Donald Trump, the New York real estate developer with an ego that should be down-zoned, has written a book -- sort of. Actually, it was really written by a ghostwriter (Tony Schwartz), and it includes a detailed schedule of what a typical week is like for Trump. He calls or meets with everyone famous ("9 a.m. I call Ivan Boesky . . . 1:30 p.m. I tell Norma to call John Danforth") and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is very busy and knows lots of famous people. I am suitably impressed.
In fact, I am so impressed that I, too, have kept a log of a typical day in my life -- the people I met and the ones who either called me or were called by me. This is a day in the life of Richard Cohen.
4:30 a.m. An obscene call. A man breathes into the phone and then hangs up. I cannot get back to sleep.
6:30 a.m. I call weather to figure out what I should wear.
6:33 a.m. I call weather again because I can't remember what I was told.
8 a.m. I arrive at the office and make coffee.
8:02 a.m. I call my answering machine and reset the tape to say that I can be reached at my office. There are no messages.
8:03 a.m. I call my machine to see if I have reset it correctly. I leave a message for myself so I will be greeted by a friendly voice when I get home.
8:24 a.m. I get a call for Victor Cohn, a medical writer at the Post. I try to transfer the call, but Vic's not in.
8:42 a.m. A reader calls to say he liked my column in this morning's paper. I thank him, and he says that normally he doesn't like my stuff, but this morning was an exception. I thank him again.
9:01 a.m. The man from the bank calls to say that a payment is late again. I feign surprise, consider saying the check is in the mail, reconsider and then conclude that the lie is so hackneyed, so much a cliche', that he just might believe it. "The check is in the mail," I say. The man thanks me and hangs up. I feel the way Trump says he does when he closes a billion-dollar deal.
9:04. I call my sister in Boston after thinking about doing it for two weeks. Immediately she asks me when I last talked to our parents. I get no credit for finally calling her, just a reprimand for not calling our mother and father. I say I will call them later that day.
9:05-11:22. No one calls.
11:23 a.m. The school calls to say that my son has a headache and that for the 10th year in a row, I have failed to fill out the medical permission form. May my son be given an aspirin? Is he allergic to aspirin? Yes to the first, no to the second. And the form is in the mail. Can't understand why it hasn't arrived yet.
11:24 a.m. A reader calls to say that normally she likes my work but that the column this morning was awful. I really let her down, she says, and gave away something about myself that I might not have realized. What? I ask. If I don't know, then I'm in worse trouble than she thought, she says -- and hangs up.
11:25 a.m. The executive editor of The Post, Benjamin Bradlee, walks by and I quickly call weather to look busy.
11:27 a.m. Joe the carpenter calls. He needs money for the work he's done on my porch. I ask why. I ask how a $3,000 job now is costing $203,000. He tells me about materials. He tells me about workers. He tells me about his own time, which is carefully logged and is worth something like $102 an hour. I tell him the check is in the mail. He thanks me.
12:01 p.m. Dotty Cohen, my dentist's wife and a charming woman, calls to remind me of my appointment the next day. I tell her I can hardly wait. She laughs. She knows her husband better than I do.
12:22 p.m. I get a call for Martin Cohen, a vice president of the Washington Post Co. It is from a brokerage firm offering $2.8 million in New Zealand bonds. Sometimes I transfer these calls, but today I decide not to. I take the bonds. Bill me.
12:25-1:30. Lunch in the Washington Post cafeteria. Fifty-five minutes on the checkout line, 10 minutes spent eating.
1:32 p.m. Visa calls to ask why I have not sent my payment. I don't hesitate this time. "The check is in the mail," I say. The woman thanks me. As Trump knows, when you're hot, you're hot.
1:48 p.m. I get a call for Barbara Cohen, in personnel, and transfer the call.
2:06 p.m. I get a call intended for the Goddard Space Flight Center. This is what happens if you're trying to get the space center and your finger slips.
2:09 p.m. I try to buzz my secretary and then remember that the buzzer was disconnected months ago. I call her instead. She tells me her dog is sick again. I tell her to send the mutt to my dentist.
3:53 p.m. I get a death threat from an anonymous female. Suddenly I feel important enough to be killed for something I have written. I thank the lady and hang up.
4:16 p.m. A woman calls to ask if I'm the Richard Cohen who went to the Bronx High School of Science. I say no. She asks if I'm sure.
5:12 p.m. A public relations woman calls to see if I want to attend a press conference with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and Mr. Potato Head. I say no without admitting I don't know who Mr. Potato Head is. She then asks if I want an interview with Mr. Potato Head. I thank her effusively and say no.
6:02 p.m. I try to call Sen. John Danforth on the phone to discuss trade issues. His secretary says he's talking to Donald Trump. ::