The Break

“… the big picture.”

I glanced at my watch and it was 11:26 when my boss, Bob, said, “the big picture” and Annie came unglued.

“What big picture do we need to know that our support systems don’t work, that too much of the data is old, incomplete or just wrong and that the people who should be maintaining the systems don’t seem to care?”

“Hold on, let’s keep on track”, Bob, said as Annie, one of my co-workers, read off a list of the issues which were preventing her from hitting the sales goals he had put out for the team. “We are talking about hitting goals not…”

“And that’s what I am talking about”, Annie said, “the support systems we have in place are not working, they’re not supporting us.  We’re the ones using the systems, we’re the ones who find that the systems are a liability.  I’m not sure that management knows how bad the systems are or that management understands the sales process at all.”

Annie was sailing now and you could see that it made Bob quite uncomfortable.  Now usually when challenged he would perform an encore of the clichés he had already used at the meeting about “focus”, “teamwork”, “team players”, “there’s no “I” in team” and “we hear you” before he would say something about staying positive but today here he was at our monthly regional sales team meeting and it wasn’t getting through to the group, especially Annie who got up and left the room saying that she needed to get some fresh air.

“Why don’t we stop here, bring in lunch (deli sandwiches brought in on a platter so we can keep working through lunch—get the ham and cheese) and wait for Mike Scott who should be joining us at any moment. Let’s hear what Mike has to say about the systems and management’s perspective”.

The room was cooling off as the food was brought in along with Mike Scott from headquarters in Dallas.

“Mike Scott”, Bob boomed out until he saw that Mike was on the phone and then he shushed everyone as if they had called out Mike’s name.

Mike gave the little finger wave with the hand holding the phone and placed his top-grain leather laptop carrying case on the table next to the sandwich (ham and cheese), chips, cookie and bottled water that Bob’s secretary had brought over.

Bob scrunched up his nose and wiggled his finger toward the sandwiches to tell everyone to grab their lunch.

“It’s looking good for the third quarter”, Mike said into the phone, “let’s get on this first thing Monday morning” and with that he opened the water, took a gulp and held up one finger to Bob as he started to talk to someone else.

I could tell that everyone was impressed and hearing that it’s looking good for the third quarter was sure what we needed.

When Mike finally put down his phone Bob jumped up and said, “Mike Scott, welcome.  Everyone, we’re really lucky to have Mike with us today. I know that he’s got things to tell us which may just answer a lot of our questions so why don’t we all finish our lunch and then we can hear what he has to say.”

Mike and Bob sat down and started to talk about some guy named Pete who they had both known years ago who had died when Mike said, “Darn, I forgot about the time difference.  What time is our dinner tonight?”

“Six”, Bob said.

“I wish I had remembered about the time difference.  I’ve got to get over to the hotel to get ready”.

Who needs six hours to get ready for dinner?

With that Mike got up and said something about the company growing fast and hoping to meet everyone and then something about the third quarter and everyone was sitting back waiting to see whether or not this was the guy we had been waiting for and then as he made his way around the tables that were shaped like the letter U it was almost as if the clouds had parted and the sun could finally peak through.

There was something (confidence?) that Mike seemed to have that made you feel good about the company and your job and yourself.  You couldn’t quite put your finger on it but he had it and then suddenly as he walked between the tables you knew what it was.  His pants, his trousers, his slacks were displaying the right break (quarter break? half break?) where the pant leg meets the shoe.  The break was meeting his stylish loafer at the right angle to show off just a hint of his argyle sock.  Superb.  Just right. What a guy.

Here was someone we could count on and as he talked about ‘focus” and “team work” and “team players” and no “I” in team and how headquarters “hears you” you couldn’t help but feel a little better and think that it was no wonder that the third quarter was looking good.”

A couple of more points from Mike and a couple more glances at that break and then he said, “I gotta go” and headed for the door.

As he reached for the door and said how nice it was to see everyone and how he was looking forward to spending more time with our group the door opened and in came Annie who was noticeably calmer.  Mike introduced himself and slipped past her while he waved to the group.

“Sure good to see Mike. I just wish he had more time for the group today”.  Bob quickly summarized what Mike had just said about staying focused, and teamwork and team players and that there is no “I” in team and then he sat down and ate the sandwich, chips and cookie that Mike hadn’t touched.

Bob smiled at Annie and said that he wished she had been here to hear Mike.

“What did I miss?” she asked.

 

 

What would Mom, Aunt Helen and Aunt Ruthie do?

My son, Timmy, will be six on Friday and Emily, Cathy’s girl, will be eight on Saturday.  So many kids in the family and that means way too many birthday parties and that means my wife and her sisters are doing the same thing that my mom and aunts used to do with all the kids’ birthdays: they group the birthday parties. It’s easier for the family and a whole lot cheaper, too.

Cleveland is having a good year.  The Cavaliers are in the playoffs and if you’re in the playoffs you have a shot at making the finals and the championship.  The Indians are also playing pretty well so far and staying healthy. With a better start than last year they might make the playoffs this year and again, if you’re in the playoffs you’ve got a chance to play in the World Series and win the championship.

Two contending sports teams and the city is also hosting the Republican National Convention  this summer so Republican delegates and Black Lives Matter and Occupy youngsters will be coming in from out of town.  Possibly two sports championships and a national convention and that means three potential riots.

I’ve sent a letter to the mayor about how my mom, Aunt Helen and Aunt Ruthie consolidated birthday parties and have asked him what he thinks about waiting until after we know if the Indians make the playoffs to plan a big riot/looting extravaganza for Cleveland.  You know, thinking about it if the Indians do get into the World Series and win that will be close to the Presidential election in November and that means another riot if Donald Trump wins. Four possible riots in one year, wow.  Help, Aunt Ruthie.

I know what mom, Aunt Helen and Aunt Ruthie would do, they’d plan one big event and that could be what the mayor might want to explore.  Fewer riots and less mounted police overtime cost for the city and a chance for Black Lives Matter and Occupy to tear up Cleveland and then go home with a big screen TV.  Seems like a sensible idea to me.

The only down side is if the Black Lives Matter and Occupy kids come in for the convention in July and then postpone their rioting and looting until later in the year, possibly in November, will they be able to get off work in order to come back for the riot and looting activities?

First Merle then Prince

Merle Haggard died a couple of weeks ago.  I was surprised but I wasn’t shocked: he was 79. I can’t say I was a big Merle fan but I liked his music and his sound brought back a lot of memories.

Prince died last week and I was shocked.  He was only 57.

I thought about Prince when I heard the news and the next day I was still thinking about him.  Friday night, when I was watching the Indians play the Tigers on TV, the game was in the bottom of the first inning and after the Tiger’s third out I decided to turn off the game and listen to my favorite Prince songs.

I turned the game back on just before the Indians came to bat in the top of the second.

Do you have Tom’s number?

“Do you have Tom’s number?” I asked. “He told me to call him and now I can’t find his number” and with that my wife pulled out her iPhone and began pecking away.

It really is amazing. She didn’t have to dig in her purse for her old green and yellow address book, all she had to do was make a few clicks on her phone.

“Did you get Tom’s number?” I asked after about ten minutes.

“What?”

“Do you have Tom’s number, his phone number?”

“Oh yeah, Tom, sorry. I went to get it and saw I had an alert about a chocolate chip cookie recipe and remembered that Judy had asked me about my chocolate chip recipe a few weeks ago. I was going to send her a better one on Pinterest but then when I went into Pinterest to get it I saw this really cute bathroom soap caddy that I’d like to make for the upstairs bathroom and now I’m trying to get on Amazon to order some of the stuff I’ll need to make it.”

“Give me a minute,” she said, “Now I’ve got to change my Amazon password for some reason, passwords are such a pain. I think that I’ll get one of those password keeper apps. I saw one yesterday that’s free and it really looks like it could help me stay organized. I can’t believe I should have to carry around a piece of paper with all my passwords. There it is, Passkeeper. Got it. Done. You should get this too” she said. “You’re always complaining about forgetting passwords.”

“Probably so”, I said. “I know what you mean about having a piece of paper with the passwords. It sort of defeats the reason you have a password in the first place.”

A couple of clicks, a new password and I was all set up with Passkeeper. The app really does look like it’s the way to go to keep things straight.

“I’m glad I took care of that. Thanks, sweetheart, you’re always looking out for me. Maybe I should take care of you, too. How about we get a pizza and go to a movie?”

“I’d like that”, she said. “Maybe we should call Tom and Judy to see if they’d like to go. We really don’t talk to them much anymore.”

“Good idea, do you have Tom’s number?”

We did it before

In 1943, during World War II, the U.S. Army Air Forces bombed the factories in Schweinfurt, Germany which produced the ball bearings necessary for the production of German aircraft, tanks and trucks. Knocking out a component vital in the production of the machines needed by the German military helped bring Germany to its knees. Pretty simple logic.
Every day on the news we see ISIS or ISIL or Al Queda or Hamas or whatever they are calling themselves driving around the desert in pickup trucks with “warriors” in the beds of the trucks or large machine guns mounted in the back like mini-tanks. Notice anything about those trucks?
Now we’re probably not going to reactivate the B-17 Flying Fortresses of the US Eighth Air Force to bomb Toyota truck plants throughout the world but it might be a good idea to tell Toyota that their continuing supply of trucks and truck parts to the Middle East will not be tolerated as long as those vehicles are being used to mechanize the terrorist armies.
There must be someone at Toyota who remembers an ally of Germany who had its factories destroyed during World War II.