Instant regret

I don’t know why I bother, I truly don’t.

I was on Facebook yesterday and Boston.com, along with every news and pseudo-news outlet ran a piece on the firing of Roseanne and the cancellation of her show. It certainly was the topic of the day.

Against my better judgment, I posted a comment about the firing. I strongly feel that the way bad behavior is handled is extremely uneven in this country and I felt compelled to voice that sentiment. So, without weighing in on the content of the remark or “tweet” in question I remarked that it is hypocritical to cancel the show but not to cancel or censure certain shows like The View, Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel and Samantha Bee, who routinely say horrible things about Conservatives and our President in particular. My comment was very to the point and politely stated, my point is that it is handled differently depending on what side is being attacked.

You, as my reader may disagree with me but I’m pretty comfortable with my statement.

I was immediately attacked as a racist, a Nazi, a “Trumpite” and a “Snowflake”(If you can imagine that). It became immediately clear that of all of the vitriolic responses were as if they never actually read my comment. I never endorsed her comment, it was despicable. I never said that it’s ok to liken African Americans to Apes. I simply stated that it’s a different ball game when someone attacks a conservative.

I am proud of myself for not lowering myself to the level of the commenters. I didn’t devolve into name-calling or the exchange of insults. I implored my commenters to read my comment again and finally turned off notifications.

I’m disgusted with the whole thing and I’m even more upset with myself for not refraining. See, I forgot that we no longer live in a country where reasonable discourse and civil conversation are allowed, even encouraged. We now live in an age of butt-hurt, overly sensitive and overly opinionated people who never learned to open their ears and eyes before growing “keyboard balls” and calling anyone who doesn’t agree with them names.

I am so glad to be a part of the blogging community. The people I encounter here are rational, tolerant and capable of disagreeing without long-term consequences. You all are truly special.

As for Facebook? I think I may have made my last comment ever on that platform

The day the walls came crashing down

Back in the good old days, when I was a working and contributing member of society, I was an auction guy. I didn’t start in that industry. I worked at a restaurant for a very long time, until I was 31 to be exact. When I was diagnosed with Cancer I made a change. A haircut, a closet full of new suits and a pay cut of $20,000 later I entered the “real world” in the exciting world of car rental.

As the unofficial world’s oldest trainee, I ran circles around the recent college graduates and moved up the ranks fast. I was a blur known as “who the fuck is that guy?” After 18 educational months, I was forced to take a stand (a story for another blog) and I quite ceremoniously (also a story for another blog) left the company. No skin off of my nose, I had secured a position with a concrete company. I would become a dispatcher of concrete trucks servicing the USA’s second biggest, only second to the Hoover Dam, civil project, the Central Artery Tunnel AKA the “Boston Big Dig”.

It was a bloated, bureaucratic, enormously expensive and corrupt project but it was great for my resume. I acquired fleet, management, union negotiation and project supervision credentials in a short time. The job was killer, 6-6 daily nailed to a desk answering phones, monitoring job sites, and listening to drivers whine like bitches (some, not all) but it was worth it. Seeing the project coming to an end 2 years later and fearing downsizing, I went on the internet and found an opening at a National Salvage Auction. An industry I knew nothing about. Using the internet, not a real familiar medium in 1999 for me, I was interviewed within a week and off to CA within 2 to learn how to be an Assistant General Manager of a Salvage Auction that I had never been to and had not met one employee. 8 weeks later I would return from job training, walk into an unfamiliar building and ask for a Manager that I would grow to hate. I lasted 2 years, despite the fact that she never wanted me there. Gordon Gecko was less of a control freak than this woman. At the end of my 2nd year, an old friend from my Enterprise days reached out to me. He was the new GM of a wholesale auction and he needed me. Wrecked cars to whole cars? I thought to myself, why not? I joined him.

I was immediately hooked. Being on the road, talking to dealers, being around cars new and old (I love cars, have since I was a kid) and then there was auction day. Auction day was about deadlines, a week worth of preparation going off at 10 whether you were ready or not, regardless of weather or any other excuse you could come up with. It was “Go Time”. Hundreds of dealers, lane after lane of bidders frantically waving as auctioneers spoke lightning fast selling cars at the rate of 1 every 30 seconds per lane. There I would be, maintaining my dealers, meeting new customers, shaking hands and making money. I would turn out to be very, very good at the auction business. For the first time in my life, I had found my special purpose. Apologies to Steve Martin.
steve martin

I had never done sales in my life. As it turns out, being knowledgeable of your product, attentive to your customers, and passionate about what you do is enough. I worked hard for my customers, I earned their loyalty and I never had to be “Slick Willy” once.  I simply did what I said I would for my people and I became a well-known guy in the business. With success comes some obstacles and the owner eventually decided that I was making too much money, despite the 38% increase in overall volume during my tenure. I warned him that I wasn’t taking a pay cut and should I leave my customers were coming with me. He called my bluff and he lost…bigly.

For several years after I left this company I expanded my experience in the car business. I dabbled in retail sales for a bit and one day in 2008 I had a serendipitous moment. My mother-in-law worked with a woman in Real Estate whose husband was GM of a sub-prime Automotive Loan company. He was looking for a guy with car biz experience. Once relayed, my mother-in-law, over a glass of Chablis immediately took down the husband’s phone number and called me. I went to meet him the next day. He was looking for someone with experience working with car dealers, sales management, remarketing and strong negotiations skills. In particular, knowledge of auto auctions. It was a perfect match. At first, he didn’t believe that I knew the people that I said I did, but as good fortune would have it several dealers would traipse through the office that day, poke their head in to say hi to the gentleman I was interviewing with, and subsequently say “Bill, what are you doing here?” As the saying goes, SOLD!

I was hired on the spot, given a department to set up, funding to staff it and leeway to run it my way. It would take time, but I became an integral part of the operation. Part of my responsibilities were to attend the auction every week with my GM. For 9 years we went to the same auction, a huge operation in MA where we sold our repos, mingled with our dealers and met as many new dealers as we could. Because most of our dealers were there, it was the ultimate way to conduct business. We would get there early, I would evaluate our vehicles and set prices and hunt down any poor sap that owed us money. When 10 AM rolled around, I was “on the block” selling cars. Wheeling and dealing, as they say, working with the auctioneer as he captured bids as fast as lightning. Once I was done, my GM and I would evaluate how we did, process our titles and then relax. On nice days, we would lean against the outside wall of our lane and enjoy the weather.

Last year to the day, a driver lost control of a vehicle, sped into a crowd of dealers and crashed through the very wall that I would always lean against. 3 innocent people died and 24 were injured. It was a senseless tragedy.
LWAA
Fortunately, I wasn’t there that day. My career was over by then.

Being in the industry as long as I had been, I had seen accidents before. People are careless and walk in front of cars as they roll up to the line to be sold. People run across entire lanes in order to bid on a vehicle at the end of the building. They forget that these are used cars and the brakes may be old and worn out. In this particular case, old and worn out described the driver. He maintains that the accelerator stuck. Something was clearly defective because the first victim he killed was hit at approximately 35 miles per hour.

I was reminded of this incident by Facebook Memories today. I had posted a tribute to the victims last year and briefly touched on my history at that auction. I re-read my post, had a quick moment of silence for the victims and then I read the comments. I had completely forgotten the response my post generated. The most significant aspect was how many people immediately thought of me when it happened.

It was a pretty well-known fact among my friends that I was in the industry. I would often post pictures of nice cars that I saw at the sale. All of my dealers knew where I was every Wednesday. But the number of people who I thought had no idea what I did for a living was checking in with me on Messenger, calls, and texts to make sure I was unharmed. It really affected me today. Well, that and the actual tragedy itself…you know what I mean.

I didn’t have the heart to tell most of those that checked in that I was out of work for health reasons. I thanked them for their concern and assured them that I was fine. But it is nice, at the end of the day to know that people are there for you when you really, really need them.

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I have found that the less time I spend on Facebook the happier I am. With the exception of animal videos and inspirational memes, there is not much on there that interests me anymore.

I used to love FB. I reconnected with friends from High School, made new friends through pages dedicated to my illness, found a group of mountain bikers that became real, genuine friends and I really do enjoy just knowing what people are up to. It makes me feel close to them. But in our hopelessly divided world, all of that is outweighed by the negativity and outright hostility we are showing towards each other as we continue to shout in Caps, defend our positions and flatly refuse to accept the viewpoints of those who don’t think as we do. When a tragedy strikes, it is a thousand times worse.

I don’t know if it was school or at home but I know I was taught by someone that we don’t have to agree with each other. That it is ok, even encouraged to have a different view than another, but always respect their right to feel the way they do. It is a human, dare I say American ideal. As Americans we pride ourselves on the origin of our great nation; the escape from political and religious oppression, the notion of governing ourselves and creating a document that can be amended in the event that society evolves and something the drafters of that document never anticipated arises. We shout from the rooftops that you can do and say anything you want in this great land of ours because we are free! Respect and intelligent discourse will always prevail.

Not anymore.

We are no longer the land of the free and the brave. We are now the land of the loud and closedminded. We don’t listen when others speak, instead, we are merely planning our next sentence. How can you learn anything if you don’t listen to another voice? If someone disagrees with us we get angry and hurl insults at them instead of debating them intelligently and calmly. To make matters worse, we have the attention span of a gnat. Instead of researching things and formulating an informed viewpoint, we believe everything we hear and see online.

I love the saying everyone is “entitled to their opinion”. Sorry, you are not. An opinion is formulated and arrived at by study, life experience, intelligence, and wisdom. To say that global warming is real, for example, there are actual statistics on both sides of the issue that can be used to support your “opinion” and a proper debate could then ensure. To say that it is the fault of aliens dressed as Joan Cusack trying to kill penguins because they hate Tuxedos is just a stupid statement. And there are plenty of those.
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But even if you do postulate nonsense or common sense, the vitriol towards others, only strengthened by “keyboard balls” is making me sick. The hatred being spewed back and forth as tragedies strike and everyone digs in for battle armed with a sling full of arrows of “Idiot”, “moron”, “shithead” and “snowflake” to be shot at anyone who has the nerve to not think like them is sickening.

I don’t care who you voted for. I don’t care if you think guns shoot by themselves. I don’t care if you think the earth is flat. I don’t care that you think the president is responsible for an earthquake in Peru. Say something intelligent and be accepting of others or just put the keyboard down. Going on FB now just makes me sad and angry. There is some good content left but so much hatred.

I almost wish that grammatical and spelling errors, duck-faced selfies by women who are way too old to be doing them, vague posts fishing for sympathy or gratification and pictures of ugly feet on the beach were the only aggravating thing about FB. From now on, FB is something to scroll while I poop. A fitting finale for this post. Too bad I don’t have the poop emoji…

the unwanted advance of Social Media

I had the great pleasure of a long phone conversation with a new friend today. We get along so well because we value “real” and are very direct people. What do I mean by direct you ask? If you’re wearing an ugly hat don’t ask us if we like your hat. We should both have tee shirts that read “are you sure you want me to answer that?” You get the point.

We got onto the subject of social media today. We discussed the pitfalls of easy access, the danger of stalkers and trolls, and the evaluation process when accepting or ignoring friend requests. My friend and I mostly agreed on what constitutes a “friend” and we shared some funny and not so funny stories about different people’s attempts to access our little online worlds. As we joked back and forth, once again I triggered myself. I really need to stop doing that.

A few years ago I got a friend request from “Sue”. I didn’t recognize her at first, the last name didn’t ring a bell. When I saw the friends list I saw my cousin Mike and I realized who it was. DELETE. A few days later I got another. DELETE. A few weeks later another. DELETE. My cousin’s ex-wife was not going to infect my Facebook. A few weeks and 2 DELETES later my cousin called. Mind you I hadn’t talked to him in months (long story). He wasn’t calling to say hi, he wanted to know why I wasn’t accepting “Sue’s” friend request. “You’re joking right?”

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“Not at all, why.”

“Because we went almost 6 years without speaking because of her. Why would I want to talk to her now?”

“Let it go.” Yeah, not my style. He doesn’t get it, he never will

It all started in the late 80’s. Mike and his new girlfriend Sue asked me to go to an amusement park in Western, MA (now a Six Flags) with them. I had hung out with them a few times before this, Mike and I were very close so it wasn’t unusual for him to invite me along. Mike was smitten with Sue, me not so much. I found her to be selfish, immature and smothering.  But it wasn’t about me, it was his life. He had a wonderful combination of good heart and low self-esteem that predestined him to marry the first girl who touched his dick.

We walked into the entrance of the enormous park, Mike looked really happy. We headed towards the largest attraction only to realize that Sue had dropped off a few yards back. We quickly found her on a bench. She looked miserable. He immediately asked her what was wrong. To which he was met by a “nothing”. He persisted to ask what happened and she continued to not answer him. A “fine” (the dreaded word to any man) would have been a welcome relief. Finally, she got off of the bench and trudged alongside my hapless cousin. I wasn’t playing her bullshit games, I ignored her. Later that day, when Sue was doing some collectible shopping, Mike pulled me aside and said “you’re not going to believe what that was about”

“I’m listening,” I said.

“We walked past a popcorn stand and I didn’t think to stop and get her some.”

Wow, I thought to myself. It’s so much worse than I thought! Always the compassionate one I said “She’s not here right now. Run, don’t walk.”

He thought I was kidding.

We got through that day and many others. He eventually proposed. She, of course, said yes. Mike and I were having drinks a few days later. The waiter had just dropped off a fresh round. Mike watched him walk off, leaned back in his chair, looked at me and asked: “what do you think about Sue?”

“What do you mean, what do I think?” I asked him quizzically. “What does it matter, I’m not marrying her.” I was hoping that I would end it there. I wouldn’t be so lucky.

“Cut the shit. Tell me what you think.”

“Don’t make me say it.”

“Say it.” He leaned in and met my eyes.

“She’s a fucking bitch and she’s going to ruin your life!” I blurted.”Happy?” Instantly relieved yet mad at myself. I was waiting for the punch. We had beaten the snot out of each other more than a few times. Bracing for a table full of drinks and a 185-pound cousin landing in my lap, I instead saw before me a perfectly calm guy.

“I’m sorry Mike, I love ya cuz. I’m just thinking about you. Not trying to be an ass.”

In the end, it didn’t make a difference. They got married, I was an usher. I slept with one of her bridesmaids (the streak was intact). I managed to keep it together until about a year later when I was visiting them and their new baby. Sue was being exceptionally bitchy and demanding of Mike. He was exhausted from trying to please her and care for the baby and she was acting like a petulant child. After watching Mike offer to make her different dinners only to be met with indifference and attitude I spoke up. In not so many words I lashed out at her for treating him so poorly. I may have mentioned something along the lines of “like I called it” which wasn’t helpful. Mike, against the wall, had to make a decision and he chose to throw me out. I welcomed the cold air in my face to the cold air coming from that bitch.

We wouldn’t speak for 6 years, when he divorced her. I had been right, but I wasn’t happy about it. She ruined the guy. Mike and I really aren’t the same but we are friendly. We have rules now, one is we don’t talk about Sue. So when he asked me to accept her friend request it brought back a lot of memories.

This ties in with the social media thing as such. Who do you have on your Facebook? I only have family, school classmates, co-workers past and present and a very select few that mean enough to me to follow their lives. I certainly have no room for someone who threw me out of her house many years ago, nor do I think it’s appropriate for someone else to advocate on her behalf. I would like to think that I have some say in whom I interact with.

 

Facebook and real friends

“Hi, I’m Bill and I’m addicted to Facebook.” Sorry, wrong meeting.

I have the same love/hate relationship with FB that I have with alcohol. I use both frequently but monitor myself carefully for addiction.

FB has served my generation well because I didn’t have it when I was young so I remember life before it. It allows me to recognize the difference between FB life and real life. There are FB friends and then there are real friends. You can have both on social media.

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Here are my thoughts on different types of FB users.

It is very useful and enjoyable to keep up with the lives of people I went to school with or formerly worked with. I like knowing what they are up to, it’s like following their lives.

I hate the vague posts begging for attention. People who put up shit like “grrrr so aggravated!” without explaining why are clearly begging for someone to say “awww what’s the matter honey?” or “I love you sweetie let me know if I can help you.”. Those compliment-baiters drive me crazy.

People don’t need to check in everywhere they go. First of all, nothing says “break into my house I’ll be gone for awhile” like detailing every step of your Tuesday afternoon shopping trip. And I don’t need to see a pic of every meal you eat.

Too much politics and hate. We all have an opinion, it comes down to how we express it. Getting political on FB is asking for trouble because of Facebook Balls, the phenomena in which complete strangers get real tough and mean with you from the safety of their keyboards.  

It causes more divorces than can be measured. The tendency to flirt through messenger or reach out drunkenly to the “one that got away” leads to bad things. I know of what I speak. Moral of the story, if you can’t stop, learn how to use the delete button.

I use Facebook to keep up with people. I follow a lot of (credible) news sites. I belong to several pages dedicated to my chronic illness on which I have made some good friends, gotten and given valuable support. I only post positive things that I would want my own mother to see. I keep my content clean and positive and I eliminate those who piss on my threads. Every once in a while, however, Facebook shows you something special.

Sunday I shared a sentimental blog post that I wrote about the anniversary of the passing of my father

https://goodtobealivetoday.wordpress.com/2017/12/03/talking-to-granite/

to Facebook (almost no one on this site read it but I digress). It was emotional and I think it was well-written. It generated a ton of response. Some real love flowed onto my page. It occurred to me too late that such a post can be construed as an attempt to elicit sympathy. NOT what I was going for. I was simply imploring people to tell those in their lives that they are loved…before it is too late to tell them. But I found that there are people on my friends’ list that I thought were only FB friends but were instead actual friends. One response was particularly moving.

As soon as the post appeared on my wall I got an inbox message from James, my former assistant.

“Hey bro, I was just thinking of you and your post popped up. I wanted to tell you how much I miss working with you, you’re one of my favorite people in the world. How are you?”

We went back and forth for a while. I was truly moved by some of the things he said. James was my assistant for 5 years. He was a great, and frustrating co-worker. Intelligent but cocky; resistant to being taught anything but a quick learner when he did; a classic underachiever yet thorough and reliable. I sometimes wondered if he ever absorbed any of the things I tried so hard to teach him. It turns out he did. I am grateful for him as well, he balanced me out. He isn’t just a co-worker or a FB friend. He is an actual friend.