“Treat em’ like shit, they’ll treat you like a King” Story 18 April 19, 2013

One Wednesday afternoon in early March of 2013, Randy, my head carpenter and I are having a conversation about business and “practical” business practices.

Randy and I have been working together on and off for over five years; I’ve designed, he’s built. I suspect many business marriages are born out of the basic knowledge we need one-another in a sort of “necessary evil” kind of way.

The only difference from my personal world and my business world is most of my “business partners” are men and most of my close family and friends are made up of women, gay men and my industrial engineer, know-it-all, analysis-paralysis, Puerto Rican brother.

It’s funny how so many of my friends always ask me what I mean by “Puerto Rican twin” and I think, huh, you don’t get it? Most “smart” folks just wanna correct my spelling, rather than think about things for a minute or two. Most tell me it’s “Irish twins” dummy (I of course like to ask them back, is there a difference between a Puerto Rican and an Irishman? Both Islands are mostly Catholic and since I’m only ten months and a few days younger than my “older” brother, I’d rather be Puerto Rican than Irish) get it right!

God forbid I misspell “enything” or use your instead of you’re. I always feel like Heidi Klum being photoshopped by Anna Wintur when someone corrects my spelling or grammar online.

When did this photoshopping business start anyways? And is Heidi Klum really ugly and so “fat” (Ive never met her in person so I can only imagine what the TV folks are doing to her) she needs to become a characteractur of herself?

Or is it just a fundamental twenty-first century addiction to perfection that smothers almost everything?  

Society’s way of throwing in the white towel of the pursuit of happiness, replacing it with the pursuit of perfection? Has life always pursued perfection over perspective?  Or rather the “appearance of perfection”? Or have I just had my eyes closed for too long?

Has perception always chased perfection?  

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth, but if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.” Matthew 5:13-16

Some of the most “Perfect folks” I know-of seem so miserable to me. I’m not sure what this says about them or me; I’m still hard at work trying to figure this one out.

Does the imperfection of my grammar and the misspelling of my words make what I have to say less worthy? Or am I just being sensitive because although I don’t mind criticism, I prefer it “constructively” with a smile, a hug and a flower.

It’s funny how some of the best lessons I’ve learned in life are from the most “ignorant people” I’ve known. It’s a kind of Machiavelli meets Tupac Shakur sort of injustice (I’ll write a story about this comparison later).

Jeeeez , I think half the time, I can’t help that my elementary school spelling memorization  classes were taken over by spellcheck in the late eighties. I mean to say, I’m great at math and I don’t correct folks for not knowing what 1224 x 2356 is;  it’s $2,884,774 by the way.  

And one other thing I’ve figured out, by god if you wanna be taken seriously as a writer you better make sure you don’t make one mistake, except in math (which I did purposely earlier just to illustrate how easy it is for you to glide past numbers and not commas) because most “smart” people can’t do math.

Literary Perfection is to articulate “smart” white folks what Inarticulate Rhetoric  is to “ignorant” rappers, both add street cred.

“How’s the day treatin’ ya gal.” Randy hollers from across the road as he approaches my truck,

“Horrible”! I say back to Randy as I approach the little yellow house on Lookout Mountain where Randy is adding additional room for “the baby”.

“well, what’s wrong gal, someone done runnoft with your lake?” he says back to me as he slaps my back and hollers at Matt, his framing assistant,

“Matt, get that damn water hose off that roof before the field flies decide to take over”.  

Now what the hell Randy is talking about is better left to the southern gods of dialect today, because I’m in no mood for red-neck 101.

It’s funny to me how Randy’s always saying something to me that I have to sit back and think, what the hell does he mean by that saying? It’s like watching an episode of Green Arces meets Andy Griffith when Randy and I get to talking, although I’d like to think I’m more like Andy, unfortunately, most times I feel like Oliver.

You see Randy is use to running his own show as he likes to remind me every time we disagree about things,

“Gal, I’ve been building in my sleep longer than you’ve been alive.” he’s always saying.

Randy and I have locked horns more times than a mexican cross-dresser from Texas meeting his Russian baby mama from Chicago for the first time, on “The Jerry Springer Show”.  

I know, I know, it’s confusing right?

These sayings by men I’ve employed over the last twenty years are enough to make you wanna check back into college, because before I checked out of college I just knew I knew everything there was to know about business. In fact, I was sure my days of delivering news papers, of cleaning toilets at the greyhound bus station and of waitin on rich white folks from Lookout Mountain, or Riverview, had prepared me for the world of entrepreneurship.

Come up with a good idea, work hard, and you’ll make money, Right?


If only life were this simple.

I was so naive when I started my first elevator business during my twenty-fourth year. Now I know most entrepreneurs like to brag about how young they were when they first got started (Ive done that too) and I know Lee Iococa was first to start the trend of “I was a paperboy first which led to my success at Chrysler”,  but,

That’s bullshit, I say.

Most paperboys never have to deal with their employees, their labor unions, their bankers, their suppliers, their tax man, their clients, the businessman competitor looking for better “production” levels in China, the ambulance chasing lawyer who went to law school because he thought it was a way for him to get rich so he’d finally get the prettiest girl in high school, and all the rest of the folks involved in running a small business.

All I had to do when I threw my papers; hit the front porch, apologize if I didn’t, and make sure the paper wasn’t wet. If I did all three of those things, most folks would pay for the news they received each month.

I once had a guy name Jerry Case in my office in 1998 tell me,

“I wouldn’t give that no account contractor the sweat off my balls” he’d always say as though the sweat on his balls was a fundamental necessity for that contractor to finish the house he was building.

Now think about that for a moment, and as you think about it, you might also remember I was just a poor, white girl from Johnson City TN trying to make it big on Madison Avenue, without the fundamental “pharmaceutical” look.

My challenge early on was to figure out how I get the moth without a flame.