I Want to Be Hispanic

During the last Presidential election, I remember an interview with minority voters who were “undecided” toward the end of the campaign. They said they had been wined and dined by both politcal parties at fancy dinners held a few weeks before the election.

I’m thinking…hey, I’d like some of those free meals, too.

So now it’s time to get serious about my racial switch. Super Tuesday is just a few days away and the telephone is ringing off the hook with calls from Hillary Clinton and other political heavy weights.

I’ve also answered some surveys….so here’s where I  can change my race. I don’t think I can pull off black (African American) as my skin is pretty pale. But let’s say they invite me in for dinner. Just ’cause I have a German last name doesn’t mean my mother wasn’t Maria Garcia or my dad wasn’t Jose Hernandez.

And since these surveys have all been automatic dialers with recorded voices….I can easily change my sex and age, too! Who knows how many people might be living in this little house by the time I get done answering these calls!

The way I see it…there’s still a lot of time to be “undecided”  and to punch numbers in hopes for a free dinner or two come October ’08. Besides, they are calling me…so the odds are already better than the lottery.



The Salesman’s Truth

At the end of the last millennium, I interviewed for a sales support position with a dot-com company. This was during the first round of dot-com millionaires, before the big bust.

The guy who interviewed me, Bob the Sales Manager, was a friendly, funny guy who told me how the company provided high-speed, wireless internet services to apartment communities. Residents could now use their laptops anywhere in the building or outside by the pool.

Bob enthusiastically described how sales were going gang-buster with 50% of the residents signing up in each building.

Unfortunately, that was only half the truth. Actually, it didn’t even add up to that much.

The Salesman’s Truth. Thanks to Bob’s loose statistics, I later coined the term The Salesman’s Truth to describe the habit of lying. (If someone else has used this term, I don’t recall having heard it.)

So I started the year 2000 working for an exciting company in an exciting industry…..internet expansion. As the months went on, the company grew in terms of employees and the amount of venture capital money we burned through.

Unfortunately, it was months later before even one customer was brought online. While waiting for that to happen, I learned a lot of about the internet, people, and I never did fully get why anyone invested big bucks into this company.

I heard a lot about portals, and we’re all going to be rich, etc. Still, no one was sending us any money except the venture capitalists.

When I left the company, we had a total of 17 customers in two metropolitan areas. That was one less customer than the number of people our company sent to one national convention that year.

We  also had several “competitors” in other cities… management talked a lot about expansion plans for those areas. I still wear one of the competitor’s T-shirts…it was made of really nice material that has withstood years of spins through the washing machine. The t-shirt came from our President who picked it up at a trade show.

Oh, and did I mention….we had 3 customer service agents to handle the 17 paying customers. We would have had at least one more customer, a pilot with a MAC, but we couldn’t figure out how to hook up his service.

So we’re burning thru all of this money, including a nice team-building outing at a local winery and a day at the ballpark. During the course of nine months, I think I had five supervisors.

And still….technical problems ruled the day. Not only that, but we were hooking up buildings with a large population of college students who had just graduated from free internet service and they weren’t willing to pay our business model rate of $50/month. (Which, eight years later, I don’t think anybody pays that anywhere.)

Not only could I not keep track of who was the boss….but I’m thinking, did any of these people take math in grade school? Bob certainly had not.

My skepticism started showing, and I was asked to leave the company. I wasn’t drinking the Kool-aid anymore….and that was paramount to being a traitor.

I still laugh when I recall hearing one of the engineers describe how the outside antennas we had installed were not designed for outside use.

Three months after that…they closed their doors unexpectedly. Unexpectedly to the new guy who started the day before. Unexpectedly to the office manager who was about to order brand new furniture for the new office they had moved to. But certainly not unexpectedly to anybody who understood basic math.

A few years later, I ran into Bob the Sales Manager, and my first supervisor in the series. He sat opposite me as we ate our lunch at a local fast-food restaurant. Bob was animated as he told me how the company had a mini-sex scandal involving the HR department. I laughed. I always liked Bob.

The thing about The Salesmans’ Truth is it sounds so good. Too good to be true. You want to believe it. But sometimes, the math just doesn’t add up. And guess who had the last laugh?

Remember this story the next time you’re watching one of those late-nite infomercials. Or during your next job interview. And “do the math”…… before you drink the Kool-Aid.

Nothing to Sneeze About

It’s the cold and flu season…and etiquette “experts” and day care teachers now teach the proper way to cough or sneeze is to use your shoulder/arm….not your hand.

Eh???? I understand the reasoning behind the fact that we all shake hands, touch doorknobs, etc….but I don’t think sleeves — or bare arms in the summer – are the answer. What ever happened to tissues, handkerchiefs…and washing one’s hands.

 Imagine this. You’re in a business meeting around the board room table in the executive suite of a tall skyscraper with a gorgeous view of downtown. (You choose the city.)  You feel a sneeze coming on…or a series of them…so you turn your head and unleash the action into your shoulder. Out flops a big glob of goo…phlem…and it’s hanging on tightly to your sleeve…like a stripe on a general’s shoulder.

 Now all eyes are on your sleeve….at least those that aren’t all grossed out.

So now what do you? Casually wipe it off with YOUR HAND….or pull out the tissue you should have used in the first place? Whether this bugger landed on your blue Armani suit or your silk dress…it’s not a pretty site.

So I conclude that we should ignore this crazy new advice…..and sneeze the old-fashioned way, into your hand.