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Quick and Dirty

It's The Thought That Counts

Activist Bob Kaufman Helping Would-Be Kidney Donor Find A Job

By Edward Ericson Jr. | Posted 11/21/2007

A few weeks ago, a man named Mark called A. Robert Kaufman to offer him a kidney. Kaufman, a socialist, anti-racism activist, and perennial political candidate, has been receiving dialysis for more than a year, the aftermath of a brutal attack in June 2005 that landed him in the hospital with multiple serious injuries (Q&A, Oct. 5, 2005; "Vital Organ," Mobtown Beat, Dec. 13, 2006). But on Nov. 9, would-be donor Mark learned from his doctor that he was not a suitable donor. So Bob Kaufman is still searching for an organ donor.

Kaufman was impressed by Mark, though, and now wants to do him a good turn. But Mark--who asks that his last name not be used--is pretty self-sufficient, very unassuming, and in no way desirous of acclaim or accolades. He's even hesitant to accept Kaufman's modest offer to help him find a job working indoors (at least for the winter) at a pay rate somewhere north of $11 per hour.

"I've been hiring people to do things for me all my life," Kaufman says. "To find someone that's sober is rare. To find somebody who's not going to steal everything in sight and run hustles on you is rare. To find someone who is punctual and pleasant is rare." Mark is all these things, in Kaufman's estimation, and also too humble to advocate on his own behalf.

Kaufman goes into some detail about Mark's life and residential situation. These are details Mark is not eager to reveal, so suffice it to say that Mark is neither rolling in dough nor living in the penthouse. Kaufman thinks Mark, who is in his 50s, deserves a better setup. But Mark prefers that the focus be on Kaufman's kidney search, not on himself.

"It's not something I want a lot of publicity about," Mark says of his donation offer. "I felt bad that it's not going to work. It's not a big deal."

As Mark speaks on his cell phone, one can hear the bell he is ringing, standing outside a Wal-Mart collecting donations on behalf of the Salvation Army. That is his job.

"He's a nice guy, I like him," Mark says of Kaufman, to whom he offered a kidney after hearing Kaufman's plea during a televised mayoral debate. "I know he's an atheist. He's more ethical than some Christians I know."

Kaufman did eventually convince Mark to allow a reporter to publicize Kaufman's plea for his would-be donor: If anyone has work at fair pay for a good and honest man, Mark is available, more or less.

"I'm a free spirit and I don't want to get tied down to a job too much, or I might never get a day off," Mark concedes. "But yeah, I'm dependable, and I'll work." Of Kaufman, he adds, "he is persistent."

Mark has been described elsewhere as a salesman and a "capitalist," but his ideals are not so far from Kaufman's. "Instead of everyone working to make one corporation richer than they already are," Mark says, "we ought to be working for each other."

Anyone with a job prospect for Mark can contact Kaufman.

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