Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The power of film.

Beth and I NEVER get to go to the movies. When we lived in New York we used to go to the Parkway Theater quite often. Two movies for $1. Good deal if you got there early enough to get one of the 5 seats that were still kind of comfortable.
Antrim New Hampster was not the place for movie buffs. It is a long drive home when you are done. The Cinema 1-2-many Complexes have small screens, lousy sound with an equalizer adjusted by a high school kid, and such thin walls that you are keenely aware of the explosions happening in the movie next door that you should have seen.

While we have been living the hobo life, we haven't seen any movies, but more importantly, we haven't seen any advertisements for movies. We see a listing of 27 movies on the sign at The Cinema 1-2-many Complexes as we drive by, and it looks like coded messages for the enemy.
We have no idea what anything is.

Cris G. likes to go to movies. She goes with her friend Jeannie every Friday. Jeannie went to TWO movies on Thanksgiving with her daughter and was telling us about them during our 2nd Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat. One was a story about Disney movies that come to life. It has a lot of talking animals. Jeannie says that Cris loves movies with talking animals.
She also saw August Rush. A story about a kid and music. It has an ending that just stopped. She wasn't fond of the ending. The Disney story has talking animals. I asked Jeannie if we were only going to see ONE movie, which one would you recommend? "Well August Rush is a great movie, but Cris really likes talking animals." Later Jeannie suggested to Cris when we weren't in the room that August Rush might be too hard for us to see becuase of our background with Derek and all, but I didn't hear that suggestion and Beth doesn't enjoy animation (even though I happen to LOVE it, go figure), so I made the decision to see August Rush. Music, no animation, what could go wrong?

August Rush was fantastic. The music was awesome. The story was good without being excessively sappy. The ending was perfect. I was having some trouble with seeing the screen because my eyes were very watery from some pollen that was in the theater, but it was dark, so no one noticed. My nose was running badly, I needed a box of tissues, but that was the pollen too, I assume. I thought that it was SUCH a powerful movie. I loved it. You should see it at a theater before it goes away OR see it at someone's house that has a good screen and sound system when it comes out on DVD in another 27 days or so. Do NOT see it with someone who likes to talk during movies.
I can't prove it, but I think that it was a great movie even for people who are NOT parents without a child. Wow.

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A quick rant.

This morning I started my day with a quick little rant about those emails that want you to spread the word -- NOW. It isn't very good, and it is full of false information, and serves no purpose, but maybe you should read it before a lightning bolt hits you.
Why are those spotted dogs sitting out in the yard? W-w-what are they? Are they smoking? What is that smoke? Are those? They are! Hellfire and dalmations! Aaaaaaaargh!
Here is my rant: Chainmail from a bully

chemo sabe said...
OH I AM SOOOO with you!! I am personally insulted by chain mail. Especially the religious ones. I TOTALLY believe in the power of prayer. BUT those stupid "if you send this within 5 minutes to 10 people, God will grant your wish!" letters make me nuts! As if God were a puppet on YOUR string!!!
I will admit to having forwarded a couple--ONLY with the caveat that as a chain letter this is stupid, but perhaps the message alone had some merit.
Love your rants!!!
chemo sabe,
December 6, 2007 11:51 AM

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Voice of Reason.

I was recently listening to a lady named Leddy Hammock telling a story about a difficult time that she had with a shopkeeper. The shopkeeper was in a foul mood, the customer quickly got into a foul mood and they had a blowout. The customer stomped out, and long story short, after determining that this store was the only store that had what she wanted, she had to return to the store and apologize. The shopkeeper apologized, and everybody lived happily ever after.

I learned this lesson a long time ago from an unlikely source.
Now to make a short story long again.

I was working at a small company of about 35 employees. There were two owners (the grownups), a large group of 18 to 25 year olds (the kids), and then four of us that played the role of day to day management (the teenagers).
We were inexperienced but we were constantly trying to improve ourselves.

There was something that Paul was doing on a regular basis that concerned me.
No big deal, just using his signature to give his favorite kids more leeway than the others.
Paul and I were having a discussion when I happened to voice my opinion that I felt that he shouldn't be doing what he was doing. We delved into it further.
I explained to him why what he was doing was inherently wrong. He surprised me by explaining that there was nothing wrong with what he was doing, it was MY problem.
The discussion continued for a very long time. I was up in my office and he was standing in my doorway. While our discussion was happening everybody else in the company had gone home and we were the only two left. He usually opened the place up and I usually closed it, so he was losing his steam. He had to go.
We ended our “dialog” with both us stating our beliefs on the subject. He holding firmly to his knuckle headed concept that it was no big deal, and me stating from my all-knowing pedestal that what he was doing was no less than stealing. And I meant it too.

I didn't sleep well that night.
I didn't want to go to work the next morning.
Paul and I worked very closely every day. We disagreed on a lot of little things and we had no problem telling each other. We would adjust our thinking to the side of whomever presented the best logic. Paul was big on logic, the big knuckle head was just on the wrong side of ethics with this issue. I was on the correct side, and he was wrong. I couldn't apologize because when you are arguing about ethics and you are on the right side, to apologize would step over to the wrong side. This sucked. I saw no way out. It's tough being right.

The next morning I was out in the shop fixing a problem on a Mazak. My stomach was churning, I was cranky, I didn't want to be there. Paul was late.
The control panel on this Mazak hung from a high swinging arm so to program this particular machine, you had to perch yourself up on a very tall stool that was on top of the operator's platform. You looked like a British schoolmaster looking down at the kids when you were working up there poking at the keyboard. Or a dunce sitting on a stool.

Paul eventually came in. I kept typing.
I was cringing as Paul Reason came up to me that morning. Paul is a big guy, six and half feet or so and twice as wide as me. He marched right up to me on my little wobbly stool, looked up and said “Hi Warren, It's a new day!”
I shook his hand and said “Yes it is, isn't it.”
The anxiety was gone, I felt better. We never mentioned that subject again.
Time to get a snack.

I still remember that experience. The feeling of relief, the feeling of forgiveness, the reminder that differences of opinion are just a puff of smoke from a skidding tire. It should be forgotten by the next lap. If you keep creating puffs at the same spot on every lap, then it is up to you to tweak your approach, or speed, or do whatever you have to to avoid repeating the same mistake the next time around.
I have used Paul Reason's technique MANY times. It has made my life easier to forgive and TRULY forget, and to do it as quickly as possible.
It has certainly made life a little bit more pleasant for some of those that I have exchanged “viewpoints” with in the past.
I hear that Paul lives in Brattleboro Vermont now. He still is having a good time working at the same place with most of the same “kids” who have grown up now.
I ran into Paul a couple of years ago and we snapped right back into the same warped sense of humor that allowed us to connect when we worked together.

Now when I have a conversation that ends in a way that should be “corrected”, I always try to listen to “The Voice of Reason”, and clear the air as soon as I can.
Forget the ego, do what's right, none of it is important, it really isn't.

Mr. Reason, if someone tells you about this article, I would like to say “Thank You.”
Be sure to say hi to the gang of misfits for me.

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Got Gators?

Reverend Rick contacted me to tell me about a couple of spots in Sarasota that we should see. He started reading this Blog after I wrote that little story about him in Florida Men, Part I.
He likes it. When he gets time he pokes further and further back.
I am especially pleased that, because of that story, he now has an official online "handle".

He signed off on his notes with his new name: Dances-with-Gators.

It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

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Haircut time again. A double issue.

Haircut time again.

My last haircut was a dud. I went to a WallyWorld to have it done because it was such an odd experience before that gave me so much to write about.
My timing was just a little off. A customer was just paying his stylist at the register. He was a jovial fellow that had just gotten a wiffle “because he was going home to see the little woman”. Well, you can be pretty sure that “the little woman” wasn't going to have to wonder who it was that was knockin' on her door with a dollar-ninety-nine-bunch-o-flowers in his hands. As she approached the door she was going to recognize the smell.
He might have been so durn happy to be goin' home because whereever he came from, sure did stink. That happy guy that didn't leave a tip was leaving a trail of distorted faces all of the way out of the WallyWorld entrance. Why the WallyWorld greeter actually missed a few folks as everybody was looking around for the source.
Well I was standing at the counter just simmering in it, waiting for my chance to move to a new location to get my haircut. Any location. Beth had quickly decided to go “shopping” and was nowhere to be seen.
There was a delay before I could be served because the young woman that had cashed out mister “Jovial Air Freshener” was using the little sink back there to frantically wash her hands. Then she washed her face and neck. Then she started washing her hands and arms again.
Her coworker, who was busy doing some chemical process to another customer, reminded the girl (that at this point, looked like a raccoon preparing a Thanksgiving feast), that she had a customer waiting. The girl toweled off, stamped out, collected me, and started hacking away. She had a scowl on her face that I read as: Unless I was a plastic surgeon that could give her an immediate nose transplant to replace the freshly assaulted one that she had on her face, I should keep my mouth shut.
So I talked. She was hacking and jabbing with those scissors. I noticed that they weren't the grade-school round-tipped things, they looked sharp. She looked like she hated her job, her profession, and her customers. Those scissors looked very sharp.
I talked to her about her family, because I figured that if I reminded her that she had a family, then she may not want to go to jail. Well it seems that there were some things about her childhood that seemed to bubble up a little quicker than they normally would during the course of a standard haircut, but at least the speed of the snip-snip-snip was slowing down a little. Before she was done, her mood had improved, she was laughing, I felt less like a hostage and more like a customer, although when I looked in the mirror it was obvious that I was a WallyWorld customer. An All-American haircut, yes sir. That hostage period had created damage that all the skill of a laughing beautician couldn't undo, I would have to wait for it to grow.
When I found Beth on the far side of the store, she looked startled. She asked me what happened and then started doing that wifely thing of pulling individual pieces of hair with the thought of “well maybe if I just move THIS piece, it will look better” until finally she just tries flattening it with her palm. I explained that my 'stylist' was in a very foul mood when she started. Beth said “why didn't you walk out?”.
I realized then that if I was in a hostage situation in a bank and the bad guys said “If you don't trust us, then you should just leave now!”, I probably wouldn't raise my hand because I wouldn't want to be rude and make the poor [bad guys] feel that I didn't have faith in them. I had better work on that. Fortunately I haven't had to cash a check since May, so I have avoided any bad guys in a bank.
Back to my story. Remember the haircut?
My hair grew out and it was time to look dapper again.
So I went to two different WallyWorlds here in Florida, and they didn't have a place to get a haircut, so this morning after Beth and I got our flu shots, we found a “Generic Haircut Chain”. We walked in. There were two bored people. I was going to get a cut and Beth wanted her bangs trimmed. The lady asked the guy standing behind her which one of us he wanted to do. He didn't want to do either one of us, so the lady took me and told Beth to wait.
I'm glad the guy wasn't busy because that left him free to man the phone.
A coworker of theirs, I'll call her Ms. Dip, had told a customer the day before that she would pick the customer up today and take her someplace, but Ms. Dip had lost the customer's name. Ms. Dip had remembered that the customer had written a check to pay for the cut, so she wanted Mr. Phone to open the deposit bag from yesterday and tell her what name and number was on the check. Mr. Phone explained to her that he wasn't going to open the deposit bag, if she wanted to, Ms. Dip should come in and do it herself. Then the fun started. Ms. Dip launched into a very long story about why she was too busy to come in. Mr. Phone was literally hitting his head against the cash register until he realized that Ms. Dip was just going to keep talking. So Mr. Phone went back to the computer, doing what he was doing before the call and would pick up the phone, say “uh-huh” and put the phone down. He was doing this “uh-huh” thing about twice a minute. He wasn't even pausing to listen. Just “uh-huh” and drop the phone. After about three or four minutes of this he finally picked it up and said “I gotta go, I've got a customer!” and hung up. You know how you get the feeling that sometimes someone isn't listening when you are telling a long story (like this one)?
Well maybe Mr. Phone is on the other end.
We all were laughing. My 'stylist', I'll call her Ms. Calendar, asked Mr. Phone what THAT was about.
Mr. Phone repeated what I already told you, and then said that she was just going on and on and on...
“Man, she is just crazy...”
Ms. Calendar then stated that in this business she has worked with more “shot out” people than you could believe. I asked “shot out”? She said “Yeah, shot out. You know, in the hair cut business, it's the same small group of people that work at all of the different places, and we move around all the time.”
“I have worked with more burnouts and people that are just crazy.”
My mind immediately flashed to my last haircut person frantically trying to scrub the stink off her skin and decided that there might be a reason for this.
Let's pursue this... “Give me an example?” I said (tossing the bone out)
“Well there is this girl Wanda, that I worked with at [Generic-Haircut-2] that was a pretty good stylist, but she was really into cocaine. She would lose a job at one place and get hired by another. She's still bouncing around.”
“Well one day the girls decided to have a special lunch, they were going to order from Red Lobster, you know, a good lunch. So they ordered all of the food and Wanda said that she would go pick it up. She took the lunch money, and ran away with it.”

“She ran away with the lunch money?” I said.

“Yep” “It was just too much of a temptation.”

All four of us were laughing hard now.
I was saying “imagine weighing the choices, my job, my coworkers, or a little bit of cash? Hmmmmm”
Mr. Phone was saying that some people “only bring their lunch money to work, that's ALL they have with them”. Typical guy, he's thinking on terms of “Well, NOW how am I going to eat today!!!”.
I said that it is very important to chose the correct day to rip off all of the people that you work with, a McDonalds day, doesn't cut it, Subway, no, no, wait for it...
Red Lobster, THAT's the day to throw away your job and all of your coworkers.
I asked if she had gotten her next job at Brinks so that she could steal their lunch money.
“hey, wait a minute... what are they carrying around in those bags? More lunch money?”
The manager of “Generic-Haircut-3” was going to hire Wanda but all of “the girls” said that they would quit if she was hired. Mr. Phone said that Wanda was the one that got locked in the mall all night. I pursued, because I have to: “Locked in the mall?”
“Yeah, she parties a lot and on a Sunday she was having trouble standing up, so they told her to go lie down in the back room. When it was closing time, they couldn't wake her up because she was so blasted. So they left her in the back room, and when she woke up, she was the only one in the mall”.
I expressed my opinion that “Wanda would be the LAST person that you would want wandering around a mall all night. The person that unlocks a door in the morning has Wanda rushing by with a shopping cart full of stuff as she runs to her car.”
At about that time, my haircut was done, Beth came over to tug on some pieces and move them around, and then I got approval to go sit down while Beth got her bangs snipped. A few minutes later, we paid and left Ms. Calendar and Mr. Phone to finish up the day. I wonder which one ran to pick up lunch.

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