Friday, February 27, 2015
Monday, May 12, 2014
You’re Doing it Wrong! EPISODE 3: Your Phone is a Private Form of Communication. Don’t Make it my Business.
I’m that guy.
Yes, I am the guy who stands up and calls you out about it.
I encourage everyone to do it.
I’m not just bringing this up to out myself as some kind of fist-shaking curmudgeon. I do it when it’s appropriate.
Just this last Saturday, I attended a University Commencement. It's a huge day for everyone involved. That said, there was a young woman on her phone, ruining the event for everyone in her general proximity. It was a vapid conversation. Clearly she didn’t want to be there. I understand not wanting to be there, sure, that’s perfectly ok. What’s not ok is to bag on the event when everyone around you is trying to support the people that have achieved their goal of getting their degree and closing an entire chapter of their life. It's a right of passage into adulthood, one of the few we have left in this culture.
So yeah, I stepped in.
“Excuse me, you need to get off your phone.”
She looked at me and gave me an epic eye-roll and kept talking.I'm kind of surprised she didn't flip me off.
And then I got loud.
“If you’re not going to get off your phone, you need to take your conversation outside. You’re being incredibly inconsiderate, what the hell is wrong with you?”
And without missing beat in her conversation, She got up and left the seating area. One of the attendees mouthed the words “thank you”.
The rule here is simple, if your behavior is encroaching on the experience of those around you, then you need to change your behavior. No one is enriched by the experience of being within earshot of you telling the poor bastard on the other end of the line how bored you are. You may feel like you’re showing everyone that you have a life, but in actuality you’re just showing all of us that this life of yours is not well lived.
Here’s a quick tip about your phone, when you’re on it, you’re sending a message to those around you, that they are not as interesting as the person whom your phoning or texting. If it’s true then you should at least have the courtesy of restricting that opinion to your internal monologue. Unless you openly hate all of us, and in that case feel free to let your asshole flag fly!
Be considerate, and stand up to those that are being discourteous. Someone has to, because these poor fools won't know until you tell them.
Thursday, March 13, 2014
It should go without saying that just because something is “a policy”, doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing do. History is rife with examples of this being the case. Look at any civil rights movement. Separate parts of the restaurant, different water fountains, the whole bus seat thing, all operating under the “It’s our policy” umbrella. “It’s our policy” should never be used as a stand-alone argument. It’s feeble. Usually the people who use this as a their argument don’t agree with it. That’s why they just say, “It’s our policy.” It’s the business equivalent of “Because I said so.” which I also have a problem with.
I was at a bank, Chase Bank to be specific. My credit union was across town and there’s a Chase Bank branch in the grocery store that I was shopping in, so I thought “Hell, it’s a Chase Bank check, I’ll just cash it here.” I approach the clerk, a smarmy slicked-back hair type, in a suit that was too small for him.
“Well sir, do you have an account with us?”
“No.” I said.
“Well, we’re going to have to charge you 10 dollars to cash this check, sir.”
“Yeah, that’s our policy. We have to charge you if you don’t have an account with us.”
“Yes sir. That’s our policy.”
To which I replied, “Give me my fucking check.” His eyes got big with disbelief and handed it over. I must have some damn nerve.
I walked out of their glorified kiosk, I mean it’s a half step above a sunglass hut, let’s call it what it is. I decided to get my groceries and just go to my credit union. Screw these bastards. I was reaching for the nutty bars and when I realized that I was not going to be able to just let this go. So I went back. Smarmy bank clerk was there and I asked to speak to the manager. I was polite, well polite for me anyway, and the manager had been halfway expecting me to come back. I dropped an f-bomb, of course he heard about it.
“So Richard here, tells me that you have a bit of an issue with our policy.”
He stayed seated. Even when he shook my hand, he never got up.
“That’s correct. I’m having a bit of a hard time understanding where you get to skim 10 dollars off this check which was issued from this bank.”
His nametag said Tom. “Well that’s the cost of labor for the transaction.”
“So you’re telling me that I hand Richard here, this check. Then Richard here, takes the check, puts the check in the drawer, counts the amount written on the check and then hands it to me, costs ten dollars. Is that correct?”
“You know that’s not what I’m saying.” He leaned back.
“That’s exactly what you’re saying.”
“Mr. Padgett, you’re not a member of this bank, and this is our policy.”
“Tom, this is a scumbag policy. This customer, a member of your bank, has direct deposit into his account, which means you have access to his funds before he does. You make money off this situation from the word go. That said, when he inevitably does decide to spend some of his money, you penalize anyone he does business with, by charging them through this scumbag policy.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, Mr. Padgett.”
“There’s no need for you to say “I’m sorry you feel that way.” because it isn’t an apology. It’s a way for you to seem like you’re sorry. Being sorry about someone’s feelings is ridiculous.”
“Mr. Padgett, other banks can charge you up to 12 or 13 dollars. This is actually quite reasonable.”
“So you’re using the everybody else does it so it’s okay excuse? That is not a valid argument. It’s just convenient.” I wasn’t getting heated and yes, this is where I get off. It’s true…kind of my thing. “Tom, How about we look at this as an opportunity. You have the opportunity to do the right thing here and not penalize your customer through this transaction fee.”
I could tell Tom was a family man, wedding ring, pictures of his kids on his desk, the whole thing. It was apparent the he was accustomed to saying no to his children and not having to explain himself.
“Again, this is Chase Bank’s policy.”
“Alright, I see your decision. This is a scumbag policy, and you know is a scumbag policy. Through this interaction, you have shown that you will discriminate against a prospective customer or possibly a future member of your bank through unnecessary fees. This will absolutely deter me from doing business with you in the future. I’m sure you acknowledge these facts. You know this is a scumbag policy, and by defending it, it in-turn makes you a…” At this point, I reached out my hand, palm up as if to say “This is your cue, honey.”…
Tom instinctively, as if it were a knee jerk reaction, said…“Scumbag.”
Yes. I got a grown man to call himself a scumbag and with that, I drove to my credit union.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
We’ve all been there. You’re in a group or possibly just in a conversation with one other person, and then it happens, someone chimes in and says “I’m just going to play devil’s advocate.”. This is then followed with the person hurling shitty contrarian opinions in whatever direction the discussion happens to be going. This practice of proverbially hurling shit like a lower primate trying to reproduce a Jackson Pollock, is veiled as constructive criticism. Oftentimes the individual who offers to play devil’s advocate is the same person over and over again. They love it. It makes them giddy when they get the chance to do it. You can see their eyes light up. You know this person. They lack empathy. These are the people who are consumed with being right as opposed to doing right. This person could be prone to one-upmanship; no matter what you’ve done they’ve done it better. These people are control freaks. Perhaps they are insecure about their intelligentness, so they fall back on being contrarian. The bitch of it is that they believe this practice, and the way they’re doing it, is actually helpful.
Watch this person. He’s not playing devil’s advocate, he’s announcing that he’s an asshole.
Playing devil’s advocate is intended to give people an alternate perspective, thereby exposing a possible flaw in the presiding argument. This could then steer the discussion back on track and avoid poor decision-making. See? Like that.
Here’s how you’re doing it wrong: Your contrarian opinion has no point other than being contrarian. If you’re playing devil’s advocate for the sake of looking smarter than everyone in the group by figuratively shitting in the sandbox that we’re all playing in, then I’d like to invite you to take your Tonka truck and go home. If you’re unsure if you’re doing it wrong, then examine how your playing devil’s advocate. If it’s a situation of just shooting down an idea and there’s no pearl of wisdom to be gleaned from the statement; it doesn’t lead anywhere other than down, and it offers no solutions, then you’re the asshole.
You don’t have to be.
Here’s a good rule of thumb; if you’re going to shoot something down, then offer a better alternative. If you really want look like a prodigy, then solve the problem. Don’t compound it with arrogance.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
To withhold something is to prevent progress. Say someone asks you for something, a marble perhaps. You’ve had this marble for a long time. You don’t play marbles. It means nothing to you, but you plan to use this marble to negotiate a favor, or deal, in an attempt to manipulate something out of a relationship. Then it could be that you are a scumbag. It’s sad the way this sort of shrewd deal making is not only encouraged, but applauded. It’s these sorts of tactics that keep your soul from evolving into who you were meant to be. Ok, say you’re on the opposite side of the fence and you’re the one asking for the marble. When the person who’s withholding the marble then comes back to you with an offer of “I’ll give it to you if you…” it could be that it’s just a give and take interaction, which is normal. An equal exchange is healthy and it occurs when both parties leave feeling like they’ve gotten good value from this encounter. It’s when the marble holder then decides to capitalize on the interaction and your fondness for marbles, that they decide to up the ante, and ask for more than they’re fair share out of the deal.
Let’s say you’re exiting a relationship, be it romantic, friendship, or business. The day of reckoning has come and it’s now time to settle up, divide the stuff, and move on. Withholding stems from longing. Perhaps you’re exiting the relationship, and the ex doesn’t give you back your favorite t-shirt. It’s a t-shirt. It’s net worth is zero dollars. It means nothing to the ex, but the ex knows it’s important to you, so they’re going to make sure you don’t have it. There’s no way of getting it back without changing your mind about the situation and caving. By doing this, the custodian of the coveted t-shirt has passed the longing on. They are no longer yearning alone. Even though you’re no longer present, you both long for something…together. Sucks, don’t it?
This behavior is learned, usually from the parents, and by the time it gets to you, the marble hoarder/t-shirt keeper gets to you, the behavior is hard-wired.
If you have something that you are withholding that means nothing to you and the only reason you’re holding on to this item it to stifle someone else’s enjoyment or progress, then go ahead and place yourself in the asshole category. Stop striving for winning. Strive for balance.
Chances are, you’ve at some point done this. It’s a basic relationship control mechanism. Let go of the reigns. You cannot control anyone. The only thing you can control is how you deal with it.
If you are being withheld from, prepare yourself to get up from the table, leave the marble behind, and go buy yourself a new t-shirt. It’s just a thing. You were born without it and it’ll be in a trash heap when you die.
Monday, August 19, 2013
I work in a field filled with people trying to get things done and achieve their goals…or in some cases, trying to beat the system and blend in with the people that are achieving, in the hopes that they can be mistaken for an achiever.
I blame television. Every single medical drama on TV is fraught with doctors telling patients “It’s okay.” and “Everything’s going to be alright.”. Two scenes later, the kid who was merely on a road trip with his friends to bring relief to a part of the country that was just wracked with tornadoes or a biblical flood, and was then hit by a trucker that’s been up for three days in an effort to make a delivery on time before the produce he’s carrying spoils, dies on the operating table…Hey, guess what? Everything's not going to be alright...and all for the love of salad.
Here’s the message, saying “It’s okay.” When it’s clearly not ok, is uttered to convince oneself. I met someone today who knows that what he’s doing is stealing. Stealing opportunities and stealing money by basically cheating the system. Imagine a mugger who’s stealing your purse and telling you the whole time “It’s okay. I deserve it. It’s okay. I need it more than you.”
Is it okay?
I understand that any system is flawed in some way. We’re human beings, flaw is in our nature. It’s when you know that what you’re doing is wrong and you justify it. Part of being a grown up is owning your mistakes. If you own it, then it has no more power over you. It’s a very uncomfortable lesson, and “It’s okay.” is much easier to talk your way through.
“It’s okay. They owe it to me, look at what I’ve been through.”
“It’s okay, look how much of my time, effort, and work they get out of me.”
“It’s okay, look at what he/she put me through.”
“It’s okay, look at how she’s dressed.”
See? That’s where we are. When you say “It’s okay.”, that’s when you have to take a step back, because you know it isn’t.” It’s not okay to take advantage.
You know better.
You know you know better, and you’re trying to make it alright with yourself.
You say “It’s okay.” for no one’s benefit but your own. Let me just tell you, no matter how you justify it, no matter how much you play it off like it doesn’t bother you, no matter much you say “It doesn’t matter.”, it does. And you know it does. Eventually you will have to answer for it. There’s no way of getting around it. Once you’ve done it…and I’m in this boat too. Your conscience will hold you accountable.
Don't lie to your conscience like a medical drama. The produce isn't worth it.
It’s not okay.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Where to look?
Research companies that do what you want to do. If you’re in sales, try getting into a company that sells a product you believe in. Here’s an exercise: Make a list of things that you like to do, then research companies that make those things. What are your hobbies? How do you spend your time when you’re not getting paid? You need to be deliberate.
For instance, if you’re a gamer and you want to get into the field, make a list of gaming companies that make your favorite games. Then find out what it is that they’re looking for. Get into the company, it might not be your ideal job, but you’re one step closer. It’ll be a lot easier for you to navigate your way into the position that’s right for you if you’re already in the door.
How to get hired. – General guidelines.
(I’ll elaborate more on the hiring process next week.)
With the job market being as competitive as it is, many job seekers are scatter-shooting the employment pool and flooding everywhere and anywhere with their generic resume. If that’s you, stop. It’s not a good way to get the job you want and you could be robbing someone who really wants your random job from an opportunity to do what they love. Sure, you may haphazardly land some gig that’ll keep your lights on, and the repo man from absconding with your ride, but in the long term, you’re going to be stuck there…for at least a year. There are jail-terms with shorter sentences than that. If you’re not comfortable with giving at least a year commitment, then look elsewhere. Ideally, employers want at least two years, which is enough to prove competency in a position, and won’t look like you left your job due to a personal conflict or being unable to perform your duties.
Say you find a new job. If it’s possible, don’t leave your old one until you have found a new one. It’s way more difficult to land a new job when you don’t have one. That said, when you do have a new job, don’t leave your old one in a blaze of glory. Everyone has the fantasy of Molotov-cocktailing the bridge you’ve crossed once you’re on the other side, I would strongly encourage you NOT to do so. The world is a lot smaller than you think, and employers always check in with your previous boss. Sure there’s a list of questions bosses are allowed to ask previous employers, but there’s some really crafty ways of sidestepping that process. One of which is “Would you hire this person back?” and if you told your old boss to kiss your ass as you dropped the keys down the garbage disposal, don’t be shocked if your new job suddenly decides to “go a different direction”.
The power of Social media.
If you blast your job on your Facebook page, someone will find out about it. You put it on the Internet for crying out loud. What did you think was going to happen? Social media has become a rant fest of people speaking their minds about their crummy jobs, neighbors, bosses and exes. It’s never a bad move to not blast someone on the Internet. The media loves to report bad news and people getting what’s coming to them. If you bag on the guy who signs your paychecks don’t be surprised when he stops signing them.
Say you’re not in an optimal position to land your dream job. It’s okay. Everybody has to start somewhere. It’s time to start looking into the steps you’re going to need to take to get there. Start with identifying what’s keeping you from where you want to be, and then knocking those obstacles out of your way, one by one. If you have no idea where to start, contact someone who does what you want to do and find out the how-tos.
Every journey begins with a single step. Stop wandering. Make steps in the right direction and ask yourself the question, what do you want for your life?
The days of just doing whatever are long gone. Don’t get to the end of your life and say, “I shoulda…” You are never going to be as young as you are right now, and you will get to a point where it’s too late, so get busy.