Middle Management

The lowest and largely most disregarded position of power in nearly any work arena is the dreaded, ambiguously gray area ruled by middle management.

Period.

A middle manager is neatly positioned between a honed, yet equally frustrated supervisor and a listless group of barely competent drones who mill about aimlessly, apparently chewing up resources which cause board meeting bar graphs to twist and buckle under the weight of labor costs. So unproductive these workers are, they require someone to oversee their slacking and hi jinks, a manager to answer to an actual boss while walking around pretending to be the boss.

Laddered just below a tyrant in training and barely above the wretched masses, middle managers walk the endless line of constantly pleading for true upper level support while rarely garnering any real respect from subordinates. No one takes a middle manager seriously because administrators perched on higher ground seldom champion anyone below them, especially if the status quo already meets the needs of the few.

Anyone in middle management who is cognizant of any glimmer of reality realizes the futility and how loveless their position’s purpose can be. They are desperately and silently searching for an alternate avenue to their goal while fitfully biding their time, chomping at a bit that seems bent on choking them to death.

Yay, team!

Selling Cars

Keep your chest out and your chin up.

When I sold cars the Trade Center went down and I remember watching the end of a great Super Bowl on a dealership waiting room TV with cock-eyed rabbit ears. Patriots slapping the Rams at the very last minute in a huge upset or something like that.

On the car lot I was what they called a “liner”. One who approached and lined up the customers for the higher paid and more experienced “closer” to come and grind out whatever agreement they could so then the better dressed and shinier teethed “desk managers” could finally approve said deal and we all got paid.

Worked that job for a year selling new and used cars, literally outrunning older guys to bum-rush any living thing that crept into those shark waters, it’s where I learned how to tie a tie 3 different ways and shine my shoes until I could see the future reflecting back at me.

Admittedly, I had a great time, car guys are some perverted and passionate people, a rowdy and joking group of people I could completely relate with. Like ninjas of disguise, ready with social weaponry suited for any occasion or company, crass or class whipped out like blades and masks in front of those who needed persuading. Many of these guys had wiring connected by the black tape of gambling, drugs and alcohol. Any other dangerous compulsion could be quickly spliced into their schedule as to complete their crazy circuit.

Very sensory oriented group of fellas I used to work with. They loved the rush of selling, the intense anticipation, how the possibilities were endlessly unpredictable when it comes to selling big-ticket items and how you can never really judge anyone. Someone could arrive on the lot in a broken-down Ford Escort and wind up buying a Lincoln. And someone getting out of a Humvee will run your smiling ass around all day, driving this and that and when you’ve finally pulled out the tenth car out for Mr. Rockefeller and his fancy shoes, he splits with a “thanks a lot, I’m going to go home and think about it.” Car guys call that a “jack”. They call that “brain damage.”

During my stint as a car guy I:

Learned when to say the exact right word and when to keep my mouth achingly shut.
Learned how to drive any kind of car anytime, anywhere.
Learned that selling is really just helping people find what they want.
Learned a little about how to use cocaine. Off a woman’s back. On a desk. In her office.                                                                                                                                   Learned that vices can make great, towering earners into hunkered down, burned-out robots. 
Learned that people who sell cars are some of the most entertaining group of people to ever gather on a slab of asphalt.
(The same group may also not even blink when they tear your heart out and trade it on the sidewalk if it meant a couple more bucks for a boat trailer or something equally ridiculous.)
Learned to make some of the strongest bonds with a few of those in that group.
Learned what kind of stereo system is required for a 6500 square foot house.
Learned the rush of making a huge hit by earning nearly a thousand bucks for an hour of socializing.                                                                                                  Learned that comptetitive, commissioned sales is X’s and O’s on a chalkboard. It’s war, baby.
Learned that confidence is the answer to every situation.
Learned that the hardest thing to walk away from is money.
Learned that the easiest thing to walk away from is greed.

Had it not been a career instead of a job, I’d have sold cars for a longer time. Had it not been for a few unsavory moments concerning the fleecing of young kids who just wanted a used car but will now be upside down in it a year down the road, then I would have sold cars for a much longer time. Had it not been for that job, I would have never had a desk manager spur my confidence one day by saying “Keep your chest out and your chin up, Reid. And does your grandma know you stole her drapes for that tie you’re wearing?”

I liked that Jack.

Files and Bills and Killers, Oh My.

Files. Bills. More crap in the form of paper than I can barely comprehend. An all-consuming pyramid of impending doom that towers up to the ceiling and hangs in the den like a black cloud with that weird hovering eyeball. It’s Machu Picchu demanding a check or money order. A looming pile of excess, financial drudgery and societal reminders that’s enough to make someone load a machine gun and prop its tripod on the crux of a dormer and clean the trees of squirrels. Not me, of course. Someone else, in theory.

Now I almost understand Texas bell towers and southern university rampages. Eep. Better watch what I write because freedom of speech only goes so far. But if the FBI is reading this than I’m just about big-time.

Book deal, here I come.

Economic collapse and food riots may be in our future but the hope in all the doomsaying is that maybe then we’ll come together and make a car that runs and sells, or maybe we’ll realize that we should help each other from across the street instead of cutting each other off to get to the red light. Or maybe just a health care system that helps us all instead of bleeding us dry and turning our elderly and children into dope-dependant zombies.

Palaver.

It takes the demise of many for those left behind to realize the importance of community.

I had no idea the stack of mail were bills, requests for attention, red lettered warnings of payment due and growing late fees were for me specifically since I’ve changed my name to Reid of La Mancha. And the rest of the credit collectors and public utilities can go jump in a lake because I know that the only reason light and gas cost so much is because it’s funding country club memberships and summer homes for those presently more fortunate than I. Don’t blame the “economy” as to why budgets crunch and prices rise, we all know it’s because the lifestyle afforded to those who are regularly privileged is being threatened and we certainly can’t have that. Who’s going to watch the cheewawa while the disgusting little brat gets her nails done? Who’s going to trim the hedges or nanny the kids, who’s going to cover the Nordstrom bill or the fancy luncheons if we don’t jack up the rates and milk the people just a little bit more?

Seriously.

When the economy truly collapses, when there’s rampant looting and wheelbarrows full of American legal tender are pushed up to the butcher shop for a few flank steaks, when the beggars outnumber the commuters and jumpers from buildings are mundane occurrences, maybe then we’ll know something about “economic downturns”. Buck up, quit yer bitchin’ and be lucky you have a few dollars for a glass of whiskey on the way home.

This is all really just a message to myself. You might not have enough for a glass of anything for all I know. Then again you may be a grinning fat cat who uses whiskey to wash your whitewalls.

Meow.

Better run, squirrel.

No Government Cheese For Me

After applying at a ton of hotels and nearly on the brink of total discouragement, one of them actually called me back and offered me a job. Coincidentally it was the very one that I was most excited about. Goes to show you, if you want something enough, think about something enough and try for something enough, you will get it. Every time.

Providing that a certain background check doesn’t yield any anti-hipster conspiracies or sheep-related incidents, I oughta soon be working at one of the most historied and swankiest hotel bars in all of Portland.

Hot nuts!

Huh?

When did shaving become a small investment? $15 for replacement (disposable) razors? Are they insane? They even have them behind a glass case so those with scruff and a volatile mind don’t just stuff a handful of the spendy little bastards down their pants and high tail it out to the wife whose waiting with the motor running.

I love how supermarkets are SUPER. Giant, formidable structures with sprawling ceilings and endless shelves packaged retail and racks of tabloids about fat, skinny, jealous and cheating celebrities. There is a “family friendly” checkout line where there isn’t a tabloid anywhere near it so children don’t see the Reader’s Digest asking “Is Your Child Sexting?” Thank goodness.

Why do girls with big butts insist on wearing pants that not only accentuate but literally advertise their over-juggly posterior? How can one not stare? There is such a big butt that is toned and structurally sound as a stand-alone part of the body that delivers curvy licentiousness but the ones in my neighborhood are jiggling masses of dimples and rolls wrapped in stretch pants or pajama bottoms. Nothing quite like late night cankles thrusting beneath pj’s and onto suffering flip-flops trudging down the Nestle aisle. Maybe property value has a direct relationship with the intensity and solidity of womens’ behinds.

Who started the first bank? Who thought of the idea of having someone leave their money in a building so said money would then be lent to someone else? And then reaping a percentage? Smart fellas, those bankers.

Fog lights. If you have them (they’re the two extra headlights usually just below your regular headlights) and it’s foggy, awesome for you. Crank ’em, I’m all for it. Safety first. But if it’s a normal night, no rain or anything inclement, turn them off because your sizzling xenon ultraviolet terminator headlights are quite enough, you SUV-driving-never-ever-once-put-it-in-4-wheel-drive-you-product-pandering-suburban-monkey, you.

Don’t get me started on turn signals. I drove through California a few years ago and I swear the cars down there just aren’t equipped with them. They got horns though, so who needs little blinky lights?

Are there white people who seriously think that the blacks in America aren’t still being screwed? Wait,  don’t answer that.

I have my first job interview tomorrow for a job I would absolutely covet. I’m nervous but confident, anxious but ready, scared but cool.

Writing is coming at a tougher draw, the stress of finding work is brimming beneath my collar and I’m finding myself escaping with alcohol and hobbies. Yes, hobbies.

Next time someone mentions the weather as a subject of conversation I’m going to reply with something completely fabricated and absolutely heinous like “I just remembered that as a kid I was touched by my scoutmaster,” or “I had my first nocturnal emission this morning.” No one cares that it’s going to be sunny for the next few days but if someone tells you that their father just went to jail for putting bombs under bums then you have a conversation.

Hugs not drugs. Arms are for hugging. Leave the bombs to professionals.

Suckonomic Downturn

It makes it all worth worthwhile. That certain satisfaction that comes when you do something you set out to do, that moment of relish that fills your chest with pride. The secret is to get someone to give you fiduciary ends for it.

I forgot how cold my town is. How peaceful and quiet it is, how clean and bright and slow and easy. But a little cold.

Nuts.

I had to drive a borrowed car around town to places that helped me re-establish my American existence. Bike insurance, telephone, state, city, county hullabaloo, I que up like the kids in The Wall, a faceless drone who needs to register for tags and legality to travel our fine streets.

Days later and the thought of finding a job is weighing significantly on my restless head. I often wonder if someday I’ll be paid for my daydreaming, my ADD, or my inability to follow the templates of civilized American society.

I’m trying to keep my head high while making Vietnamese coffee and touching up the CV. Running the dog around and returning correspondence, ironing shirts and watching sports, rehearsing my “hire me because I’m the best” script and looking myself in the mirror negotiating this new white streak in my mustache.

It’s getting to pressurous. Enormously so, I have a mortgage, utilities, Vietnamese food that I must have (that costs 10 times as much as it did in VN), and scooter gasoline, dog kibble, DVD rentals, and the clink of ice going into a glass soon to be covered in Scotch costs doe ray mee. My diversions are growing costly as my income is withering like when I egress from the gym jacuzzi. (As if I would ever get in that thing with these health nuts). As if.

In between my morale being slapped around a bit, I keep my confidence ahead of my depression and my hand in my pocket as if I had a pistol loaded with all my strengths, qualities and talents cocked and ready for that money shot.

Gimmie a job. Or I’ll shoot.