LEARNING TO LIVE WITH FAILURE
Failure means different things to different people.
Some people consider themselves failures if they aren’t immensely wealthy and powerful.
Others feel bad about themselves if they can’t have wild sex with anybody they feel like having sex with, whenever they want.
Some will die regretting that they never led a rag-tag invasion force against the Kingdom of Bhutan, thereby forever blowing their one and only opportunity to march triumphantly into Thimphu after months of violent combat characterized nonetheless by gestures of conspicuous chivalry on both sides.
Some will bleed to death in the gutter cursing themselves for letting their archrival for dominance of the city’s drug trade sucker them into an ambush like some stupid snot-nosed kid and blast them full of hot lead from one of those futuristic looking 9mm Heckler und Koch automatics that can be set to fire three shot bursts.
SOME WILL FEEL BAD THAT THEY WERE NEVER ABLE TO PUT AN END TO RACIAL DIVISIVENESS, OR CLEAN UP THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT, OR INSTITUTE A RADICAL REFORM OF COMMUNICATIONS LAW THAT WOULD HAVE ENSURED THAT NO ONE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET EVER AGAIN HAD TO WATCH A LADY GAGA MUSIC VIDEO, EVEN BRIEFLY, BY ACCIDENT, WHILE FLIPPING CHANNELS.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you consider yourself a failure, even if you are very young and have as yet only the dimmest appreciation of your virtually limitless capacity for fouling up.
But maybe not. Maybe you think you are doing just swell. Take this Simple Test:
If I drop dead right now, people will remember me as: (Circle one)
A That son of a bitch who owes me fifty bucks.
B That moron who never got around to coming over some Saturday with his pickup truck like he said he would so we could go to the nursery for that three yards of mulch I need to finish that landscaping project.
C That jerk who always used to grab my wife’s butt at parties and then always tried to wriggle out of it by pretending to be even drunker than he really was.
D That scumbag who always found a way to avoid pulling his weight at work, but then managed to take all the credit after the rest of us busted our humps.
True or False:
If I get killed in a flaming car wreck because there was a lot of heavy traffic and I figured what the hell I’ll just use the breakdown lane as my own personal speedway while all those stupid wimps are sitting there stewing in their cars because they don’t have the balls to show a little initiative, I will leave the world just a little better place than it was before I got my hands on it.
True ____ False:____
How did you do? Did you answer honestly? Did you lie? Are you conning yourself? Who do you think you’re kidding? And while we’re at it, in your opinion is there anything to these stories about aliens from other planets routinely abducting people and taking them aboard flying saucers and subjecting them to thorough physical examinations? And are these routine physicals covered by insurance?
Confused? Just take this One Simple Step:
Step One A
Remember, there’s very little you can do about anything. Life confounds expectations. The things we worry about seldom happen.
INSTEAD, WORSE THINGS HAPPEN. It’s a safe bet that some pretty horrible stuff is going to happen next week. And it has nothing to do with all the problems you are so carefully preparing yourself to deal with right now. By the way, get in the habit of calling a problem a problem. If I am threatening you with a tire iron, it is far more realistic for you to think of me as a problem than as a challenge. “Challenge” suggests that we are going to play a game.
If that’s what you think is going to happen when I when I am enraged at you and I am brandishing a tire iron, you are crazy. You are in for a big surprise. Your best bet in this situation would be to acknowledge to yourself that you have a problem, and run away.
An even better bet would be for you to shoot me, but I doubt that you are firmly enough grounded in reality to be packing heat. In general, a smart strategy on your part would be to avoid antagonizing people. Just mind your own business and keep a low profile.
REMEMBER, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO IN LIFE, BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN AND AFTER A WHILE YOU WILL DIE.
Step One B
Take it as it comes.
Sound exciting? You bet. But do we really know what it means?
Sexual connotations aside, it probably means that we should concentrate on the matters at hand, and not try to implement any grandiose long-term plans that will only get us into more hot water while ignoring the hideous bloody hell that’s breaking loose right now.
In effect, it means when the water is rising, we should pack more sandbags on the levee, instead of trying to divert the river or alter climatic patterns. Actually, that’s a far better old saying than “take it as it comes.”
There are a lot of bad, ambiguous old sayings. For example, “You can’t be too careful.” Does that mean that it’s a mistake to be too careful, or that no amount of caution is excessive?
Consider “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
Again, are we to understand moss as being bad, or good?
SHOULD WE EMULATE THE ROLLING STONE AND STAY IN MOTION, THEREBY PREVENTING OURSELVES FROM BECOMING PREMATURELY ENTOMBED IN A WORM-INFESTED CARPET OF RANK GREEN VEGETATION, OR NOT?
The fact is, we can’t be one hundred percent certain about what any of these old sayings mean. Also, how do you reconcile “He who hesitates is lost” with “Look before you leap?”
Rather than drive ourselves batty trying to make sense of all this ambiguous and contradictory information in a vain attempt to formulate rules for coping with situations that haven’t even occurred yet, I believe it makes far more sense to DEAL WITH THE VICISSITUDES OF HUMAN EXISTENCE IN AN INCREMENTAL AND SEQUENTIAL MANNER.
Step One C
Have a good time.
Why the hell not? Remember, you have lots of enemies, and they want you to be miserable. Piss them off by enjoying yourself. A tall order? You bet. It’s a lot easier (and more natural) to tumble into an abyss of despair that you’ll never quite work up the energy to claw your way out of.
Throughout this blog I’ve done my very best to keep you out of the abyss by teaching you how to recognize some of the more common pitfalls of human existence. The lessons I’ve presented are the hard-won fruits of my lifelong efforts to make a buck, get laid, and grapple with eternal truth. When the chips are down and you are disoriented, panic-stricken, and on the verge of making a terrible mistake, perhaps something you’ve read here will make a difference.
Maybe you’ll be in a desperate financial straits and you’ll suddenly have the presence of mind to play the lottery.
Maybe you’ll be all upset because the doctor told you to stop smoking, and you’ll suddenly remember to take medical advice with a grain of salt.
Maybe your only child will beg you to buy him a box of pencils so he can keep up with his homework, and you’ll be able to get the nerdy little geek off your back by advising him to scale down your material needs.
Maybe your boss will be looking for somebody to take on a complex, high-risk project, and as he heads your way you’ll remember to always appear to be busy.
Maybe you’ll get all boozed up and decide to go find a guy with lots of tattoos so you can beat the crap out of him, and a panic-stricken but sober voice deep inside will caution you to don’t be a jerk.
And maybe you’ll be brooding about how rough you think your life is, and what a raw deal you think you got, and just before you start bawling on someone’s shoulder and being a big pain in the ass, you’ll suddenly remember a very important rule that says don’t whine.
And when you are really confused and on the ropes, perhaps you’ll recall the old saying,
“WHEN THE WATER IS RISING, WE SHOULD PACK MORE SANDBAGS ON THE LEVEE, INSTEAD OF TRYING TO DIVERT THE RIVER OR ALTER CLIMATIC PATTERNS.”
This is the final entry of Beating Yourself at Your Own Game. From now on, you are on your own.
As noted in an earlier chapter, setting goals is a good way to create an illusion of control. Having goals also helps you to come up with a snappy comeback when someone greets you with “So what are you up to?”, “So what are you doing with yourself?”, or “So que pasa, Amigo?” A good response is:
“Well, I expect to remain at Fishotronics International for another two years, then finish up that Ph.D. in marine biology, and then spend six months doing independent research on Vanuatu, after which I’ll start my own office aquarium maintenance firm, Aquatek International, which will target large corporate clients. I’ve already drawn up the business plan. Would you like to see it?”
NEVER ADMIT THAT NOTHING IS HAPPENING, BECAUSE THIS CREATES THE IMPRESSION THAT Y0U ARE A LOSER. You should have irons in the fire, fish to fry, and aces up your sleeve. Cultivate a reputation as a real go-getter who is ALWAYS up to something.
Remember, there are no flies on you. Or are there? Take this Simple Test:
All I want out of life is: (Circle one)
A Peace, quiet, and security
B A never-ending series of challenges that will help me grow
C An hour in the sack with Angie Dickenson when she was in her prime, which in her case was around age forty
D The opportunity to make a difference
True or False:
My short-range plan is to survive the next five minutes without screaming.
True ____ False:____
The correct answers are “C” and “True.” Pathetic isn’t it? Angie will never see forty again, so we might as well forget about the only goal in life that would make all this hassle worthwhile. It’s not fair. Ever see Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) D: Roger Vadim? Not being able to get our hands on the delectable young Angie is a raw deal that argues persuasively against the existence of a benevolent Supreme Being. Hear that up there? This is your big chance to prove you exist. Send Angie. OK, in the absence of Angie we’ll have to concentrate on getting through the next five minutes without screaming. Strategies for doing this form the substance of our One Easy Step:
Step One A
Couch all of your activities in the context of a (fictitious) detailed long-range agenda.
For example, let’s say you are sprawled in your recliner, idly scratching the cat’s belly. The phone rings.
It’s an old college roommate who moved to New York, married an advertising executive, raised two kids, then got divorced recently and is trying to get her head together after a serious bout of depression complicated by barbiturate addiction.
Your friend asks you what you are up to. Your response should go something like this:
I was just grooming Fluffy. With a long-haired feline, it’s important to stick with a regular combing and brushing schedule. The grooming session is an ideal opportunity to check for the presence of fleas and ticks, and also to make sure there are no dermatological conditions or minor wounds that require attention. But enough about me. What are you up to?
NOTE THAT THIS RESPONSE POSITIONS YOU AS A KNOWLEDGEABLE, RESPONSIBLE, AND ATTENTIVE PET OWNER, INSTEAD OF A SHIFTLESS LAYABOUT WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN LOLL AROUND, INHALING BON BONS AND TORMENTING THE CAT. ALSO NOTE THAT YOU HAVE QUICKLY TURNED THE TABLES ON YOUR INQUISITOR WITH THE SPURIOUSLY SELF-EFFACING “BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME”, IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED BY THE BRUTALLY INTRUSIVE “WHAT ARE YOU UP TO?” WHAT’S SHE GOING TO SAY, “NOTHING MUCH. I’VE BEEN PARALYZED WITH DESPAIR EVER SINCE BILL WALKED OUT ON ME”? BUT IT’S HER OWN FAULT. SHE STARTED IT. YOU BE SURE AND FINISH IT.
Step One B
Always appear to be busy.
Remember, appearance is everything. It’s entirely possible to be working your keister off, but if you happen to be the super-efficient type who can “make it look easy,” people will figure you are goofing off. On the other hand, if you are smart you can spend all day long accomplishing a minor task, and create the illusion that you are busting your hump. Now ask yourself a simple question: Would I rather do tremendous amounts of work, or virtually nothing? If you are like most folks, you’d prefer to do as little as possible. Working hard is for saps. Fortunately, looking busy is a cinch. Let’s say the guy down the street shows up unexpectedly to gossip about the guy next door, who seems to be just a little too attentive to his adolescent daughter’s cute little girlfriends. The guy down the street has never actually seen good old Ed get out of line or anything, but he just seems a little too friendly and interested, always offering to drive the girls to the beach, or take them shopping. Always laughing and joking with them and carrying on like a wrinkled, balding, pot-bellied degenerate, wheezing and drooling, disheveled and strangely excited.
Let’s say that at the precise moment the guy down the street rings your doorbell, you were straightening out some magazines on your coffee table. By creating a neat stack out of a shapeless pile, you were, in effect, renovating the living room. See? Think of it this way: straightening up the coffee table and adding a wing to the house represent two points on the same continuum, because they both involve an alteration to your physical environment. Anyway, when the guy down the street shows up, tell him that you are busy renovating the living room because you want to get THAT little chore out of the way before adding the new wing to your house. You’d invite the guy down the street to come inside for a cold one, but the old homestead looks like a construction site and there’s no place to sit down. Also, you are in the process of pouring cement, which is a time-sensitive operation.
THE GUY DOWN THE STREET IS A REAL IDIOT, SO HE WON’T NOTICE THAT YOU ARE WEARING NAUTICA STONEWASHED COTTON POPLIN SHORTS, TIMBERLAND BOAT SHOES, AND A CROSS CREEK SUPIMA LISLE SHIRT, AND THAT YOU HAVE HAVE A COPY OF TRAVEL AND LEISURE IN ONE HAND AND A WEDGE OF GRUYERE IN THE OTHER. GET RID OF THE GUY DOWN THE STREET BY SAYING “WHOOPS! I THINK I HEARD THE CEMENT TIMER GO OFF! CIAO!” AND SLAMMING THE DOOR IN HIS FACE.
Step One C
Buy a good DO IT YOURSELF HOME IMPROVEMENT book and select three or four woodworking projects.
Relax! You don’t actually have to do anything, but you’ll get a lot of mileage telling your buddies about that lattice trivet, Shoji light, firewood tower, or oak parson’s table you are planning on constructing, “come Winter”, or perhaps “Come Spring/Summer/Fall.”
YOU CAN BOOST YOUR CREDIBILITY IMMEASURABLY BY WEARING A PENDLETON SHIRT ALL YEAR ROUND, AND BY HAWKING NOISILY INTO A RAGGED BANDANNA WITH UNNERVING VEHEMENCE AT REGULAR INTERVALS. PEPPER YOUR CONVERSATION WITH PHRASES LIKE “COUNTERSINK”, “DOWEL JOINT”, AND “FORSTNER BIT.” SOON, WORD WILL GET AROUND THAT YOU ARE A GUY WHO “KNOWS HIS WAY AROUND A BUCKET OF GROUT.”
BUT THE REALLY BIG PAYOFF WILL BE THE SENSE OF PURPOSE THAT COMES FROM HAVING GOALS. THAT LATTICETRIVET WILL ALWAYS BE THERE IN YOUR FUTURE, JUST BEYOND THE NEXT CHANGE OF SEASON, GLOWING SOFTLY IN ITS ORGANIC, WOODY WAY, A BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED, FLAWLESSLY FINISHED MASTERPIECE THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET A CHANCE TO SCREW UP.
EXERCISE, NUTRITION, AND HEALTH
If you don’t remember anything else you read on this blog, remember this: Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian and a non-smoker. In fact, he was an extremely strict vegetarian and an anti-smoking fanatic. During the final siege of Berlin, there were skeptics in the bunker who refused to believe der Fuehrer was dead until his nicotine-famished aides started to “light up.”
This is the kind of tidbit you can use when fitness fascists hassle you about your lifestyle. And they will hassle you, because fitness fascists are among the most depraved, shameless, aggressively obnoxious dingbats on earth. And they are everywhere. Jogging through the heart of our most polluted cities, hacking and coughing, pulverizing small bones in their feet and knees while sucking enormous quantities of auto exhaust directly into their tortured lungs. Middle-aged men ripping apart their Achilles tendons on the basketball court. Pathetic limping casualties of skiing, tennis, softball. Wimpy guys, wasted and undernourished from meat deprivation Women with skin like distressed leather from too much sun. Adidas-betogged nerds, dripping and sneezing, their sinuses enflamed with pollen, all drugged up on hay fever remedies and pain-killers.
But how well informed are you about the dangers of a “healthy lifestyle”? To find out, take this Simple Test:
You ask a fellow employee why he is limping, and he tells you he sustained a stress fracture while jogging. You ask him if he’s seen a doctor. “Yes,” your colleague replies, adding that the doctor has strictly forbidden him to “hit the streets” until the fracture has fully healed. You will bet a week’s pay that at lunchtime your co-worker is going to: (Circle one)
A Assume a comfortable position with his feet up on his desk, giving his fractured limb a good rest.
B Take a casual stroll around the perimeter of the building, just to loosen up.
C Maybe do some marching in place to at least give those quadriceps a good workout.
D Jump into those Reeboks and sweats and really cut loose for a good five or six miles, figuring that at some point he’ll work through that pain, which isn’t anything he can’t handle anyway.
True or False:
In your opinion, cyclists in bicycle helmets and spandex drawers look like emaciated cartoon characters from another planet.
True ____ False:____
OK. All of us are bombarded with health-related propaganda. We are assaulted by billboards, public service messages, TV commercials, exercise videos, medical authorities, and deluded “friends.” What can you do about this? Just follow this One Easy Step:
Step One A
Invent bogus statistics and anecdotes to undermine the pro-fitness position.
I was reading that recent Canadian studies suggest that people who eat red meat every day have an average life expectancy significantly greater than that of vegetarians. Apparently the info is being suppressed by the American Carrot Council. I forget what magazine it was in, but if I can dig it up I’ll lend it to you.
There was a story on CNN that Hungarian researchers have concluded that something in raw fruits and vegetables contributes to loss of libido and premature aging. I taped it on my VCR, but I think the kids might have erased it.
There’s a village in Iceland where people live to incredibly old ages and the kicker is they don’t eat anything at all except salt pork and vodka. Apparently the combination of salt, fat, and alcohol somehow preserves the cells or something. I don’t remember all the details, but it’s sort of interesting. I’ve got a book about it. If I can dig it up I’ll lend it to you.
You know, my Uncle Al socked down a quart of Canadian whiskey every day of his life, and he lived to be 91. Wouldn’t touch anything but pasta, meatballs, and Italian sausage. Never sick, either, except the morning he died when he mentioned he felt “a little under the weather.” Chain-smoked Camels from the age of ten, too.
REMEMBER, WHEN CITING FICTITIOUS MAGAZINE ARTICLES OR BOOK REFERENCES, BOOST YOUR CREDIBILITY BY OFFERING TO SHARE THE MATERIAL IF YOU CAN “DIG IT UP.” ALSO, RELATE THESE BOGUS ACCOUNTS IN A LOW-KEY, MATTER-OF-FACT MANNER, ADMITTING THAT YOU “DIDN’T GET ALL THE DETAILS.”
Step One B
Pretend that you feel great, even when you have bags under your eyes and your complexion is terrible and your voice is raspy and you are dragging yourself through the day.
This will annoy fitness fascists who, despite their allegedly healthy lifestyles, are invariably afflicted with all sorts of rashes, infections, and bronchial conditions, not to mention the usual assortment of sprains, groin pulls, and stress fractures. Profess to feel more “centered” when you are ten to fifteen pounds heavier than the recommended weight for your age and build. When you feel even more horrible than usual, claim that you are a bit “ragged today” because you had sex more or less continuously from late evening till just before sunrise, at which time you had a smoke and took a short nap before bounding out of bed, sucking down several cups of strong black coffee, and dashing in to work.
Remember, when a fitness fascist asks you how you are doing, respond that you feel: (Choose one)
RARING TO GO!!
ON TOP OF THE WORLD!!
BELLOW YOUR RESPONSE IN AN EXPLOSIVE, BOISTEROUS, DELIRIOUSLY EMPHATIC MANNER. NOTE: FAKING THIS DEGREE OF ENTHUSIASM MAY DEPLETE YOUR ENERGY RESERVES FOR THE ENTIRE DAY. IF POSSIBLE, GIVE YOURSELF AN HOUR OR TWO TO PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER BEFORE DRIVING A MOTOR VEHICLE OR OPERATING HEAVY MACHINERY.
Step One C
Take medical advice with a grain of salt.
Remember, not too long ago the best medical opinion attributed common diseases to “fluxes of the vital humours,”to be remedied by bleeding, leeching, and the application of beetle-bark poultices.
Today, medicos bombard us with dire warnings about the use of tobacco (a plant) and alcohol (a substance derived from plants).
While I personally disapprove of plants on the grounds that they consume valuable oxygen and provide cover for snipers, I cite the tobacco and alcohol issue as evidence that doctors are befuddled.
How can public health officials rant and rave about the hazards of man-made pesticides and chemicals, and at the same time get hysterical about garden-variety vegetation?
Frankly, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when you stop and think that all these overpaid quacks can’t even decide something as basic as whether plants are good or bad. If plants aren’t all natural and 100% organic, I don’t know what is.
Someday, perhaps, we will all share a good laugh at the notion that smoking and boozing are somehow not good for you. Until then, we can only listen with amusement to the solemn pronouncements emanating from the Surgeon General’s office. The fact is, all of this medical stuff is voodoo and guesswork, and the more we learn the less we know. HEALTH, LIKE EVERY OTHER ASPECT OF LIFE, IS A CRAPSHOOT.
THE JOB INTERVIEW
Job interviews seldom lead to jobs. Most of the time potential employers already have someone lined up, but they go through the charade of interviewing to create an illusion of fairness and to fake compliance with bureaucratic requirements.
So why bother with job interviews?
Because they are great sources of amusement if you don’t have anything better to do.
But before going any further, take this Simple Test:
To me, a job interview is a great opportunity to: (Circle one)
A Confront some supercilious dingbat and jerk him around unmercifully.
B Get sick to my stomach and break out in hives.
C Satisfy my curiosity about what those creepy little cinderblock buildings look like on the inside.
D Pump the interviewer for useful information about the state of his industry and the relative competitive posture of his firm.
How did you do? If you answered “B”, a job interview probably isn’t an ideal form of recreation.
If interviewing is your idea of a good time, follow this One Easy Step:
Step One A
Send out lots of resumes.
You’ve probably heard that resumes should be chock full of action verbs. That’s true. “Ramrod” is better than “manage.” But don’t neglect adjectives and nouns either.
Example: I ramrodded a multi-million dollar campaign that left my colleagues stunned with admiration and tormented with jealousy while creaming the competition in the savage combat for the targeted market segment.
Remember, account for intervals of unemployment by stating that you were “traveling.”
Again, send out as many resumes as possible. Go ahead and print them out on cheap paper. Prospective employers aren’t impressed by high quality materials and fancy production values. In fact, they won’t be impressed by the content of your resume, either.
Remember, the job is already filled and it’s all a game.
While futzing around with the resume, whip up a good strong cover letter.
00 Pleasant St.
Crud, NJ 00000
Mr. Domenic Grillo
Grillo Grinding Co.
Toxic Industrial Park
Bleeding Pile, NJ 00000
Dear Domenic Grillo,
Esteemed Paisan! Let me explain. My original family name was Blowini, and I was actually baptized Giuseppe. Giuseppe Blowini, thatsa me! Ha Ha.
Yes! You see, Mr. Grillo, a brutal and illiterate Anglo guard at Ellis Island cut off my father’s name when he came to America back in 1938. He came over from Analino which is down in the back country at the tip of the Italian peninsula. So you see, Mr. Grillo, you and I have a lot in common. But let me get to the point. I saw your ad for a grinding machine operator, and as one paisan to another I can tell you that this is not what I had in mind.
I have heard that you a sensitive man, a man with the soul of a poet who loves beautiful things, a man who appreciates truly exquisite marketing communications. In this I can help you. Think of it, having by your side a kindred spirit who can artfully proclaim to an awe-struck and breathless world the incomparable splendor of Grillo Grinding. Brochures. Data sheets. Advertising. Videos. Have you dreamed of addressing the local chamber of commerce? Speeches that will melt the heart and cloud the mind of all who fall under the enchanted spell of Domenic Grillo’s magical discourse.
I will drop by on Tuesday morning for a chat. Yes, I am a busy man but for Domenic Grillo I will make time. We have much to discuss.
Your friend and compatriot,
[signed GIUSEPPE in bold flowing script]
Step One B
Create stress for the interviewer.
Remember, the task of interviewing invariably falls to an expendable low-level employee whose own career has been unceremoniously flushed down a sewer a long time ago. You will never sink as low as the sad shabby person who is listlessly picking apart your resume.
Since life has already shoved him off balance, hard and often, you might as well ATTACK.
A good way to ATTACK is to question the viability of the company.
Quote an anonymous source as projecting huge impending layoffs, starting in the Human Resources Department. Demand assurances that the firm is in reasonably sound fiscal shape. There’s no point, after all, in joining the crew of a sinking ship.
The anonymous source? Someone high up, in a position to know. Friend of a friend. Never been wrong before, no reason to doubt his word now.
BACK UP YOUR BOGUS CLAIM OF INSIDE INFO BY CITING A FICTITIOUS WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE IN WHICH AN MIT ECONOMIST REFERS TO THE FIRM AS A “CASUALTY OF GLOBAL COMPETITION; A ONCE PROUD GIANT, NOW ON THE ROPES AND GOING DOWN FOR THE COUNT.”
Step One C
The interviewer will ask you where you see yourself in five years.
MEMORIZE THIS ANSWER:
“In today’s dynamic environment, five years is an eon. French economic philosopher Jean Paul Outre tells us that — Parlez-vous Francaise? Tant pis — Well, in rough translation he tells us that “Only the most abject fool presumes to visualize himself with any degree of clarity five years in the future. The premise itself is absurd, and is the gaseous flabby manifestation of a tragically static view of the universe which a myopic wretched literalist clings to with the sad tenacity of a very small mouse inexorably gnawing his moldy cheese.” Of course, it’s far more witty in the original. Five years indeed. Five years ago, would you have dreamed that you would be doing… this? Sometimes it’s better not to know the future, n’est-ce pas?”
NEXT: Handling Your Personal Finances
First of all, understand that unemployment is a state of mind. Of course, it’s a state of mind with serious financial and social consequences, but it’s not the end of the world, yet.
But let’s assess where you are right now. Take this Simple Test:
When I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and I’m stumbling around half asleep and I suddenly remember that I’m unemployed, I:
A Emit a piercing shriek of despair, and then start frantically phoning all my acquaintances, waking them out of a sound sleep and provoking exasperated and in some cases enraged responses when I begin whining that I “really need to talk to someone right now.”
B Break out in a huge grin when I contemplate the fact that I can sleep late in the morning and enjoy a simple breakfast of bread and cheese, then explore the possibility of shipping out on a tramp steamer and maybe after a series of adventures end up in Paris where writers and artists will lionize me as the last existential hero in a nervous and doom-ridden world.
C Update my resume again.
D Settle down in front of the tube with some beef jerky and a six-pack and watch infomercials till dawn.
How did you do?
If you chose “C” Update my resume, you should wise up to the fact that potential employers don’t pay any attention to resumes, which are generally viewed with extreme skepticism, if not open derision.
No, most advertised positions are filled on the basis of personal recommendations, i.e. nepotism, cronyism, and the old boy network. The only reason jobs are advertised at all is to provide an illusion of fairness, and to satisfy bureaucratic requirements. But it’s all a sham. The deals go down over Bourbon and cigars in reeking saloons full of really gross guys telling dirty jokes and whacking each other on the back.
So, if you’re unemployed, what’s your best bet? Just follow this One Easy Step:
Step One A
Don’t waste time looking for a job.
Remember, something will come along eventually. Your Uncle Harry will tell you that there’s “an opening at the shop” because “Old Man Futsky had his hand ripped off by the grinding machine and bled to death before you could say Jack Robinson” and he’ll advise you to “give Domenic Grillo a call. They gotta advertise the job, but I saved Dom’s ass in Iraq so it’s in the bag. You might wanna buy’im a case of Seagram’s, to show respect. Just don’t screw the secretaries on company time, cuz Dom’s from the Old School and he don’t go for that. It’s a good job, lots of overtime and double time for Sundays, plus the weekend differential. Hell, I made close to a hundred grand last year, which ain’t bad for a high school dropout running a forklift. Remember, a lot of the guys are a little daffy, especially Janos cuz he was a POW. Mind your own business, do your job, and you’ll be OK. You just wanna make sure you never sneak up on Janos. Always let’im know you’re coming. Start saying “Hi Janos” real loud before you get anywhere near him, specially when he’s working with that acetylene torch. And watch that grinding machine.”
Step One B
Avoid telling anyone that you are unemployed, because this makes you sound like a loser.
Instead, tell people you are traveling. Traveling sounds like a constructive and horizon-broadening use of time. Don’t make the mistake of telling people you are freelancing, because they might try to hire you to service their office aquarium or set up their home computer.
Remember: If you meet someone at a party, you are traveling and right now you are between trips.
Other acceptable cover stories are:
I’m doing something for the government and I can’t talk about it.
I’m doing field research for my Ph.D. in human sexuality.
I’m not what I appear to be. Someday mankind will understand.
REMEMBER, THE RIGHT RESPONSE CAN INTRIGUE, SEDUCE, OR GET FOLKS TO LEAVE YOU ALONE. PICK THE ONE THAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU.
Step One C
Scale down your material needs.
Reassess your cable TV requirements.
Did you get the Disney channel for the kids? Cancel it. There are a hell of a lot more foul-mouthed neo-Nazi drug dealers in the world than fuzzy little cartoon rodents, so from an educational perspective they’re better off watching Showtime.
Take a careful look at your diet.
Meat, poultry, and fish are expensive, as are fruits and vegetables.
Why flush all this hard cash through your excretory system when you can survive quite nicely on economy-sized bags of dry salty snacks? You did it when you were a college student, right? Are you healthier now than you were then? I doubt it. You were athletic, bursting with energy, and you had to beat off eager sex partners with a stick? Am I right?
Borrow, don’t buy.
Chances are pretty good that you know people who own just about anything you’ll ever want or need. Clothes, tools, cooking utensils, home electronics, jewelry. Borrow it.
Example: Nice jacket. Say, could I borrow that?
Example: Gee, I’m remodeling my rumpus room. Do you think I could borrow your beltsander?
Example: My mother’s coming over Sunday and I bought a fifty-pound turkey. Can I borrow your roasting pan?
Example: Say, I’ve been thinking of buying a stereo system just like that one. Could I borrow it, just to try it out?
Example: That brooch would look perfect with my new earrings? Do you think I could borrow it?
Be sure to create the impression that you will promptly return the borrowed item. Bear in mind that most people are far too unassertive to press the issue, and will refrain from mentioning it until enough time has passed for you to:
A Feign ignorance.
Example: “Brooch? What brooch?”
B Insist that you returned it.
Example: “Don’t your remember? I gave it back to you last May 31. Don’t you remember? You were wearing sort of a grayish outfit and we were discussing the Federal deficit and I said “Oh, by the way, before I forget, here’s your stereo system.”
C Permanently resettle in another state.
D Become employed again and be in a position to invest in your own roasting pan.
NEXT: The Job Interview
Being your own boss is the American dream.
But look at the downside.
No matter what product or service you offer, there are lots of other people in the very same business.
True, many of them are laid-off corporate middle managers who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and in an orgy of self-delusion have conned themselves into believing they can make a go of it as consultants. But that still leaves lots of highly experienced and talented professionals who could easily blow you right off the board in any head to head competitive situation.
Remember, hot air and fancy letterhead will only get you so far.
To discover your aptitude for “making it” in the rough and tumble world of self-employment, take this Simple Test:
I like the idea of being my own boss because: (Choose one)
A It makes me feel like a hunter in a Medieval German folk tale who’s pursued through the haunted forest by savage supernatural wolves and survives in the end because he’s strong and brave and has magical powers and also gets a lucky break when the wolves are running across a frozen marsh and crash through the ice and drown.
B I can give myself lots of vacation and go to the beach whenever I want.
C I can express all the facets of my personality and align them in different configurations, setting in motion complex human dramas involving management/employee relations and the inevitable office politics, thus creating a squalid incestuous environment where passions run rampant, ambition is king, and loins are enflamed with lust.
How did you do? No matter how you answered, bear in mind that sheer chance is a major player in the world of self-employment.
FREELANCING, CONSULTING, INDEPENDENT CONTRACTING, AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP ARE CRAPSHOOTS WITHIN THE LARGER CRAPSHOOT THAT WE CALL LIFE.
If you decide to take a shot at it, enhance your success potential by following this One Easy Step:
Step One A
Keep overhead LOW.
The first thing many budding entrepreneurs do is run right out and buy a satellite-guided, solar-powered, voice-activated “smart phone,” a fancy computer, a fax machine/scanner and miscellaneous office supplies. They have a logo designed, and invest heavily in business cards and letterhead. They retain a lawyer and accountant to help them navigate the complexities of starting and running their own enterprise.
Unfortunately, all of these things are necessary if you expect to have the remotest chance in hell of keeping afloat in today’s brutally competitive economy.
BUT IF YOU THINK YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF TO BUY THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, THINK AGAIN.
Sure, it’s tempting to buy the most expensive phone, computer, fax machine etc., but most of the time you are paying for features that no one ever uses. In fact, I bet some of these buttons and switches don’t really do anything. What does this “chan” on my deluxe executive speakerphone mean? Sure, it’s got a vaguely exotic, Oriental flavor, but how much is it worth to me? Take a good look at your fax machine. What does the “delay” button do? Is “delay” a useful function when your business is fighting for its life and time is money?
REMEMBER, IF A MACHINE HAS ANY FUNCTIONS WHOSE PURPOSE WOULDN’T BE IMMEDIATELY APPARENT TO THE MOST TECHNICALLY INEPT PERSON YOU’VE EVER MET, GET A CHEAPER MODEL.
Step One B
Human beings are repositories of money and information. They can throw business your way, and provide valuable leads that you can use to generate income.
While it’s a safe bet that you know your way around a computer, it’s possible that you are a people illiterate. Maybe you are even a little intimidated by people, and think you can manage without them. This is a dangerously misguided attitude which can only lead to bankruptcy and ruin. People are here to stay, and the trick is to view them as sophisticated tools that can make you rich. Yes, they are complex, but, just like your familiar old computer, it’s a matter of knowing what buttons to push. Most people respond well to sex, flattery, protestations of undying friendship, the prospect of financial gain, outright bribes, and plausible threats.
For example, if someone is in a position to give you a huge contract for office aquarium maintenance (or whatever your racket happens to be), you might offer to have sex with that person in exchange for the account.
Example: “Let’s grab a bottle of booze and check into a motel. I’d love to take care of your fish.”
If someone has proprietary information that will give you a competitive edge, you can compliment them on their suit before pumping them for data.
Example: “Nice suit, Harry. So how much did Fishotronics bid on that maintenance contract?”
Step One C
Make sure you provide a product or service that people CAN’T DO WITHOUT.
Your best bets are plumbing, erotica, and food. We could expand this list, but criminal activities are beyond the scope of this book.
Sell bathroom fixtures, produce dirty movies, open a pizza parlor, and watch the money roll in.
Why not get creative?
Make hand-crafted erotic bathroom fixtures, with pipes, handles, and drains shaped like human private parts. Open a topless pizza parlor. Produce dirty movies where all the sex scenes take place in the bathroom of a pizza parlor.
Bad businesses to be in are notions, knick-knacks, and bric-a-brac.
IN TODAY’S SAVAGE ECONOMIC CLIMATE, KNICK-KNACK BUDGETS ARE AT AN ALL TIME LOW. ANALYSTS PROJECT A STEADY DECLINE IN THE ORNAMENTAL ACCESSORIES MARKET WELL INTO THE TWENTY-SECOND CENTURY!
NEXT: You’re Unemployed
YOU MIGHT LOSE YOUR JOB (THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING)
As a matter of fact, at some point, you will lose your job, along with everything else.
That ‘s because you are going to die. Depressing? Not at all.
Remember, life is a crapshoot, which means it’s a game. Games don’t last forever. You can’t spend eternity in a casino, rolling dice.
Win or lose, you’ve got to leave the table at some point, maybe to go the bathroom. Of course, with a dice game you can start playing again when you’re finished in the bathroom. If you’re a big winner, you can probably find somebody willing to go up to your hotel room with you and have sex, and then you can go back to the casino, feeling sort of loose and relaxed. And if you lose, you can always pull yourself together and make a fresh start, maybe get a job pumping gas and put aside a few bucks every week so after a while you can take another crack at the tables.
OK, I guess the part about dying is depressing, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Focusing on death, however, should help you keep your job in perspective.
Too many people just automatically assume that losing their jobs is a bad thing that will lead to financial hardship, social ostracism, diminished self-esteem, marital difficulties, and stress-related medical problems. In fact, job loss can be the beginning of an exciting new period in your life, a time of explosive personal development, a golden opportunity to dig down into your inner resources and unearth talents and capabilities that have lain dormant, lurking in their dank subterranean lairs, just waiting for a chance to burst out of their fetid slimy pods and transport you to a NEW PLANE OF CONSCIOUSNESS, where you’ll shriek with demented laughter at the PRE-TRANSCENDENT MODE OF THINKING that could attach the slightest importance to a matter so COSMICALLY INSIGNIFICANT as a JOB.
To learn more about why you have such a big problem with the idea of losing your job, take this Simple Test:
When you think of your job, which of these words or phrases come immediately to mind? (Circle all applicable responses)
extra-galactic space zombies LIVING IN MY DESK
save for retirement
policies and procedures
How did you do? Did you circle healthy responses, sick responses, or a combination of both?
Most people circle a combination of both, some circle all the responses, and still others don’t circle anything.
Those who circle all the responses are compulsive, and they are utterly terrified of leaving anything out.
People who don’t circle anything are terrified of committing themselves, and are convinced that these are trick questions that will somehow be used against them. Sometimes these noncommittal types choose instead to circle all the healthy responses, believing that this is a good way to evade punishment.
Exclusively unhealthy response patterns are common among artists, engineers, and the mentally ill.
Remember, IF YOU HAVE A JOB, YOU WILL EVENTUALLY LOSE IT.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO?
Just follow this One Easy Step:
Step One A
Play the lottery.
Your state probably has one, but if not, find a state that does. The odds against your winning are astronomical, but it’s better than no hope at all. Let’s face it, do you have any better options? I doubt it.
Also explore the Canadian lottery, as well as lotteries in other foreign countries. European lotteries usually pay off in the currency of your choice, tax-free. While Euros may sound glamorous, stick with the stable and reliable U.S. dollar. The best place to stash your cash is in a numbered Swiss bank account. Of course, you should always consult an attorney well versed in international fiduciary law before engaging in any transaction involving significant funds.
Handling your wealth wisely will be a big challenge, but it’s a lot better than that stupid job that you were so worried about.
FROM YOUR LUXURIOUS VILLA ON THE RIVIERA, SURROUNDED BY TOADIES AND SYCOPHANTS, IT WILL ALL SEEM LIKE A BAD DREAM, SLAVING AWAY FIFTY AND SIXTY HOURS A WEEK JUST TO KEEP ONE STEP AHEAD OF THE COLLECTION AGENCY, DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION BY VICIOUS MALEVOLENT FORCES TOTALLY BEYOND YOUR CONTROL, JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE A POOR HONEST WORKING STIFF WITH NO MONEY, NO POWER, AND NO PROSPECTS, TRYING TO EKE OUT A MARGINAL LIVING IN A COLD AND HOSTILE WORLD.
Step One B
Detachment can be achieved by philosophical or religious means.
The religious approach is a little tricky, because it usually requires a leap of faith and often involves the supernatural. However, there’s an old show biz saying that IF YOU BUY THE PREMISE, YOU BUY THE BIT, so if you can suspend disbelief and hammer down that nagging cynicism, it’s probably worth a shot.
Among the better educated, philosophy is usually the more palatable alternative.
READ ANY PHILOSOPHER, FROM ANTIQUITY TO MODERN TIMES. NONE OF THEM EVEN MENTIONS “JOB.” “JOB” IS A PATHETIC CONCEPT WHEN VIEWED AGAINST THE VAST PANORAMA OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. “JOB” IS ONE SMALL HAIR FROM THE NETHER REGIONS OF AN UNCLEAN MYTHOLOGICAL BEAST. IS “JOB” A FIT PREOCCUPATION FOR A RATIONAL BEING? YOU SHOULD WEAR THIS “JOB” OF YOURS LIGHTLY, AND STAND READY TO CAST IT ASIDE AND BURST FORTH UPON THE UNIVERSE AS JOBLESS AS THE DAY YOU WERE BORN, A FREE SPIRIT, FROLICKING IN THE IMMENSITY OF TIME AND SPACE, BEREFT OF SHELTER AND WITH EMPTY HANDS.
Step One C
Delay the inevitable.
There’s an old saying, “Maybe you can’t win, but you can lose slower.” There are many effective strategies for hanging onto your job. They are:
Do a good job. This is every bit as tough as it sounds, and it certainly isn’t for everybody. And there’s no guarantee it will do you any good at all. But in combination with other strategies it may give you an edge.
Suck up to superiors. This is easy, as long as you can swallow your pride, which is an easily ingested bolus indeed for most people who have worked in a corporate environment for any length of time.
Remember, though, that you’ll have lots of competition, so to stand out from the crowd you really have to degrade yourself in a conspicuous manner. Practice saying ‘YES!’ faster and louder than your colleagues. For useful tips, pay attention to how your boss acts around his boss.
Go out on disability. Start complaining now about your bad back. That way, when the ax starts to fall, you can collapse at your desk moaning about your crumbling diseased vertebrae. Do it in the presence of witnesses. And be sure to carefully follow all procedures for reporting on-the-job injuries.
NEXT: You’re Self-Employed
YOU’RE A SUBORDINATE
First, make sure you qualify as a subordinate.
To find out, take this Simple Test:
True or false?
I do actual work (as opposed to desperately trying to perpetuate the bizarre fiction that my lame efforts at leadership, motivation, and other “management” functions somehow play a vital role in getting others to do actual work).
True ____ False:____
I can describe what I do on the job without saying “facilitate,” “coordinate,” “expedite.”
True ____ False:____
I once killed a guy in a bar for using the word “paradigm.”
True ____ False:____
If you answered “True” to at least two of these questions, you’re a subordinate. Without you, civilization as we know it stop dead in its tracks and the “bosses” of the world would drown in their own spit.
And what reward do you get? Subsistence wages, high taxes, and a government that exists solely for the purpose of robbing you blind.
What a rip-off. You’re being played for a sucker by miserable flabby worthless pigs, snuffling and chuckling all the way to the bank.
THEY’RE LAUGHING AT YOU, ALL THOSE FAT RANCID GREEDY PORKERS, LIVING HIGH ON THE HOG OFF OF YOUR SWEAT.
So what are you going to do about it? Just follow this One Easy Step:
Step One A
Explore your options. You may have more alternatives than you think.
Spend the next five minutes writing down all the things you could do with your life besides being exploited by porcine scum who on the NIGHT OF ULTIMATE RETRIBUTION will be the first to the wall.
Don’t limit yourself to things you really expect to happen. Just let your imagination run wild.
To provide you with some helpful ideas, and to amuse myself, I ordered some of the underlings who do research and fetch coffee for me to make a list of their endearing little fantasy alternatives, and this is what they came up with:
Claudio would like toBuy an island in the South Pacific and convince the inhabitants that I’m a god from outer space and they better do what I say if they know what’s good for them.
John’s dream is to Organize a start-up religion with a flexible, worshipper-oriented philosophy to compete with existing major players like Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc.
Petula’s ambition is to Produce and direct non-judgmental, non-exploitive erotic films that depict modern women exploring their orgasmic potential within the context of a wide variety of non-traditional intimate relationships.
If Vic had his way, he’d Be a janitor at a girls’ prep school and have the power to make myself invisible whenever I want.
The more Vic thinks about it, he’d rather Audition actresses for porno movies.
Vic’s fantasy inspires Petula to wish she could Invent an easily concealable, totally silent, and completely undetectable remote control castration device.
Step One B
Analyze what’s on your list. How many items represent realistic goals?
Remember, just because you want to do something, or like to do something, or even are good at doing something, doesn’t mean it will rake in enough cash to keep you out of the gutter.
I know I told you to let your imagination run wild, but even so, the average person has enough common sense to stick with the do-able.
Most people fail in life because they overestimate their own abilities.
ANOTHER FATAL MISTAKE IS HAVING FAITH THAT “EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT FOR THE BEST.” THIS IS A BIZARRE MISCONCEPTION. WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
Maybe at some point in antiquity a series of events just happened to “work out for the best” in someone’s life, and that person made a completely unwarranted extrapolation from this anomalous and perhaps unprecedented happy resolution. Possibly this person was a philosopher, historian, or scribe, with a ready-made and unsophisticated audience for his wildly inaccurate, pernicious, but authoritative-sounding drivel.
LOOK, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO FOLLOW YOUR DREAM, GO AHEAD. BUT BE PREPARED FOR LOTS OF REJECTION AND RIDICULE, NOT TO MENTION THE EVER-LOOMING SPECTER OF FINANCIAL DISASTER. TALK TO YOUR ACCOUNTANT, RESEARCH ALL APPLICABLE TAX CODES, WORK OUT A DETAILED BACK-UP PLAN TO DEAL WITH A WORST-CASE SCENARIO, AND THEN GO FOR IT, IF YOU’RE REALLY SURE THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
Step One C
Remember, being a subordinate isn’t so bad, as long as you don’t take your job too seriously. Other helpful tips:
Find an outlet for your frustrations, like regular vigorous exercise or a hobby. Good hobbies are stamp collecting and bowling.
Just to be on the safe side, avoid keeping any firearms in the house capable of semi-automatic fire and having a magazine capacity greater than seven rounds.
Don’t spend too much time alone, brooding and drinking, especially if your favorite album is Marching Songs of the Third Reich.
Adult education classes are a great way to meet people and keep your mind occupied. Learn ballroom dancing, woodworking, or a foreign language.
Seek professional help. Many mental health practitioners have a sliding fee scale. Find one who is willing to accommodate your budget. This shouldn’t be all that difficult, because many of them are hard up for clients. Remember, if you don’t haggle over price THEY’LL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOU.
DON’T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT.
NEXT: You Might Lose Your Job
YOU’RE THE BOSS!
First of all, use this Simple Test to ascertain with absolute certainty that you are, in fact, the boss:
True or False:
I spend the working day firing off memos and sucking up to superiors while backstabbing colleagues and inflicting petty cruelties on subordinates.
If you answered “True,” then congratulations! You’re the boss.
A modicum of poweris your pathetic reward for years of craven butt licking. But maybe not. Maybe power has been vouchsafed to you because of your rare combination of competence, charisma, and a happy facility for persuading various parties with a wide range of agendas to strike a workable compromise where everybody wins.
Happy facility my ass.
But forget about that for now and take another Simple Test:
You’re a nine-year old boy and it’s Halloween. Your mother takes you to the store to buy a costume. She waited till the last minute and now there are only two left.
• A clown costume
• A suit of armor and plastic sword, labeled ”Joan of Arc Fire Retardant Kiddie Fun Ensemble”
You like the armor and sword a lot, but you can’t go out as Joan of Arc, because she was a girl. But who wants to be a clown, and look like a jerk and have everybody laugh at you?
Why did they have to call it a Joan of Arc costume, anyway? Armor is armor, right? Maybe not. Maybe anyone could tell just by looking that this is a girl outfit. You wonder what it would be like to wear something designed for a girl. You think about the time you put on Mom’s pantyhose, and how funny it made you feel. You’re confused and upset. It would be great if you could just get the sword from the Joan of Arc costume, and wear it with the clown suit. That way nobody would laugh at you because if they did you could stab them with the sword.
But the store’s about to close and you have to make up your mind. You decide to get the clown suit, and at the checkout you ask the clerk if it’s a boy clown suit. The clerk says it doesn’t make any difference, they’re all the same. The world seems like a grim and hostile place, and you wish you could skip Halloween altogether and watch TV. That night, before heading out for trick or treat, you go to the basement for a nice short length of two by four to slip into your shopping bag. You look for one with nails sticking out of it. If anybody laughs, you’ll be ready.
True or False:
The pantyhose thing was just a little harmless joke. You were bored and just sort of a kidding around, all by yourself. The whole incident is barely worth remembering, and has no psychological significance or relevance to the person you are today.
True ____ False:____
Remember, in order to keep the world from ever getting even a fleeting glimpse of the REAL YOU, it is absolutely essential that you CLING TO POWER.
The good news is that clinging to power isn’t particularly difficult. In fact, all it takes is One Easy Step:
Step One A
Throw your weight around. Pull rank. Treat your subordinates like irresponsible children who need constant surveillance and harsh discipline. Invent convoluted closed loop processes and insist on undeviating adherence to each pointless step.
Behave in a capricious and high-handed fashion. Utter every pronouncement with an air of finality that brooks no contention, and then abruptly reverse your position.
Subordinates should never know what you are really thinking (if anything), or where you really stand on any issue (if in fact you have any position at all).
Cultivating an atmosphere of uncertainty is a great way to sow confusion and provoke terror.
Bear in mind that subordinates are tools, playthings, and instruments of your destiny. Use them as you will. You’re the boss.
Step One B
It’s not enough to act like a dynamo. You’ve got to create an illusion of industry and indispensability by calling attention to every move you make.
Let’s say you’ve finished writing a report or, more likely, forced a subordinate to finish writing it.
Get someone on the phone and inform him that you’ve finished the report. Then get someone else on the phone and inform him that you’ve informed the first person about having finished the report. Produce a memo detailing these two conversations, and distribute it to at least four other people.
Your cover for all this aggressively shameless self-promotion, by the way, is that you want to keep your colleagues “in the picture” because you believe strongly in being “a team player.”
Get the idea?
Remember, if a couple of dozen people aren’t aware that you did something, for all practical purposes IT NEVER HAPPENED.
If your co-workers and superiors start wondering aloud just what it is you been up to lately, you are doomed.
Step One C
Suck up to your superiors.
Remember, your bosses are just like you, except they make more money. Expect them to shove you around and treat you like a pile of rat droppings, while insisting that you respond with unconditional personal loyalty. Act as if it’s a privilege to be abused by such a supernaturally talented and charismatic group of organizational wizards and born leaders. Never enter the presence of a superior without working yourself into a suitably abject physical and mental state. Condition yourself by doing shallow breathing exercises while repeating the Mantra of Self-Abasement, (“I suck”).
REMEMBER, YOUR CAREFULLY CULTIVATED TALENT FOR SUCKING UP TO SUPERIORS IS THE ONLY THING STANDING BETWEEN YOU AND THE GUTTER. SO TUCK THAT TAIL BETWEEN YOUR LEGS AND GO FOR IT!
NEXT: You’re a Subordinate
GLOBAL COMPETITION AND YOU
There’s a lot of talk these days about global competition. What does this mean to you? Take this Simple Test::
True or False:
On an average day, I engage in strenuous global competition for at least forty-five minutes.
True ____ False: ____
I am a fundamentally unhappy person because: (Circle one)
A Protectionist trade policies of unscrupulous foreigners
B “Dumping” by unscrupulous foreigners of semiconductors in the U.S. market
C Insidious foreign plot to compete unfairly with U.S. industry by seducing consumers with high quality products at reasonable price
D I’m illiterate, lazy, and have abandoned the work ethic. Also, I whine a lot.
How did you do? If you’re like most people, you don’t spend any time at all in global competition. Maybe you work for a big company that engages in global competition, but what does that have to do with you?
Let’s say your job title is Director of Global Competition.
Does that mean you spend hours every day locked in head to head combat with seasoned adversaries from Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, and Luxembourg? Hell no. Chances are you spend most of your time hassling subordinates and sucking up to superiors. I can see you now, firing off E-mail messages, yelling at your secretary to “Get so-and-so on the phone,” and making as much noise as possible at every little mundane task, thereby creating an illusion of force, industry, and indispensability.
GLOBAL COMPETITION MY ASS.
And what the hell have YOU got to be unhappy about?
Try working for a Japanese company, running your butt into the ground sixteen hours a day, bursting into song at enforced group singalongs, watching your buddies drop dead in the street from exhaustion and stress and wondering if you’ll be around to smell next year’s cherry blossoms.
There’s no point in being fat and dumb if you can’t be
happy at the same time.
But what if you actually do compete globally? Follow this One Easy Step:
Step One A
If you’re competing globally you’ve put yourself in an untenable, no win situation. How could you let this happen?
I don’t compete globally and I don’t know anybody else who does, either. My plumber doesn’t compete globally. He’sno fool.
STOP COMPETING GLOBALLY!
Step One B
Let’s say you own a small company that’s trying to carve out a modest niche in the lucrative consumer electronics market.
Are you out of your mind? Foreigners OWN consumer electronics.
Try to find a wealthy foreigner willing to buy your company. Use the money to get into some business that’s too trivial for foreigners to bother with, like a pet store or residential cleaning service.
Step One C
At least three times every day, repeat this Mantra of Self- Castigation: “My unhappiness is a product of my character flaws, my bizarre misconceptions, my carefully cultivated delusions.”
OK? Get it through your head that your problems have nothing to do with global competition and Toyotas.
You know, on top of everything else, you probably watch too much TV news, which has warped your sense of reality. All those strident “lead stories” about trade imbalances and the struggle for the Pacific Rim. Do you even know what “Pacific Rim” means?
GO AHEAD. DEFINE “PACIFIC RIM.” CAN’T DO IT, CAN YOU?
TOMORROW: You’re the Boss