The Three Stooges of My Paths

Between academia, the nonprofit world, and publishing, it’s been a not-so-funny comedy of toxicity, and all the mistakes are mine

Donald Earl Collins


The Three Stooges at a Bar, accessed September 2, 2021 (

This is the fourth essay in my series arc of More Confessions From an Educated Fool. This one deals with the “cares of this world,” and how I got caught in a web of them, over and over again, like I was prey for a spider to bite and suck the life out of me.

So, a university president, a corporate senior vice president, and nonprofit senior program officer are all sitting at a bar off East 59th Street, after a long decision-day Thursday. Gus, their bartender, asks in his Hollywood-exaggerated New Yorker accent, “Hey jerks, what is it that youse do for a living, anyway?

Damon, the university president says, “I kneel and grovel for money.”

Steve, the senior program officer says, “I do cartwheels, somersaults, and floor exercises for money.”

After a brief pause, Alan, the senior VP says, “I use ads spots to hold up people for money,” while gesturing with his right hand in his blazer pocket. “Now give me your wallets!,” he says.

Gus pulls out his Saturday night special, and points it at the senior VP. “You mean like this?”

The senior VP says, without batting an eyelash or turning away, “I work for a trillion-dollar company. We get a billion people to sign their lives away every day. Hell yeah, it’s like this!”

The other stooges and Gus laugh.

After putting away his gun, Gus says, “What’ll it be? This one’s on me!”

Without taking a beat, all three gents say, “A vodka tonic.”

I have walked three paths in my career. Academia, the nonprofit world, and writing and publishing (and self-publishing) articles and books. Academia will claim that it isn’t a capitalist endeavor. The nonprofit world will say it claims 501(c)(3) tax status because they are changing the world by doing good works. The corporate world deflects while fully engaged in public displays of affection with capitalism, lips and tongues and spit included. “That’s just the way it is,” they sigh before another round of groping.



Donald Earl Collins

Freelancer via @washingtonpost | @TheAtlantic |@AJEnglish | @Guardian; American Univ. & UMUC history prof. Invite me to write/speak: