A now a true story from the guru archives just because I can…
It’s weird how so many of my father’s interests became interests of mine. A lot didn’t, much to his disappointment, I’m sure, but some stuck. Things like wristwatches (he was a Rolex man), scuba diving (I’m a certified open water diver) and photography. My dad loved his 35mm SLR Pentax cameras. And no, the 35mm is not some lens spec. It describes the type of film that went in the camera.
Back then if you wanted a certain ISO, you had to buy that kind of film. It wasn’t just a setting on some fancy digital piece of electronics.
Eventually I’d have a Pentax of my own, which I still have to this day, although it’s been over 10 years since it was last used.
There was this one time we took our family vacation to Southern California. Among other tourist things we did, we visited a little place called Disneyland and that’s where this scary tale begins…
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I tweeted 24 times on Thursday, August 25, 2011. In those tweets I deftly weaved a grand tapestry that captured the limitless spectrum of human intensity. I did it all. I was sweet. I was tender. I was grosser than a fart joke. I was funny. I was witty. I was ironic. I was sarcastic. In short, I was a Twitter version of the Renaissance Man.
Along the way I personally went on a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of human emotion and, I think, the arc of my tweets reflected this.
The day started like most any other: Literally making myself physically ill at the mere thought of going to work. (I have to face the possibility that I may not have the best attitude about my job.)
But then, something weird happened. My morning was acceptable, I was left alone enough, and somehow I got in a pretty good mood.
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In some cultures when an elder passes away, it’s often equated to the loss of a “library.”
Gone with the elder is a lifetime of stories, knowledge and experience. The elder will live on, though, if those stories have been passed down to others in the community.
My boss is the owner of the small business where I work. He decided it would be a good idea to help his 16-year-old son start a business, too. Lord, you should see how he swells up with pride at the thought of his son becoming a capitalistic entrepreneur, a money-grubbing reader of the Wall Street Journal like himself.
For newbie readers of the blog, here are a few things you should know as way of introduction to my boss that should help you digest this post. Like my last boss, he holds himself up as a paragon of Christianity. That’s all well and good, at least until the hypocrisy kicks in. Both have, for example, fraudulent pictures of their retail stores on their websites, a peculiar commonality to be sure. Both of them took random pictures of buildings where their stores had never been located and photoshopped the name of their business onto the photos. And did a shitty job of it, too. Then comically and laughably put those images up on their ecommerce websites.
What are the odds of working for two assholes like that? And one right after the other? Am I lucky or what?
The last boss did it because everything about his business was a lie. The new boss did it to prove to suppliers that he has a retail location or else they wouldn’t sell him product. (He doesn’t.)
They have other things in common, too. Like lying on their websites about products being “in stock.” The argument here is, “Once you get their money, you can usually talk them into something else. Above all else, keep that money!” Note that the customer’s actual needs don’t factor into this equation.
The new boss goes a little further with his elaborate house of cards and lies. That’s because he’s been “blacklisted” by manufacturers of the products he sells because he breaks their rules. So he establishes dummy companies with fake identities and has mail drops across the country so he can keep buying from the places where he’s been blacklisted.
“I’m a good Christian and a good person who’s saved. I’m going to heaven and you’re going to hell. And I break the shit out of commandments like ‘thou shall not lie’ based on my own wants and justifications. Most people like me believe the ends justifies the means.”
It’s always touching when father and son meet and come together in precious family moments. There they were in the office working together on the new ecommerce business which was going to be remarkably similar to the existing one. Just a different flavor of widgets from the product catalog. There they were, as father and son, discussing business names, logos, products, websites, and more. Aye, so touching. It brings a wee tear to me eye.
It was decided that the son’s company would use one of the boss’ existing suppliers. Now this is a bit interesting. With this supplier there’s a woman who is our account manager. The boss has worked hard to cultivate his relationship with this woman. It’s a tactic to get good deals and ply her for information. To this end he frequently checks in with her on the phone, faking sincerity, cracking jokes and demonstrating his most impressive business acumen. (Excuse me while I go projectile vomit.)
He even went so far as to meet her at the industry convention in Las Vegas where they had a meeting and she bought him dinner. Yes, he’s a true player extraordinaire.
The point is that his relationship with this woman and his supplier is very important to him. For his own selfish reasons, of course. And it’s something he’s rather proud of.
He got the supplier on the horn to establish an account for his son’s new venture. That company would need its own account for buying things. And he was told by this woman he has befriended that part of the process was that a business license would have to be submitted.
At last! The heart of the matter.
You see, a business license from the city would cost money. And, above all else, the boss (just like my last one) is a freakin’ tightwad. This presented quite the quandary. It’s basically “I want something but I don’t want to spend the money to get it.” What to do? What to do?
Photoshop to the rescue! The boss put his arm around his son, grabbed his business license, and the download of knowledge from one generation to the next was about to begin! “What we need,” he explained wisely, “is to photoshop this document so it looks like it’s yours. It just needs to look real enough that they’ll accept it.”
It’s another touching Hallmark moment between father and son! Quick! Somebody get me a Lifesaver! [sniff]
Tom B. Taker
Ah. Tradition! The boss is helping his son start a company. Teaching him the basics like how to forge a business license in Photoshop.
May 16, 2011
And so the son earnestly went to work, hunched over his computer, original document in hand, his nose to the photoshop. And I have to admit. He did a good job. A damn good job. When he was done he had a fraudulent document that would even fool me.
The apple had not fallen far from the tree.
The fraudulent document was sent to the supplier and all was well with the world. Just another successful day of “business” in capitalist America.
The boss got a call from his supplier friend. It seemed there was a minor problem with the document he had sent. You see, she took the extra step of calling the city to verify the document’s authenticity. It seems that – somehow – the city had no record of that business!
Mwuhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Eat that, motherfucker!!!!!!!
Sometimes even I have to admit – positive things can happen in this world! Truly they can! Verily I say unto you!
So yeah, that’s the way this story goes down. The boss took a powerful shit on the relationship with the supplier he had tried so hard to cultivate. I guess you could say this is where “What I want” meets “reality.” I have to admit, it was quite a refreshing moment. It almost makes life worth living to be able to witness moments like this.
He basically told her: I don’t respect you. You are dumb enough to fall for this. I am not trustworthy and I lie to you.
That woman must be an angel! I’d like to buy her a beer!
Is the boss contrite? Did he fess up and apologize? Has he learned his lesson? Any regret or remorse for what he’s done? Of course not! He acts as if nothing happened. The only emotion he’s expressed is irritation at getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The end of the story is that the boss went to the city and forked over the money for a real business license and sent that real document on to the supplier. They are now considering his “application” and taking their sweet time, too. Ha ha ha!
Where do assholes comes from? The answer isn’t that surprising. They are carefully handcrafted by existing assholes. Great assholes aren’t born – they’re made.
There was an interview on the radio tonight. A young singer (in college) had written a fairly haunting song and the interviewer was asking him about one of the lyrics. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the singer or the lyrics. Google search fail.
The line was a self-deprecating one, and the singer spoke pointedly about how we get more jaded and disillusioned as we get older. Or something like that.
It got me to thinking.
Were you a better you when you were younger? Are you on the decline and would that singer’s message resonate with you? Are you on your way down?
Or, are you better now than you were back then? Are you on your way up?
In all honesty, I think I’m currently the best me I’ve ever been. I frequently refer to myself as “State of the art Tom.” In fact, this question, which should be all hard and introspective and stuff, is a bit of a let down. There was a time when I was younger I did things I’m not very proud of. I don’t do a lot those things anymore. Case closed, right?
Oh sure, I still have my moments of weakness. And I beat myself up for them pretty damn well. But somewhere down the line, and I’m still not sure how, I got some stuff right. Not the kind of stuff that will ever line my pockets with silver, mind you, but stuff I can be proud of just the same.
It’s about a four-hour drive to the small town where I grew up. I don’t like to visit there too much. I get all maudlin and feeling funny about the past. I still know a lot of the places and buildings, but seemingly everyone I ever knew is gone. My old high school is now an elementary school. And the grocery store across the street is now a church.
There is a Chinese restaurant on the edge of town that holds an especially vivid memory for me. It’s one of the moments of my life that have been frozen in crystal clear memory. I was just a wee youngster at the time. Our little family unit of four – mother, father, sister and myself – had just had a little dinner. I even remember we had lobster with black bean sauce.
After dinner we walked out to the car. Parked next to us was a pickup truck. My dad peered into the back of that truck and saw a power tool of some sort. I don’t exactly remember what it was. But I remember as clear as day what happened next. My dad reached into that truck and took that tool for himself. Apparently he needed one of those things.
Not the best life lesson to pick up from the old man, I’m afraid. And for a while there, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.
Somehow, though, between then and now, I turned out different and took a different path. I still don’t know why. I like to think of it as a road less traveled. Very less traveled. After successfully climbing my own slippery slope, I paused on higher ground to look down upon a species that I now feel like I view from above, oh so proud of my ethics and morals and honesty and all that. I don’t how the hell I got here. And it sort of scares the shit out of me.
It’s been a few years since I visited my home town. Coincidentally enough, the very last time I passed through was literally the day I attended my father’s funeral. We stayed the night there just because it was my home town. But looking at the phone in our motel room made me sad, because it was my home town and I couldn’t think of a single damn person to call.
Then, on our way out of town, there it was. The Chinese restaurant. Right out of my memory and right where I left it. In my mind I can even imagine I know the precise parking spot I still see with such clarity in my mind. Somehow I find it fitting that the place is now dingy and ramshackle. I don’t bother to slow down as we passed, but I did take a moment to feel grateful for how I turned out.
So, my question to you is simply this: Are you on your way up or your way down?
You may not have heard about it in the major news outlets, but earlier this week there was another skirmish in the battle to “defend” marriage.
On December 6, 2010, an “open letter” was signed by 26 religious “leaders.” But let us not divert from the discussion to consider the pompous sanctimony of “open letters.” Perhaps another day.
The letter was entitled “The Protection of Marriage: A Shared Commitment” and is significant because of the broad spectrum of religious beliefs held by the signers. A press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sang the praises of the diversity of the signers that represented “Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Lutheran, Mormon, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Sikh communities in the United States.”
As I read the letter, I couldn’t help but wonder: Who out there watches over us atheists? Where is the leader of my flock?
Here’s the text of the letter:
Marriage is the permanent and faithful union of one man and one woman. As such, marriage is the natural basis of the family. Marriage is an institution fundamental to the well-being of all of society, not just religious communities.
As religious leaders across different faith communities, we join together and affirm our shared commitment to promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman. We honor the unique love between husbands and wives; the indispensible place of fathers and mothers; and the corresponding rights and dignity of all children.
Marriage thus defined is a great good in itself, and it also serves the good of others and society in innumerable ways. The preservation of the unique meaning of marriage is not a special or limited interest but serves the good of all. Therefore, we invite and encourage all people, both within and beyond our faith communities, to stand with us in promoting and protecting marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The press release talks about the “unique meaning” of marriage and the letter speaks of the “unique love” between husbands and wives. Logically speaking, what does “uniqueness” prove? Absolutely nothing.
The letter says that marriage is something “permanent.” Ever heard of a little something called the divorce rate? Have we ever seen such a concerted effort to “defend” marriage against that?
The letter says that marriage is the “natural” basis of a family. How is that statement, beyond religious beliefs, proven in any way?
Let’s say you have a family consisting of one man, one woman, and two children. Now, let’s say one of the parents dies. So sorry, family. According to our nation’s religious leaders your family is no longer “natural.”
Personally I think the letter is an insult to anyone who ever grew up in a family without one or both of the “natural” biological parents, or one where the “permanent” marriage was ripped apart by divorce, and let us not forget everyone who was ever adopted. If we accept the argument that the act of procreation is what makes marriage “natural” then by logical extension anyone not raised by their biological parents is in an unnatural family.
Not too long ago there was a person on craigslist in the “politics” section. He was making reasoned arguments that homosexuals were “shit eaters” and “pedophiles” during the act of defending marriage. He even posted appalling pictures of scatological sexual activity (between two men) as his “proof.” How he came into possession of the image one can only wonder.
I don’t normally engage on craigslist, but I decided to take a shot. I knew it would be waste of time, though, especially for one anyone who expressed such illogical thoughts. Call it an “open letter” of my own, if you will. Here’s what I wrote:
There is a person trolling here using homosexual bashing as bait. If you can’t recognize the pure unabashed trolling for what it is then perhaps you have a problem as well. Trolls are best ignored.
Sexual orientation is NOT the act of having sex or engaging in a particular type of sexual activity. The picture of scatological sex that was posted recently falls into the category of deviant behavior, i.e., it violates our society’s cultural norms. It would be equally deviant if it was two men, two women, or a mixed-gender couple. Therefore you can’t simply show the same picture where one of the participants is female and declare, “See! Heterosexuality is sick!” It doesn’t work that way.
You can have a sexual relationship between two gay men that doesn’t involve anal sex. That doesn’t mean the men are straight.
You can have a sexual relationship between a mixed-gender couple that does involve anal sex. That doesn’t mean the people involved are homosexual.
Orientation is what you are. It is a preference. It is how you feel and what you are attracted to. It is not what you do. Or don’t do.
Naturally my post was flagged down and removed from craigslist in record time. Luckily, as the author, I was able to preserve a copy.
I had a friend named Klaus. One time he expressed this thought: “I don’t believe you can find love in another man’s hairy asshole.” Yes, Klaus was an eloquent fellow. And that opinion fit his worldview and beliefs. But I think it’s safe to say that the opinion is not universally shared. And that’s what makes freedom so special. We each get to make up our own minds.
To me, the big travesty here is a simple one. It is the fact that so many spend so much time and effort try to legally control and quarantine the actions of other people. Adults engaged in mutually consensual behavior should leave each other the fuck alone.
If you leave faith and religion out of the equation, what proof remains that supports the “defense” of marriage?
Uh oh. Apparently I went and did something good. Dammit. Even the best of us can still make mistakes.
I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I used to be involved in Relay For Life, a fund raising arm of the American Cancer Society. I got into it after my dad died of cancer and I bumped into a friend who was running our local event.
My dad smoked his entire life. So did my mom. Fun childhood for me, yeah! My dad would also “breakfast” by swigging directly out of a bottle of Black Velvet to start the day. Cancer wasn’t exactly the biggest shocker ever in his case.
After his diagnosis my dad approached the American Cancer Society. Apparently whatever happened didn’t go well. My dad specifically told me, “I don’t want anything going to ACS in my memory.”
Still, I did go on to do the Relay For Life thing and my dad was a big part of the reason why. I figured he’ll just have to live with it.
Meanwhile, at work, while being forced to answer phones against my will, I happened to take a customer phone call the other day. This woman was untrusting. “How do I know if I give you my money you’ll send me anything?” LOL! Love it! Bottom line is you don’t. There are no guarantees. But even though this is a shithole the employees still care too damn much and actually do a good job. You are buying a piece of crap but at least you’ll actually receive it. We don’t lie, cheat and steal quite that much.
So in the end I convinced her to make the leap of faith and trust us with her $30 USD. 🙂
During the discussion she mentioned she had cancer. I talked to her about Relay For Life, which she had never heard about. So after I was off the phone, I took a minute to drop her a link to the official RFL web site which includes a function to locate her local event. I told her how RFL is an event where teams commit to walking around a track for 24 hours. The opening lap is for those fighting cancer and those who have survived cancer. It is very moving and I had tears in my eyes at the last one I attended. In the evening there is the Luminaria ceremony where people decorate bags for loved ones with cancer or in memoriam. These bags a lit and placed around the track while the names of everyone being honored are read out loud. My wife made a luminaria bag for my dad with little airplanes (he loved to fly) and it was pretty emotional.
I actually haven’t done RFL for a couple years now due to our local event getting all political and nasty, but that’s another story.
Anyway, so I talked this lady into a sale and thought it would be nice to turn her on to RFL. In my experience some people with cancer won’t go, and I try not to pressure, but I at least wanted her to know.
Here is the email I received in response:
When I opened this email it brought tears to my eyes. Above and beyond is all I can say. I’m going to attend the first one that I am able too, and will think of you as I am walking. Not to sound like your mother, but I must say she must be exceptionally proud of you. I know that we have never met, yet I felt a very special warmth in your tone yesterday.
Thank you again for caring.
With much respect,
Yikes! I hate answering phones and talking to customers. How in the hell did something like this happen? “Warmth” in my “tone?” That’s impossible!!!
We’re supposed to forward all “testimonial” style emails to the boss but I’m not giving this one up. No way no how. I do not want my boss knowing something like this no matter what. This could really damage my career!