I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who was struggling to balance the responsibilities of motherhood and all that comes with her decision making process for developing her children’s priorities and self-esteem.
We talked for several hours over coffee down at a little shop in Atlanta where I work selling home elevators to high-end tract builders like John Weiland and to high-end craft builders who meticulously take their time on every inch of the exclusive fifteen square foot “house” they are constructing.
For the last twenty years I’ve been all over this great country selling home elevators.
As a serial entrepreneur, dating back to when I hand wrote out fliers, back on Rolling Hills Drive, telling neighborhood folks I’d pick up all their apples or fruit tree droppings for $1 an hour, I have loved the art of wheeling and dealing.
I can remember the older folks I’d talk to in Garland Acres who’d try to convince me that their newspapers had gotten wet at least twelve out of the thirty times I threw them, and that some sort of discount should ensue.
I promise you these Garland folks never really understood the contractual agreement between the publisher (The Johnson City Press Chronicle) and the dispenser (the paper boy, or in my case, the paper girl) and how these Garland-folks always thought that when they called The Chronicle to complain about the inadequacy of my throw that it was not the Press that was going to pay penance, rather it was the arm-thrower’s problem to begin with.
I never really understood the art of good cop/bad cop until the fella at the press, who took these complainer’s calls, explained it to me over the course of our newspaper relationship back in 1983.
“What happen out there today?”, the fella on the other end of my line said around 6:45pm on my Sunday evening.
“What do you mean? I delivered the newspapers like I was suppose to!”, I’d always say back as though just the suggestion of impropriety by him had knocked me back on my heels.
“What do you mean, WHAT DO I MEAN?? WE got four phones calls today that the Sunday papers you delivered were wet and we had to run someone over there and deliver four new dry papers. How come you didn’t put the plastic around the papers Michael? How come you let the papers get wet? Listen, we can’t have this!! It is your responsibility to deliver these newspapers everyday and come rain or shine or the creek rising you must deliver the daily news DRY!!”, my paper landlord said that Sunday evening with a hint of potential exit signs flashing along our conversation way.
“Listen Mr. SoandSo, I delivered the newspapers over six hours before the rain came in and if those folks didn’t go out and get their paper six hours before the rain came in then how is this my fault? I mean it’s their stupid faults for leaving their paper to get rained on. I delivered it first thing Sunday morning like I was suppose to and I just don’t understand why they’d let it sit out there and get rained on??? All four of those folks were home when I threw their paper, and all four of them are always complaining, I mean I just don’t understand maybe we should just cancel them because they seem like the type of folks who just are always going to complain!!! AND IF THEEEYYY don’t want their Sunday paper to get wet then they should build a carport or something where I can throw their paper dry. LOOK!!! THIS ISN’T MY FAULT!!!”, I accuse back to Mr. Soandso as I plead my case that this wet newspaper problem isn’t my fault it’s the fault of the dereliction of homeownership; trying to convince him that this isn’t my problem, but rather the problem of the complainer and the Publisher.
“What do you mean this isn’t your fault!! The weather forecast said rain, and we gave you plastic; plastic you chose not to put on YOUR 178 Sunday Papers and you threw their paper without a plastic cover around it!!! A PLASTIC COVER WE DELIVERED TO YOU THIS MORNING!!! A plastic cover you chose NOT TO PUT ON!! You were the one that put yourself in this debacle!!! You Michael!! No one else but you is to blame here, and…..uuuhh and another thing!!!” he tries to finish, but being the thirteen year old smartass I have become by nineteen eighty-three, I quickly interrupt him,
“Uuuhhhh Mr. Soandso you can’t throw the Sunday paper, it’s too big!! I have to drive my scooter up their driveway or in some cases, I have to park my scooter, get off my scooter and walk the Sunday paper up to their front porch because that’s where they’ve told me they want it!! And it takes my an extra hour and half to fold and insert those huge Sunday papers filled with your advertising profits !! AND LISTEN!!! I don’t get anymore money for the plastic wrapping you guys SEND OVER or the walking that it takes me triple the time to hand-deliver to these front-porch Sunday deliveries and I don’t see you guys applauding me on my sacrifice of my time to make sure your biggest revenue day gets delivered!!! BECAUSE MY DAD IS ALWAYS SAYING, TIME IS MONEY!! AND YET IM NOT SEEING ANY MORE MONEY!! AND YOU GUYS GET PAID WHETHER I PUT A PLASTIC BOW AROUND THE PAPER OR NOT!!!”, I say back as though I’m Norma Rae and it’s nineteen seventy-nine and not nineteen eighty-three.
A long pause then occurs and although I had been accustom to fighting for my rights around my homestead, this was the first time I had spoken this way to a non-kinfolk adult who wasn’t related to me by blood or marriage; plus the art of selective and strategic pause had not come to my motor-mouth yet, so I just continue forth and past Mr. Soandso’s pause,
“Anyways SIR, you can’t throw the Sunday paper, it’s not possible!!”, I quickly finish my subjugation of my current paper landlord.
“Listen Michael, I don’t care what you thought, you need to know that four of your clients in Garland Acres called today and said their papers got wet and we had to run them new papers, and you need to know if we have to do that too many times then you’ll have to start paying or we’ll have to find someone else who can deliver dry newspapers!! GOT IT!!”, he says without care of knowledge of who I really am,
“It’s Michele, It’s Michele, not Michael, it’s Michele”, I say a third time so he gets that I’m a paper-girl not a paper-boy thrower.
“OK MICHELLLLLLLL BUT WHY DOES IT SAY MICHELE ON MY BOARDS THEN!! Why does it say Michael and not Michelle?” he says back to me as we wind down our Sunday night of paper-complaints, along with my daily dose of this is how things need to get done business lecture or else conversation, coinciding with my explanation of how my original mommy gah thought it unique to spell my name with one L versus two.
A Mommy-Gah uniqueness that has worked so much in my favor that sometimes I think if I didn’t actually let Chattanooga, Oak Ridge or Cleveland folks see my face when I decide to run for Congress, but only my words, half of the folks might actually think me to be a boy after hearing and reading about my entrepreneurial accomplishments with one L; it might only come to fruition that I’m a woman when they get around to hearing about my differences and failures…..
I often wonder if third district folks will still vote for me if they find out how flawed most business folks like me have to be in order to become successful…because that’s the funny thing about this American Dream business; for those with no generational banking net, no chartered business course and no understanding of how hard it is out there if you lack the award winning Pharma-look.
It might just surprise some of you how many times a small business person’s judgement and character is challenged while fighting the good fight in order to feed, cloth and shelter their families. A true sense of capitalistic dogma that most small business women now have in common with their sixties and eighties businessmen counterparts.
Lawyers aside, of course-because lawyers are taught to argue both for and against the corruption of capitalism and democracy, regardless of personal choice or desired intent, segueing into the legal weather forecast that becomes interdependently polluted by the byproduct of the knowledge that neither really exists exclusively without corrosion of relationship.
When facing the two-headed figurine of capitalism and democracy, neither is germane to creating law anymore. It is the servicing of our laws that begins to take precedence over the creation of our laws when discussing your decision to vote for or against a citizen’s candidacy. And as long as the ninety percent base of democracy and capitalism pays the corporate insurance fees, we the people will continue to ride the banking and insurance tsunamis of global financial change, with little to no balance for our ten percent of creative crumbs.
Because really, these corporate insurance and banking markets that these lawyers and bankers deal in are artificial constructs.
Life is funny and although you have to be strategic in order to survive and flourish, especially now as relationship selling has broken down and content and context selling has ramped up; you must always remember that perception surpassed truth and perspective a long time ago…
It is those with the understanding of a life which isn’t perfect, and that will never be perfect, who will truly reach the epicenter of Jefferson’s meaning of The Pursuit of Happiness.
To be continued…