Shut Up and Rake

And there you have it California.  President Johnny Pontiac blew in like a reverse Santa Ana wind from the east and pronounced the solution to your problem.  Rake the forest. Works for Finland, right?

Well not exactly.  It seems as though there are some differences between Johnny Pontiac’s advice and facts, once again.  It seems that the year round climate in Finland is about 60 percent wetter than that of California. Not to mention a large portion is covered in snow 4 or 5 months of the year, has more rain than California and many other factors which have nothing to do with raking.

But facts, truth and other sticking points that many of us contend with while raising children, conducting business with integrity and going about our daily  lives are of no concern for President Johnny Pontiac.

The main concern for President Pontiac is optics. How does it look?  Will the thing that I did or say cause me to become the story and obscure the suffering of others?  It always the same script and the only thing that varies are who is getting attacked by President Pontiac.  And what ever their suffering, it’s nothing in comparison to President Johnny and the wrong done to him or his family.

A caravan of folks walking up from Guatemala, walking a couple of thousand miles has no suffering in comparison to the persecution felt by Ivanka for ignoring government e-mail guidelines.  The thousands of deaths attributable to the hurricane in Puerto Rico are nothing compared to the insults hurled at the paper towel point guard that flew into San Juan for a couple of hours never to be seen again.

And so it goes.  President Pontiac thrives off of the challenge issued by Irving Berlin for the 1946 Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun”.  The line repeated over and over in that song “I can do anything you can do better” is the mantra for President Johnny.

President Johnny can do it better than you, he can insult louder, harder and more hateful than you, and he can be injured more grieveously than people with no electricity, food, water, homes or who have died due to inflated or made up death tolls.

He was doing it long before he got off that escalator and came into our lives on a non-stop basis.  It’s as if President Johnny is like some sort of televangelist that has control of our TV’s, our phones, laptops and computers.  He pops up at will with a new crisis justifying his need for a new private jet.

We can be hopeful that some combination of scandal, indictments or charismic opposition candidate takes Ole Johnny down in 2020.  In the mean time we should all follow his advice and just shut up and rake.

It ain’t really Monday unless it sucks.

Today was supposed to be my day off, not a bad way to start your week, right.  I woke up later than normal and turned on the coffee and sat down at the keyboard.  Soon after, I received a text from a co-worker wondering if I might be interested in swapping days off this week.  My answer was elaborate. NO.

I had every intention of going into work late and leaving early like I normally do on my day off.  In car sales it never hurts to check in to see if someone who on Saturday swore they weren’t buying until year-end might have changed their mind in the last couple of days.

My plan, as usual, was to roll in around 10:00 and be gone by 4:00 at the latest.  Another text arrived at 8:30, this one from my manager, informing me of mandatory training at 9:00 AM.  I cheerfully replied that while I would be in, 30 minutes would be an outlier for my arrival, but that I would be in shortly.

In the car business, mandatory training means that the owner has paid good money for an outside trainer to come in and teach those of us that have been sales forever that we have been doing it all wrong.  It’s usually entertaining for the new people and they generally overlook the fact that this person is telling them that their parents totally screwed up raising them.

So, assuming that it would be a 2 hour training session starting at 9:00 to be followed by a second session a few minutes later for another two hours, I rolled into work just before 10:00 am  It’s my day off, remember?  The joke was on me.

I was informed by co-workers that the first session was three hours and the second session would start at 1:00 pm.  So, I was basically three hours early on a day when it was steadily raining, which is not the best weather for selling cars.  Right on time, my co-workers and my manager returned almost precisely at noon.  My manager declared it to be useful training while my co-workers were less than effusive in their praise to say the least.

At 1:00 pm, four of us went across the street to the training location.  The class was a mixture of seasoned veterans and green peas, or new sales people and a couple of managers thrown in for balance.  Our trainer was introduced by one of the owners and pronounced as legitimate further stating that he had been thoroughly vetted and thus he had the house stamp of approval.

I knew instantly that we had been had when the trainer/speaker/owner of his own company told us that he had the privilege of working with Tony Robbins at an early age.  When I hear that name, alarm bells go off in my head.  Huckster, television personality and a guy that used to hold seminars in hotel meeting rooms and sell you a series of tapes, CD’s and monthly newsletters, for a monthly recurring fee of course.

Not to pick on Tony Robbins specifically, but this is an old con.  The secret to success in life can’t be revealed in one lecture, but requires continued devotion and monthly updates to the source of knowledge.  The source of knowledge usually jets around the world in his Gulfstream spreading the “gospel of success” to those that haven’t been to a Hilton ballroom lately.

My afternoon session, took a break at the half way point in the scheduled three hours right on time.  During this time, the presenter, sat down in a chair and lowered his tone of voice and talked to the non-smokers that remained.  Shortly after, he was back on his feet pacing and times, shouting at us again.  Then came the role-playing.  We were to use the tidbits that would make us successful and make impromptu presentations.

Having basically been in sales since I was fourteen, I lowered my head even further than it had been hoping to totally avoid eye contact with the presenter.  I was successful for a couple of rounds, but he tracked me down.  Now, truly the crap he was preaching is Sales 101, 102, 201, 202, etc.  Finally he locked in on me and it was decision time.

So, given the scenario I was to respond to, I said, fuck it.  I’ll answer his challenge, but in my own damn words.  Most of my co-workers had responded by reading answers they had carefully written down.  Not me, not after a lifetime in sales.  The scenario was after a test drive, the customer turns hostile and demands your best price.  What do you as a salesman do?

Well, I’ve been faced with this situation more times than I can remember.  When the presenter looked at me and said “what about you?”  I said “sure” and went into one of my standard customer complimentary dialogues that always ends up inside, with the customer seated with a bottle of water or cup of coffee in their hands.  When I finished, my co-workers were laughing, which really isn’t unusual.

There was another session and another role-playing exercise and another go around the room for show and tell.  Once again, I was called out directly to respond.  Unfortunate.  I had nothing written down and stood up holding an imaginary phone to my ear and talked my way through the hypothetical problem covering all of the presenter’s points in a slam dunk, tour-de-force performance.

Well, the joke was on me.  Our three-hour afternoon session turned into a four-hour session, about three hours and forty-five minutes longer than it should have, conservatively.  When we were discharged, released or perhaps paroled, we walked outside and the rain had moved on and the sun was glorious in the late fall afternoon.

The bad news after all of this?  Another training session tomorrow.  This time, I think I am due for the morning session.  I told my manager on the way out the door this afternoon that I was scheduled for out-patient hip replacement surgery in the morning and wouldn’t be available for a couple of days.

Motivational speakers, televangelists and certain politicians give me sharp pains in the ass.  2017 has been especially trying.  My left hip just can’t take sitting through this much longer.  Today, was Monday, it really did suck and frankly I’ve had enough of all this crap for a couple of days.  I hear titanium replacement hips are all the rage these days, especially if you’re going through TSA screenings.