Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part THIRTY!

As we have seen, I lost my job at Software Spectrum doing phone
technical support. But luckily for me, I now had some kind of
marketable skill that was in demand.

I had finally found a niche...because, as we will see, there are
still a few more jobs to come, but from here on in, they will
all be the same kind of job...computer support over the phone.
This is the type of work I am doing to this day.

Note here that just because I have FOUND a niche, doesn't mean
that I actually ENJOY it...being a slave to a phone that NEVER
stops ringing is not pleasant. After taking somewhere between
50,000 and 75,000 calls over the past 12 years (not exaggerating),
it does get a little bit tedious.

When describing what phone tech support is, I always like to use
the analogy of walking someone over the phone on how to repair a
transmission...and they don't know what a wrench is or how to use it.
By the end of the day, after taking between 20-50 calls like this,
I am mentally wiped out, and my voice is sore from talking all day.

While I am blessed that I currently have a stable and consistent
type of work, it does not mean I have found my life's calling.
Help desk jobs are not what people aspire to, they are what most
people would call 'entry-level' jobs, something to do temporarily
while on the way up. It is ironic that for ME, it is the culmination
of my working life...I don't expect to ever do any other kind of work.

One of my neighbors worked at a company called Sabre, which was a
subsidiary company of American Airlines. I know a main function
of the company deals with the creation and management of PNR's...
Passenger Name Records...the 6 digit number you always get when
you fly somewhere, it keeps track of your reservation.

(Sabre has since been bought out by EDS, but they still do essentially
the same thing).

With my neighbor's recommendation, I started with this company on
Monday, June 26, 2000. It was still tech support-not my dream job,
but it was a JOB. And not only that, since this was a large, old,
established, and stable company dealing with a high-demand product,
I was quite thrilled to think that finally, although still fairly
late in my life (I was now nearly 44 years old), I had at last found
employment at a solid company that I could expect to keep as long as
I wanted! I recall we celebrated with champagne.

Amazingly (you would think I would be used to let-downs by now),
after working here for slightly more than ONE YEAR...rumors began
to surface about lay-offs...because, as you may guess, this was an
airline-based company, and we all know what happened on September
11, 2001.

To the company's credit, they did what they could to keep me around,
but on Monday, December 3, 2001, they finally had to let me go.

Peace be with you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Insights into The Daughter - Part Two

More quotes from The Daughter's Facebook page:

********************************
Things that happen:

Screaming "I have my phone!!" to avoid being thrown in the water.

Pretending to look for your homework when you know you don't have it.

Shouting out the wrong answer in class with confidence.

Lying in bed Wondering if it's worth it to get up and pee.

Questions on a test that give away the answers to other questions.
(Been there done that!)

Counting people to see which paragraph you have to read out loud.
(I have done this as well.)

Not knowing what to do when people are singing me the birthday song.

********************************
Glimpses into her mind that she still remembers being small:

Middle school is so dramatic.

Life is getting too complicated, I wanna be 5 again.

My email address is stupid because I made it when I was 11.

Back in Kindergarten: sticking out your tongue = flipping them off.
(This is pretty good.)

We used to call people and say "Can you play?" instead of "Can you hangout?".

When we were little, why were we so scared of our parents counting to three?
(Ha, I wonder about that too!!)

Peace be with you.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Moral Music...

WARNING!!!

The following post deals with religious themes, and may appear to be a bit
'preachy'.
If you don't care to read about my Christian beliefs, then you may feel free to
skip this post altogether. Thanks!!

******************************

(Ah, now that we are alone, I may continue...)

I often thank God that I did NOT succeed as a professional musician during the
1980's. It was while my buddy Ray and I were in our 20's that we attempted to
'break in' to the field of Rock Stardom, and, obviously, we never made it.

(The closest we came was performing Ramblin' Guy once on the same stage as
Belinda Carlisle during an open-mike jam session at a coffee-house in Orange County,
California).

I now realize that had I become famous, I would have been the most immoral, self-centered,
egotistical person on the planet. I would have fathered an unknown number of children
from all around the country, and would also probably have become a drug addict, infected
with all manners of social diseases. I would have spread this immorality and disease around
to hundreds of people.

And worst of all, I never would have met my lovely bride, nor have had the privilege of
raising The Daughter.

Now, on a more positive note, if I ever became successful in music today, I believe that
my current Christian standards would allow me to enjoy my success in a positive way. I would
be generous to people in need, would use my influence to help other talented musicians
succeed, and, no matter where I was in the world, would insist on attending a Catholic Mass
at least once per week.

If I am mistaken in this belief, may God NEVER grant me music success!
(I don't have to worry about that, I am too old and too lazy to even pursue it now).

I thank God that He has allowed me to live long enough to repent of my evil ways and has
granted me the grace to live my life in alignment with His Will.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Music...I Don't Love You

Ah, yes, Ray and I may have been years ahead of our time, doing
this 'rappish' ditty sometime in the 1980's...

Ray is doing the electric guitar, bass, and one of the piano parts.
I am doing the acoustic guitar, drums, vocals, and the other piano part.

This song is not really about anyone, so don't take it seriously.
There is some mildly offensive language in it as well, so be warned.

The weird stuff at the very end is because, had it been on an album,
it was supposed to segue into another 'concept' tune.

I include the standard disclaimer:

Not professionally recorded, and it might sound better if
you listened with headphones.

The Link and the lyrics appear below:

I Don't Love You

C. I don't love you
I don't love you
I don't love you no more

1. I tried to tell you the night before last
But you wouldn't listen, must have been scratchin' your ass
I tried to make you understand
But I think you were in no man's land

I also tried to tell you when
You were cooking me breakfast
And cleaning the den
So you better get it straight, this time bitch
'Cause I'm closing down this deal
And there's just one hitch

C.

2. Well, I think you'd better face it, jack
You'll go out on me no more
And that's a fact
I've had it to here with your lying schemes
You're no better off than my wet dreams

I don't forget the time I caught
You with another man, you dirty slut
And one more thing, you lying bitch
Come over here and scratch me, I've got an itch!

C.

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Am A Clown

Sometimes it is better for me to keep my mouth shut.

I don't think I am as smart as most people. I sometimes just don't 'get' it.
This happens to me at home, and at work. I'll ask a simple question and get a
smart-ass answer, as if what I am looking for is so obvious that I am a
clown for not seeing that.

It's better for me to just keep my stupid mouth shut and be ignorant than to
have someone look at me like I am dumb. I feel better that way. I am a clown.

Sometimes at home, if I ask someone to repeat what they have just said, I get
told that I am 'deaf'. But if they can't hear ME, it is my fault, because I am
mumbling. I am a clown.

If I ask someone to remind me what date a specific event is on, I am told in a
pretty stern voice that I have already been informed of this.
Good! Maybe I AM stupid, but could you please remind me again? Thanks!
I am a clown.

If there are questions about certain facts or events in our house, it is
usually me who is mistaken.

I make too much noise when I wash the dishes. There is never a convenient time
to do it without annoying The Daughter. It could be early morning, late night,
right before bed, right after getting up, whenever, it's just not a good time.

"Can't you do them later??"
"When? When can I do this when it doesn't bother you?"
Sometimes I feel like just tossing them all on the floor and saying "Fine, do
it youself then!"
I am a clown.

If I ask The Daughter if I can make her something to eat, instead of "No-thank you,"
I get "Go away, you smell weird!".
I didn't raise her that way. She doesn't pick up these manners from me, I don't
treat people like that.

Trying to be nice to someone and then getting treated that way makes me feel
like a clown. I am better off just keeping my stupid mouth shut. I think I should
just keep to myself.

I'm sorry that when someone asks me to fetch them something, I sometimes bring
the wrong thing. I'm sorry that I can't read your mind and get the exact size
pan you are looking for, so please don't make me feel like a clown. Maybe next time
you should just get it yourself.

Sorry, just having one of those days, I guess...

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-nine

So here I am at the end of 1996, new town, new state. I did
have the benefit of some kind of computer experience, however,
which put me in a better spot than I had been in before.

After a few weeks of searching, I got a job as a contractor
working for GE...they had a small computer shop that leased
out computers for trade shows and conventions. We loaded
computers up and brought them to the Dallas Convention Center,
hooked them up, and then tore them down and brought them back
to the shop after the convention was over.

As a contractor, though, I was not accruing any vacation pay.
But after several months...I think Christmas had passed, so we
were now in the year 1997...they offered to take me on directly.
There was a catch, however...there would be a cut in pay.

I was not thrilled with that, so I continued to look for something
else. I was lucky that it was a good year economy-wise, as well
as the tech industry being healthy in Irving, Texas. The trade
school I had taken turned out to be one of the few things in my
life that actually had some benefit.

I got a tech support job with a company called Software Spectrum.
We did phone support for Microsoft, it was my very first job
doing phone tech support. I started this job on March 3, 1997.
(As an aside, a few weeks after starting this job, The Daughter
was born).

At this job, I supported network engineers who needed advice and
technical assistance in 'planning, deploying and configuring'
their Microsoft Exchange email servers. It was scary and
intimidating at first, but now I have done this long enough where
the most stressful part of the job is trying to explain to someone
over the phone how to do various tasks on their computer when they
are not computer literate.

One of the great perks of working in Microsoft's environment was the
unbelievably lax dress code...shorts, sandals, flip-flops, tee shirts,
everything was fine, as long as it was clean, not torn, and did not
contain any offensive logos.

If you walked in wearing a suit and tie, you would have attracted
more attention than if you had put on pajamas and a bathrobe.

I had this job for a little over 3 years, a good run by my standards.
I lost it because of many complicated reasons. Generally in my past,
I lost my jobs because of lay-offs, slow-downs, and dis-satisfaction,
but really have not been actually FIRED from anything except maybe
that Tax Service sales job back in 1993, but that was unfair on their part.

In this case, let me just state that while following standard company
procedure on a call, I failed to recognize that the caller on the
other end was a 'favorite' of the owner of the company, and should
have warranted free technical support. Of course, I had no way of
knowing that, but that did not stop them from releasing me.

The painful thing about this was the fact that I had been one of
the top performers of the company for the past few years, had nothing
but glowing and positive letters from past customers, never missed
a day or came in late, and had to endure a belittling and humbling
chewing out from them before they showed me the door. This was my
reward for being a hard worker. This is why I hate Big Business.

Sometimes I think that the people who sit around all day and collect
welfare and unemployment because they don't want to work are the smart ones.

I went home and picked up The Daughter from daycare...she was three
years old at the time. I gave her a bath, played with her, and then
put her to bed. I was glad that she was too young to realize that
her old man had just lost another job.

This was on May 16, 2000.
I was 43.

Peace be with you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Observations on the Development of a Child's Mind

Take a good look at this picture, and then think about it for a bit:

My first thought was that it is very cute and very funny. I wouldn't want to
be the parent that has to clean this mess up, but the photo itself is a
definite keeper for them.

After a while, I began to realize that these darling little kids had no idea
that what they were doing was not socially acceptable. Like the children they
are, they are just learning the way things work, playing, and having a good
time doing it.

Now look at it closely...notice that not only is this white stuff all over the
floor, smeared on the TV, sofa, and on THEM, but notice the happy expression on
the lad's face. He is genuinely pleased with himself, and there is no hint of
remorse or fear on his face.

(I have to give credit to the parent\caretaker of these kids, if they had time
to discover this carnage, and still run to get a camera without screaming at
the innocent dears, they are among the most patient of people).

This gives us a glimpse into the virgin clean slate of the mind of a human
being. They are totally innocent of this deed, and have absolutely no way of
knowing that one should not destroy their living space.

Think about it...can you imagine walking into your living room and splashing
paint all over the floor, even covering yourself with it? At their stage of
innocence, they would probably think nothing of taking a hammer and smashing
all the walls down too, if they could! They would see nothing wrong with it.

What I wonder about is this...suppose, theoretically speaking, that these kids were
left on their own until they grew up. They were totally unsupervised by any
adult or authoritative figure, were not guided or influenced in any way, and
managed to survive on their own to adulthood...while still living in this house.

Would they, at some point, come to the conclusion on their own that they
shouldn't be defacing the house? How long might it take? Do people learn what
behaviors are acceptable by example only, or do you think it is human nature
to try to keep your immediate environment at least semi-orderly?

We must always remember the influence we have on our children...it is our
responsibility to instruct them on the correct behaviors.

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Insights into The Daughter

So I went to The Daughter's Facebook page to see what she was up to.
They all have a page of their favorite quotes. She may have written some
of these on her own, but I know a lot of them are gleaned from different
web pages that you can link to, I'm not cool enough to really understand
the intricacies of Facebook, but these give me an insight into the dark
recesses of an Eighth-grader's mind.

I am taking a chance with my life here by even posting this, since I know
that The Daughter has read at least one of my posts...I really hope she
doesn't see this one!

General Sayings & Quotes:

Wouldn't it be ironic if you choked on a life saver?

I mentally say “Wed-nes-day” when writing the word “Wednesday”.
(I do this!)

Everyone's house has a different smell. BUT I CAN'T SMELL MINE!

Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, forever to repair.

I will go slightly out of my way to step on a crunchy-looking leaf.
(I do this too!)

What other number pencil is there but 2?

I like your makeup...LOL JK, it looks like you got gang-banged by Crayola.

If I text a person in the same room as me, I stare at them 'til they get it.

No, you don't look cool with your middle finger up when you pose for pictures.

I'm nice to the weird kid, so he will spare my life when he snaps.

I like it when I pause a movie and the actor's face looks funny.

Friends buy you lunch, BEST friends eat your lunch.

If you want the rainbow, you gotta go through the rain.

Why do teachers care if we hug? At least we aren't shooting each other!

Shut up Sophomores, you were a Freshman like, 10 minutes ago.

"yo banana boy" IS SPELLED THE SAME WAY BACKWARDS -- is it too amazing?

"Let's eat Grandma!" or, "Let's eat, Grandma!" Punctuation saves lives.

If I miss 11/11/11 11:11:11 I will be pissed.

I always wonder where a hobo gets the marker for the sign he/she holds.

Hey Cupid, can you shoot both of us next time?

When I clear my calculator I click the button a good 14 times.
(I do this.)

You're 12. You smoke. You're not a virgin. Your bf is 17? Are you proud?

"Patrick! I'm claustrophobic!" "Nice Try Squidward, but there's no Santa here."

I still sing the alphabet song to remember alphabetical order.
(And I do this too!!)

111 111 111 x 111 111 111 = 12345678987654321 ...Mind. Blown.

Peace be with you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-eight

In 1996, I had been working at G-Tech for about two and a half
years...not a bad run for someone of my caliber. The endless
driving was starting to get old, I usually racked up about a
thousand miles a week, but I still appreciated the steady job.

The value of our house in Palmdale, however, had plummeted due
to another recession, and we owed a great deal more on the house
than it was actually worth. Now, unless you plan on selling, this
is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you can anticipate an
upward swing by the time you DO plan on selling, and it also makes
property tax more manageable.

My bride worked for the phone company. She has had that job all her
adult life, and in fact, still works there now. (I often wonder what
it must feel like to have a single stable job for that long).

Now, being very intelligent, well-educated, and very good at what
she does (whatever that is), when her company offered her a job
transfer to Texas, with a package to buy us out of our upside-down
house, along with all moving expenses, we decided that it was a
good idea. Since she was the one who had the career-type job, and
was making more money than I was, we would have been fools not to
take it.

(My bride is one of the smartest people I have ever known, and she
has worked very hard in her career). I sometimes wonder what she
could possibly see in me, and I know she loves me because she sure
as hell didn't marry me for my money!

I gave notice at G-Tech, but continued to work there while my bride
moved to Texas ahead of me to get an apartment and get settled in her
new office in Irving, a Dallas suburb. She also hooked up with
a real estate agent so we could look for a house.

I wasn't TOO worried about finding a job...I sent out slews of resume's
to various companies in Irving, Dallas, and Forth Worth hoping I could
get a job as a network engineer. As much work as I had gone through
to get my network certification, I was rather dismayed that nobody
would hire me without having experience...not even at an entry-level
job! So how do you GET experience? Work for free? I guess I was going
to have to work pretty hard at getting a job again.

So we moved to Texas in October 1996, I was 40 years old. It was
pretty depressing to have to be going through this unemployment
crap at this age...I was not a kid anymore.

Peace be with you.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-seven

I finally finished my trade school education in late spring
of 1994. I had done really well, and passed everything with
good grades. (I don't think we were graded with letters, but
you get a certificate. I think I aced everything).

True to their word, they enrolled me in a placement service
so I could go out and get a real job for a change. I was
hoping to get an entry-level job working as a network engineer,
but my Novell training was not complete yet. But I did get an
interview with a company called G-Tech.

G-Tech is the outfit that manages the lottery machines in many
states...I am not sure if they do ALL of them, but they did in
California, and I know they do here in Texas as well.

I remember that I arrived to the interview very early, so as
to not take any chances, and due to my heavy schedule, and me
being tired all the time, I took a little nap in my car while
I waited. Can you believe that I almost over-slept and was
nearly late for the interview? I woke up just in time, but
I bet I appeared pretty groggy during the interview!

I guess they liked me, because I got hired...and a great job
it was! (In fact, had we not moved to Texas, I may have still
had this job today...but that part is coming).

It seems I must have secured this job in early Summer 1994,
because I know that I had just completed my training when I
came home one day and the OJ Simpson 'low-speed' chase was on
the news, which would have been June 17, 1994.

(This was also around the time my seventeen-year old cat died).

This job was pretty good in lots of ways. First, we all had
a company van to drive, because we were loaded up with computers,
TV monitors, and a myriad of spare computer parts and hardware.

We installed, maintained, and repaired the little lotto machines
that are so common on the counters in bars, liquor stores, markets,
and various other businesses. We also were responsible for the big
self-service 'kiosks' in many supermarkets...the ones that would
actually print a lottery ticket, or dispense the 'scratcher' tickets.

We all had fairly large territories to cover, and we would hit each
business once a month for general cleaning and maintenance, or
refilling supplies. If something broke, we got paged out to take
care of it, so if I was not actually working, I was always on-call.

My hours were nights and weekends at first, but after working
there for some time I managed to get a normal day shift...but I
was on-call as well, so if something broke in the middle of the night,
I would have to take that service call.

Now, I have to dispel a myth that some people just can't grasp. As
employees, we were forbidden to play the lottery, because if we won,
we would have been in-eligible to take the prize. Of course, we
still played, it was just common knowledge that if we DID win, we
would just give the ticket to a trusted friend, and take it from there.
My bride was not eligible either, but my father-in-law would have been
legal to take the prize.

But remember...the lottery numbers are drawn randomly by selecting
different balls...there is no way to know beforehand what the numbers
will be. I was surprised at how many people I encountered every day that
thought they were being cute when they asked me to 'give' them the
winning numbers! Now, if I could really do that, don't you think I
WOULD have given them to my father-in-law?? 'Nuff said about that.

Anyway, I turned 38 that summer, and was enjoying the job...really!
My territory was vast...since I lived in the high desert, I had a
southern territory in the Valley, and a Northern one that stretched
into Central California. I had one account in Bishop...which was about
250 miles north of where I lived...and if I had a call going up there,
it shot the whole day. This was not bad at all...where else can you have
a job where you drive a company van for 4 hours...get to an account, spend
an hour there, and then drive home for another 4 hours?

Click the map to see my territory:

One day while driving up Interstate 5 into Hungry Valley (Near
Lake Castaic), after servicing an account, a heavy, cold, icy fog
descended on the area. While attempting to drive home, a pretty
major chain-reaction accident occurred just a few car lengths in front
of me. The entire freeway had to be shut down for a few hours, and
as I recall, there was at least one death.

If I had entered the freeway just a minute or two sooner than I did,
I could have missed all this and would have been on my way...OR...I
could have been involved in it. I considered it my lucky day.
I shot some video of the aftermath, it was quite a scene.

If the video below fails to play, you could also try this link
video
This was all during the midst of the OJ Simpson trial, which was
broadcast on our local AM radio station, KFI, all day. I used to
love getting these long-distance incidents, as the signal from
KFI was strong enough that I could hear it for most of the trip,
and I was provided with much entertainment during these long drives!

In the meantime, I finally finished my Novell exams, and passed, so I
was now a Certified Novell Engineer, which I hoped to use to advance
my career.

I worked with G-Tech until October 1996, when we moved to Texas.
So, as you will soon see, not only did I end up unemployed again,
but in a completely different state...so my endless progression of
jobs is not done yet...I still had a few more to go...

Peace be with you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Music...Scar De O Day

This song is pure nonsense.

Inspired by an Elton John song on his Caribou LP
from 1974 called "Solar Prestige A Gammon".
The song had made-up words and I don't think was
supposed to mean anything.

This song has potential, but there are lots of technical
glitches, such as drop-outs, sudden bassy over-
modulations, and lofty illusions that I am a singer!

It is just me playing, but it is tough to get everything
timed correctly when you are a one-man band!

I include the standard disclaimer:

Not professionally recorded, and it might sound better if
you listened with headphones.

The link and the lyrics appear below:

Scar De O Day

1. See radda da culcha
Be nombe pa doo
See radda da culcha
A nom pa coo

2. Oh, catching residing
Pat tippy a nom
Oh, catching residing
Za la track bum

C. Put mooching able scar de o day
Put scar de o day
Ka-hacking piping scar de o day
pipe scar de o day

San jay-pull keena scar de o day
Keena scar de o day
Oh, dimple so my scar de o day
So my scar de o day

3. For putting I shestet
Pick oh veroo pin
For putting I shestet
Da long ja kim

4. Nom lackey and sober
Can dereeo lid
Nom lackey and sober
So keep I pid

C.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-six

At the end of 1993, I was 37, still going to trade school during
the day, and working at 800-Direct in the late evening. Computers
were coming into common use for most people, and I was learning
about electronics, servers, and the internet. Since my trade
school also had a placement service upon completion, I was pretty
confident that I could find a job with a company working with
computers or LAN management.

I was also taking a course on weekends where I was going to try
to become a Novell Certified network engineer (CNE). While my
studies for the trade school were not too difficult for me...I was
able to pretty much ace every single test I took with them...the
Novell learning was one of the hardest things I had ever done...
even up to this day.

So I was handling a pretty tight schedule...Computer school 8 in
the morning till 2 in the afternoon, and working at the answering
service from 3 PM to midnight, Monday-Friday. I took my Novell
school on Saturdays, and was able to read and study for this stuff
during slow periods at work late at night. But I only had a few
more months to go, I was really starting to feel like I was getting
my life in order.

But then, at 4:30 in the morning, on Monday, January 17, 1994, came
the Northridge Earthquake, a magnitude 6.7, which is pretty high on
what they call the Richter Scale.

Now, before I start to complain about the wrench that this threw
into my plans, let me count my blessings:

1. While our house was shaken up pretty badly, our town of Palmdale
was far enough away to not sustain any damage.

2. The quake came early in the morning on Martin Luthor King Day...
a holiday for many people. This combination prevented what could have
been a deadly catastrophe for people that could have been driving the
freeways...as it was, they attributed about 72 deaths to the quake.

3. Police Officer Clarence W. Dean was killed when his motorcycle
plunged off the end of the destroyed freeway connector where Highway
114 feeds into Interstate 5. The rebuilt connector bears his name to
this day.

Since the destroyed connector was really the ONLY easy way for commuters
in my town to get to the Valley, this presented quite a problem for me...
HOW was I going to continue going to school and to work? There was an
alternate route, however...taking Sand Canyon off the 114 to Little
Tujunga Canyon Road, leading into the Valley. Of course, myself and a
few thousand other people had the same idea...which meant very heavy
traffic, and a lot of time spent. But at least it was an option.
Click the map below to see the details:

And finally, I dug up an old video I had taken a short time after
the earthquake. It is very 'quaint'.
If the video below does not play, you could try this link:
video

Thank the Lord, I survived, and was able to continue my education
and my work.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-five

I had just been released from my job of trying to sell income tax
services to local businesses in the San Fernando Valley.

I realized then, half-way through 1993, at the tender age of
37, that computers were becoming more and more common, and since
I had always been an 'electronic gadget' sort of person, it might
not be a bad idea to start learning something about them.

I started going to a trade school to learn about computers and
electronics. I was still living in the high desert...Palmdale,
California, and the school was located in the Valley, I believe
it was Van Nuys.

It was going to be nine months of classes, five days a week, and
the hours were 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. I would have to find me a job
where I could hopefully work early afternoon to late at night, so
I could at least be at home with my bride at night.

First, I thought I would try driving a taxi, since I was a pretty
experienced driver. They ran in twelve hour shifts, so they said
I could start working the 3:00 PM to 3:00 AM shift. I wasn't real
sure how I was going to be able to fit SLEEPING into this
schedule, but I'm sure it wasn't going to be 5 days a week. It
might have been only 3 or 4 days a week, which I thought I could
handle if it was Saturday, Sunday, Monday and maybe Tuesday.

I started in the middle of my shift for the first night, and it was
not very comforting. The very first fare that I picked up was in
the middle of the night, around 1:00 AM, and I was instructed to take
him up to a remote and dark location in Topanga Canyon.

Starting from the Valley, Topanga Canyon Road runs south and goes
through some pretty remote mountains towards the ocean between
Malibu and Santa Monica. As we pressed on through the dark and
twisty road, my mind was running overtime going through various
scenarios where he would try to rob or kill me...this was a real
fear that I had, and I couldn't believe I was going through this
on my VERY FIRST FARE!

It all worked out, however, and we got to his destination, he paid me,
and I was on my way.

There was another time where I picked up a very elderly man so
I could drive him to 7-Eleven where he would go to use the ATM.
Normally, fares were calculated by a combination of miles driven
and time elapsed. I know these things are probably all modern and
computerized today, but back then, it was still the old-fashioned
mechanical meter box where you had to grab this big lever and
pull it down to start counting.

The meter was running when we got to 7-Eleven, and the elderly
gentleman asked me to wait for him, and to keep the meter running,
like we would be required to do. And then I watched, as the old
sir began to slowly shuffle over to the store at about the same
speed as the growth rate of bamboo.

It took him several minutes to make his way to the door, and I
painfully watched the meter click off twenty cents every fifteen
seconds. Now, I am not afraid to take money from fares for
legitimate services, but there was no way I was going to watch
this man get charged 80 cents a minute while I was sitting in my air-
conditioned car waiting for him, especially in light of the fact
that there was really no telling how long he would actually be IN
the store.

I had to reach up and crank off the meter until he came out, and
when he was within a few feet of the car on his way back I turned it
back on. I bet with the computerized gizmos today, I wouldn't have been
allowed to do that.

(I don't recall that I took this as 'stealing' money from the company, I
think I made up the difference myself, it was only a few dollars, I could
afford that).

I worked this job for a couple weeks, and made decent money from tips (at
least, compared to what I was used to making so far in my life).
But the cabs were not maintained very well, and a few times I
had breakdowns. I would have to radio in my location and wait for
someone to come pick me up and bring me back to the depot. This would
be a wasted night...no money made, and no sleep either.

Since I was going to my trade school during the daytime, I knew that
if I could pick up a more comfortable job to work in the late afternoons,
knowing it would only be temporary, I decided to try to hook up again
with the answering service I had worked at a few years back...800-Direct.

This worked out just fine for me...I went to school from eight in the
morning till two in the afternoon, then worked at 800-Direct from 3:00 PM
till around midnight. I was able to spend most of the night at home with
my bride, and didn't have to get up again until 6:00 AM.

I think I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Peace be with you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!!

Since today is my 54'th birthday, I would like to say howdy
to all you wacky bloggers in Blogworld. As MY birthday gift
to YOU, I present a VideoBlog!

Since I am posting this after midnight on August 3, it is
technically my birthday right now.

And all I want for my birthday from my bride is for her to
take me out to breakfast this morning to IHOP, which I will
enjoy immensely after sleeping in...since we are all on
vacation all this week.

And from The Daughter, all I want is a big long hug.

Some of you 'older' folks may remember a kid's show called
Sheriff John...if you were fortunate enough to have a TV...
And this is the little ditty he used to sing for the kids
watching the show when they had a birthday.

And if the video below does not play, you could try This Link:

video

Peace be with you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

My Illustrious Career...Part Twenty-four

Early in 1993, the embroidery company I had been working for
completed their re-location to Las Vegas.

Since I needed to get a job in a hurry, I turned to...take a
guess...another sales job!

Now, it's not that I love sales so much, in fact, I hate it...
but it is the only way for a slob like me to get into a quick
job, which is why I fall back to it so often.

I did a job where I had to go to different businesses and try to
set them up with a contract to bring in vending machines for snacks.
I had a pretty hard time with this one, and I did not do it for
very long.

(You must think I am quite the flake the way I blow through these
jobs...and you just may be right to think that).

Next, I answered an ad where I was going to try to sell tax services
to businesses. I must have impressed them during the interview,
because I ended up spending a week in Atlantic City, New Jersey for
training. I did well at the training, and when I arrived back home
they started sending me out.

I recall that the leads were secured by some office personnel that
were doing out-bound solicitation calls to small businesses in
the area. They set appointments for me to go out to them and try
sell them our income tax service. It was pretty good in the sense
that these were confirmed leads, so I was not just 'cold-calling'.

I don't remember what kind of money I was to make, or if I even
made any money during this run, because they really didn't give me
the chance to work it long enough.

I had done enough sales to recognize that often, you don't make a
sale during the first visit. If you try to pressure people too hard
on the initial call, you end up just pissing them off and they
will not buy anything. In this kind of sale, you have to lay out
the information for them, give them all the facts, and set a call-back
time for a return visit to discuss their questions.

The people that hired me expressed concern that I was coming back
from the initial call without securing a contract. I remember that
after only a few weeks, they began sending me out on sales calls
with one of the senior big-wigs to see what I was doing wrong.
On the calls we went on together, this big-shot pro did not get
any firm commitments either on his first try.

This did not stop them from 'letting me go', however, due to
poor performance. You would think that after going through the
expense of a plane trip from California to New Jersey, a week's stay
in a decent hotel with all meals included, as well as whatever the
training program itself had cost them, that they would at least look
at the system a bit closer before just canning me after about 6
weeks...especially in light of what their top executive was able to
'accomplish'.

This turned out to be the very last job I would ever do that had
anything at all to do with sales.

Peace be with you.