down, to each of the boys.
"You may turn over these booklets when I am finished
explaining our newest unit," Mr. Brody said, striding to the
front of the room. "I feel this new project we are about to
launch will be highly educational and beneficial, since it will
serve to give you all a better grasp of the world around you.
Most importantly, this unit will give you a better apprecia-
tion for the math skills you are being taught here at our ye-
The boys exchanged glances. They weren't sure if they
were going to enjoy this project. It never failed: the more
educational and beneficial a teacher felt a project was, the
more work it was bound to entail.
"I am sure that many of you sitting here right now feel
that math is just another one of those meaningless subjects
that teachers force upon you to add to your torture as you go
through your formative years in school."
Mr. Brody began pacing up and down the aisles.
"Most certainly you understand the simple common sense
in learning how to add and subtract, multiply and divide,
but beyond that, you don't see much use in all the other things
you are being taught in math class. The unit I am about to
introduce will prove these misguided notions of yours to be
Mr. Brody stopped beside Chezky's desk and gave him a
long look. Chezky looked away. Math was not one of his
favorite subjects, that was for sure.
"Math is not just a meaningless pursuit," Mr. Brody con-
tinued, resuming his pacing. "It is a highly useful and ben-
eficial skill, which is required knowledge for anyone who
wants to enter the real world. Go into any field of business,
and you will see your abilities at math constantly being tested.
The math skills you acquire today are used by businesses for
accounting, bookkeeping, profit and economic forecasting,
price setting the list goes on and on. Simple skills like graph-
ing data help a business toe the line and get a clear idea of
exactly where they stand."
The boys shifted uneasily in their seats, uncertain of
where this was all leading to.
"The unit I am about to introduce to you will clarify these
points, and will prove to be most intriguing, once you get
started. You will each be able to structure it to fit your own
personal interests under the simple guidelines I have pre-
pared for you."
Mr. Brody picked up the booklet on the desk of the near-
est boy and waved it around so the boys understood exactly
where they would find these guidelines.
"In this unit, you will each be forming your own busi-
nesses, which you will select and build with your own inge-
nuity. You may work on your own, if you so desire, or in
groups of two. The businesses you form must first be okayed
with me, and then you may take it from there."
The classroom erupted with the frantic whispers of boys
calling to potential partners. Mr. Brody looked sternly around,
commanding silence once again.
"The most important factors in any business are growth
and development," he went on, as some boys now tried sig-
naling their interest in a partnership by catching each other's
eyes. "Of major importance to me are the methods employed
by you for taking these steps toward success. I will expect
supplies of graphs and charts, records of your calculations,
spreadsheets, and various other requirements which are de-
scribed in detail in the pamphlets on your desks."
Mr. Brody ignored the moans from his class.
"I will be providing you with the necessary forms to fill
out as we go along, and we will be devoting ample amounts
of class time to this project, so you will understand exactly
how to do everything. We will also be continuing our regu-
lar math class at the same time.
"You may now turn over the detailed instructions I have
given you and look them over. Any questions, please let me
Mr. Brody returned to his desk and sat down, while the
boys began to locate partners and pore over the papers he
had handed out.
"I just want to mention one thing," Mr. Brody said, in-
terrupting them for a moment. "Though your class work will
be very important, the highest grade will be given to those
who not only do all the paperwork, but earn the biggest profit
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