Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hollywood Phone Calls

Why doesn’t anyone in Hollywood understand how to properly use a phone?

This observation may not sink in with you immediately, but the next time you get to see a Hollywood phone conversation on your favorite show you’ll agree with exactly what I’m about to describe here.

Actors in the movies and on television hang up on the person they are speaking to without ever ending the conversation like a typical person would in the real world.  Pay attention next time you see a Hollywood phone call in progress and you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about.

Jack says into his phone, “I need the schematics made available immediately.”  The person on the other end of the phone says, “Alright.  I’ll get right on that.”  Click!  And he hangs up!

You wouldn’t do that in the real world.  No one said goodbye.  In the real world there would be at least an additional question or a concluding statement.

“Anything else?”

Jack says, “No.”

“Ok then.  I’ll talk to you later.”

Jack should then conclude with an “Ok. Bye.”  And then the hang up would occur.

What if Jack was about to add to the conversation, “and there is a bomb in your building.”  The guy on the other end of the phone would have had no clue.  He probably deserves to get blown up for exercising poor phone protocol.

I’ve seen basically the exact same conversation played out with Jack being the one who hangs up on the person he called too.

Jack says into his phone, “I need the schematics made available immediately.”  The person on the other end of the phone says, “Alright.  I’ll get right on that.”  Click!  And then Jack hangs up on him!

In this scenario, I always feel bad for the guy who has no chance to ask a follow-on question that he may have.

“Jack, I need to know what floor of the building you need the schematics for.  Hello?  Hello?”  And then he thinks to himself, “That stupid loser just hung up on me!  I don’t remember saying goodbye.  Screw him and his schematics.  Let him find the bomb all by himself.  I’m going to lunch.”


And then there are the more romantic Hollywood phone calls.  Same thing happens here too.  No one in the real world ever hangs up on someone they care for after someone says something like “I miss you” or “I can’t wait to see you again”.

Try this on your significant other.  After they say “I miss you”, you say “I miss you too” and then just hang the phone up.  I guarantee you’ll be getting a call back in ten seconds or less.

“Why did you just hang up on me?”

“I thought we were done talking.”

“Maybe I don’t miss you so much now.”


Buy my book.  Alright?  I’m still on the line waiting for a response.

The Interview

Several jobs ago I was asked to interview a potential candidate for an opening that our company was offering.  The position was for a technical professional engineering role.  I’ve hosted many interviews in the past.  I think I am good at putting the candidate at ease as well as seeing their true colors.  From the very first interview that I ever did, I promised myself that I would never ask the “What is your greatest strength/weakness?”  Has anyone ever really answered that question with an honest reply?

“Strength?  Sure, I’m a real self motivated self-starter with an amazing attention for details and I can burp my ABC’s out the letter M on a good day.”

“Weakness?  Sure, sometimes I care about the schedule of a project a bit too much.  So much so that I willingly take work home in order to better prepare for the following day and I have a weak stomach that frequently produces explosive diarrhea.”

So I’m interviewing this one particular individual that I took to lunch.  I always enjoy handling the lunch time part of an interview.  We landed at a fancy Chinese restaurant.  The candidate is answering all of my questions without that spark that I needed to see.  Unfortunately, he is not going to make my “A” list.  We return to the work place and I hand him off to the next interviewer on his schedule.  It was uneventful.  However, several days later, I received a call from the restaurant.  It seems that the management of this restaurant had the un-rewarding task of tracking down each of their customers from the previous days to inform them all that one of their employees, who had just returned from overseas, was diagnosed with Hepatitis.  And because this person was the one handling the lemons for the glasses of water, he exposed everyone who dined there.  The restaurant was making a doctor and a shot available at their cost for everyone who needed to be inoculated for this particular disease.

I feel that I should tell you that I got my shot right away and never had any symptoms what-so-ever.  So if and when we meet one day, you can shake my hand without any thoughts of cooties.  And continued reading of this story will not affect your health in any way.

Here is where I decided that blowing off my responsibility of contacting the person I interviewed was the best path for me.  The following morning I marched down to Human Resources and talked to the hiring manager.  “Look.  About that interview I conducted the other day.  Would you please contact him to let him know that he isn’t the right fit for the position?  And tell him he needs a booster inoculation shot too.”

Better them than me.  Can you image being on the receiving end of that phone call?

“Hello Mr. Jones.  I’m calling to tell you that we have selected another candidate for the position you interviewed for.  And you just might have Hepatitis.”

“So you’re telling me that I didn’t get the job and my liver may be starting to fail?  Was it something I said?”

Buy my vaccinated book.
(The kindle version for amazon prime members is now free!)

Boy of Summer

My son had his first baseball game of the Fall League.  This particular league is very informal.  All the rules are followed, of course, but this season of ball can be used to explore other positions that the players may want to try.  A couple of innings in the outfield, a couple on third base, maybe he’ll pitch an inning here or there.

The team we were playing had just enough players to play the game—nine, for those of you who need a baseball lesson.  During one of the inning changes my son jogged in from the outfield because it was now his team’s turn at bat.  I watched him kick around the dugout, drink some water, and then jog back out to the play left field!  Oh no!  What is he doing?  How embarrassing for him.  What a bizarre mistake to make.  He was standing in the outfield with the other team!  Clearly the heat was getting to him making him go crazy.

I started flailing my arms like a crazy man trying to get his attention.  It appeared to him that I was trying to coach from the sidelines and tell where to stand.  He moved over a couple of feet and gave me the thumbs-up sign.  I so wanted him to sprint back to the dugout to avoid the ridicule that was no doubt coming.  I ran over to the coach and whispered in a frantic kind of way, “Coach!  Logan is in left field!”

“He is alright.  The other team had a player that had to leave early and their coach asked to borrow one of our players.  Logan was the first to volunteer.  I like his enthusiasm.”

Whew.  That’s way better.  I thought I was raising a baseball loser-freak for a minute there.

The coach added, “As I was sending him out there, he stopped, turned around, and asked me if he should try his best, or drop anything hit to him.”  That’s my son—the team player.  As it turned out, he almost threw out one of his teammates at home plate.  The ball was just a fraction of a second too late.  Maybe he held it just long enough to purposely miss the out.  Just maybe.

Buy my book, coach.  I’m ready to play.

Resume of a Teenager

Since I wrote a blog entry the other day with a topic that covered one of my job duties as a teenager, I been cruising up and down memory lane with respect to all the other jobs I held.  The following is basically my teenage resume.  I think you’ll find it very impressive.

Baskin Robins 31:  I started working when I was fifteen years old.  I would ride my bicycle and park it in the back room of the ice-cream shop.  I was scooping ice-cream for a paltry $2.10.  The minimum wage at the time was $3.55, but the child labor laws did not seem to bother the owners of this fine upstanding community business.  The crooks that owned and ran the place paid me in cash and a free cup of ice-cream after every shift.

Taco Bell:  Later, I landed a job at Taco Bell.  When I was on break I would alter the foil disposable ash trays (yeah, it was that long ago) to read “Taco Hell”.  It’s fairly easy to change a “B” into an “H”.  I actually got “fired” from this wonderful position after only a week and a half.  You see, when I was filling out the application there was a line for stating your age.  The required age for the hours that they wanted me to work was sixteen.  I was still only fifteen at the time.  When I filled out the application, I fudged my “15” to look like a “16”—a sloppy five looks like a lot like a six.

So this blatant lie caught up to me as they were filling out the required tax forms for a new employee.  After working a full week and half, the manager informed me of my dismissal and actually said that he wasn’t sure he could pay me for the hours I already worked.

I told him I was sure they could.  And they did.

Arby’s:  I once refused to clean a bathroom that was covered in barf.  I’ve cleaned the bathrooms a zillion times before, but on that one particular night I took a stand.  I informed my manager that I don’t get paid enough to deal with that mess.  I was willing to resign my glorious position and go work at the McDonald’s down the street.  The manager (a nice guy) actually agreed with me and he cleaned the mess up himself.

Thing is, he didn’t make enough money for that task either.  I’m not sure anyone does.

For the record, it was the girl’s room.

Best Warehouse:  This job was only available to me during the Christmas seasons.  I did two tours of this duty.  There was this electronic store that sold televisions and other large bulky items.  A small team of four people and I would be working on the storage side of the warehouse which was located on the second floor.  There was this tiny little dot matrix printer that would kick out an “order” for some customer that was somewhere down at the bottom of a conveyor belt.  The “order” would be a brief description of what the item was, which aisle held the item, and finally which shelf would I find the item sitting.  My job was to grab the order, run to the location of the product, carry the product to the top of the belt, put the product on the conveyor belt, send it down, and then grab the next order and go again.  This conveyor belt ran down from our nasty warehouse to the beautiful showroom down below.  Our customer’s were always beaming with smiles as they would see their product moving swiftly down the belt into their arms.

Well no one told me how to properly place a twenty-seven inch television on the belt.  That was a “huge” television back in those days.  The proper way to place it on the belt is to make sure a corner of the box is pointing down the belt.  Doing it this way, the box won’t flip and roll down the conveyor belt.

You should see the look on a customer face when their brand new television comes rolling down the conveyor belt toward their happy little face.  The expression goes from joy to horror in an instant.  The customer at the bottom looked up at me a politely asked me to retrieve another one.  I reversed the belt and brought the television back up.  I properly sent down a different television—correctly angled this time.

I put the “rolled” television back on the shelf for the next customer that ordered one up.

Balloons To You:  I held a position as chief balloon inflator—a title that I gave myself.  This job’s duties were exactly what you think they are: Blow up balloons and deliver them to the address that you’re told.  Most of the deliveries were to weddings.  Letting go of balloons just after getting married symbolizes your previous single guy freedom escaping your grasp.  Oh relax.  I’m happily married and if you ask my wife, she’ll confirm that.

Anyway, the interesting aspect of this particular job was the major balloon launches for grand openings of large businesses—thousands of balloons.  This is accomplished by starting at 10 pm.  You enter the bottom of what can best be described as a very large bounce house.  Ours was shaped like a giant hot air balloon.  There is just enough room inside this inflatable structure for four people to stand shoulder to shoulder in a small circle.  Once situated, you start blowing up balloons from a helium hose that has four nozzles.  When the balloon is fully inflated, tie a super fast knot and let it go.  It comes to rest on the inside the ceiling…and then you do the next one.  And the next one.  Until finally, there are no more balloons to inflate.   This usually takes all night.  Typically the finally balloon would be blown up somewhere around eight in the morning or so.  This job is an all-nighter.

You finish, wait for the business to give you the nod, pull the cord that opens the top of the structure, and all the balloons float away.  Ten complete hours of effort, for what?  If the breeze is typical, you can see the balloons for about ten minutes.  Yeah, that’s worth it.

Revco:  See blog entry here.

Man Tech:  Not much to say about this position.  I sat at a computer and typed in numbers all day.  I don’t even know what the numbers were for or why they were on printouts that they handed me.  All I know is that the company wanted them typed in and I was rather fast at punching numbers.

It sucked.

Firestone Mastercard:  Aside from the night shift of blowing up balloons, this position was my only experience at working third shift.  The purpose of this job was to open credit card payments sent in by ever so happy credit card holders.  There was this real cool machine that would advance a line-up of envelopes past a blade that would slice open the bottom of the envelope and then the side of it too.  From there it would use these tiny little arms to pull and hold open the envelope.  All of this was controlled with a foot pedal.  You tap the pedal and the assembly line of envelopes would progress.  The goal of the line was to sort the mail into three piles: a payment in full, a payment less than the total amount due, or other.  All night long the machine would present you a held open envelope with its tiny little mechanical arms.  You grab the contents, make a determination on full payment or not, place the check in one of the three piles.  Absolutely fascinating—not.

My biggest memory of this mind numbing job was how often individuals would write horrible things on the memo line of their checks.  People would actually write things like “go to hell!” on that line (or worse).  That, my dear credit card user, is not the intend purpose of the check memo line.  Was it actually me that these people wanted to see traveling to hell?  I was just an envelope opener trying to earn a dollar.  And I wasn’t the one who bought a ton of crap that I couldn’t afford.  I would usually put their checks into the “other” pile to increase the possibility of it being marked as a late payment.  Screw you Mr. Surprised-By-My-Balance.

By the time seven am rolled around, I felt like I was in hell.  Odd, those people kind of got their wish.

Wolf  Systems:  I worked for a computer company that would put together customized computers and networks for other small companies.  I had this job just as Windows 3.1 was gaining a lot of popularity.  I liked the graphical nature of the wild new “Microsoft Windows” thing, but I was totally convinced that the “mouse” would never catch on.  “I wouldn’t buy stock in this company until they realize that the keyboard is the only input device you’ll ever need.”

I may have been on the wrong side of that innovation, but you should have seen all the crazy keyboard shortcuts that I knew.

College:  And then I went to college so that I can get “real” jobs.

Buy my book so that I can quit my real job.

I Found Everything Just Fine

There is a trend that I have noticed in my grocery store.  The aim of this trend is to make the customer feel like each and every employee is there to help you, to make you feel welcomed, to kiss your ass.  I’ve noticed that the people running the registers have now been trained to say “Hi!  Did you find everything you needed today?”  I don’t want to sound like I don’t appreciate customer service and this new found attention, but am I to believe that the sixteen year-old working this lane on a Friday night actually cares if I found my brand of toothpaste?  Or that the way-past-retirement cash register jockey will be concerned with my inability to find my favorite type of orange.

I don’t think I have ever answered the question with a “no”.  What happens when you respond in that fashion?  Will they drop everything and help you retrieve the long lost over-looked item?  I think next time I’ll just bring my grocery list and go directly to the check-out.  When they ask the question, I’ll say, “Nope, I couldn’t find anything on this list right here.”  I’ll hand over the list and they will have to do my shopping for me.

Although their training is probably a good thing, I think the further training lesson of don’t-be-a-robot needs to be taught as well.  For instance, if I walk up to the register with only one item in my hand and my wallet in the other hand, it’s a fairly safe bet that I came into the store looking for only this one item.  You need not serve up the question.

I place a single bottle of pop on the check-out belt and I have a five dollar bill in the other.

“Did you find everything you needed?”

“Oh no!  It’s a good thing you spoke up!  I was actually here to shop for Thanksgiving dinner!  Good thing you caught me in time.  My family would have been so disappointed with only this bottle of pop to serve.”

Buy my book in aisle seven on the left top shelf half way down.

Running the Register

When I was a young punk so long ago, I had a summer job working at a drug store.  I would stock shelves and run the register.  I remember my overzealous manager harping on us to remember to always hand the customer their receipt.   “All returns must have a receipt.  So I don’t want to hear from any of our customers that they didn’t receive one.”  Yeah, that’s about as difficult as it got.  It was simple work for a simple time.

My favorite part of working the register was watching people’s behavior as they would purchase condoms.  As I noted, it was a long time ago, but this particular store was breaking out of the Stone Age by placing the condoms for sale in one of the aisles rather than behind the counter.  This way people can place the item in their basket without having to interact with the old man pharmacist or the young punk behind the counter (like me).

My job (people watching entertainment for a pay check) taught me that when men buy condoms they will always hide the box among other items.  A magazine, a bottle of pop, a box of condoms, and a candy bar.  See?  You probably didn’t even see the word “condom” in that last sentence.  I, being the good little cash register runner, would act like I didn’t notice their particular special item.  Although the voices in my head were always screaming.  “Twenty four pack, huh?  I guess that should last you until the end of the decade.  You know, these only have a shelf life of twelve months.”

Here is your receipt.  Have a nice night.

Women, on the other hand would walk right up to the counter, drop their box of condoms, pay for them, and be on their way.  Although I watched this behavior many times over, I’m still not sure if women are just bolder or simply trying to push through this awkward moment as fast as possible.  I’m leaning toward bolder.

There was this one time where this woman brought her box of condoms up to the counter and paid for them.  She stated that she didn’t need a bag, grabbed her purchase, and headed to the door.  I, like a good little employee, held out her receipt and said, “I have your receipt here.”

She turned around and looked me straight in the eye.  She held up her box of condoms, and said, “I’m only going to need that if these break.”

I put the receipt in the trash.

Buy my unbreakable book.

Bungee Jumping

Recently I was reminded of my single bungee jumping life experience.  It was a long time ago, back when I was in college on Spring break when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (if you ask my children).  A handful of friends and I drove down to South Padre Beach.  It was a weeklong break of acting stupid and doing stupid things—one of which was bungee jumping from a crane.

There were about ten cranes all lined up along the beach each set up holding a cage for stupid humans and a bungee cord.  However, there was only one that was set up over the water.  This particular setup allowed the jumper to actually enter the water during the first drop and then the subsequent bouncing would leave you above the water surface.  My group considered the options.  We could bungee jump like everyone else that ever has before or we could try the “water plunging” version which is more dangerous and more stupid.  Off to the water version we went.

The harness options were the next decisions to be made.  There were several options to choose from pertaining to how the cord is connected to your body.  Option one: connected by waist.  Only a wussy would choose this option.  Since none of us were wussies, let’s hear the next option.  Option two: connected by both feet bound together.  A fairly typical method—perhaps too typical.  What other options do you have?  Option three: the bungee cord connected to only one foot.  Oh yeah, that is the best stupid option for me.  If there was an option to be attached by just our toes, I would have been all over it.

So I get myself all hooked up and climb in to the cage.  During the very short and fast ride up to the dropping point, you get to hear all the instructions you will need to survive.  This complete lesson took about fifteen seconds to deliver and went something like this.  “Jump head first.  Feet first will cause your body to snap around so violently as you hit the water that you won’t be able to walk for weeks.  Cover you head with your arms and hands just before you hit the water.  If you don’t, you’ll have a headache for hours and hours.  You got all that?”  I nodded, starting to think twice about my risk-taking-stupidity.  “How much do you weigh?  If you lie to me you’ll hit the bottom.  We lose more girls that way.  Not a pretty sight.”

We each paid for two jumps a piece.  Here’s what happens on the first jump.  I have no idea.  I have no memories what so ever about the first jump.  I do remember climbing back into the cage and going up for the second jump.

The second jump included memories.  I’m not sure what changed to allow that to happen.  I learned one very interesting aspect of bungee jumping into water.  When you enter the water while diving head first and the bungee cord becomes fully extended, everything is fine.  An issue arises as you’re being swiftly ripped back out of the water.  Your nostrils (which are facing upward) scoop an amazing amount of water through your sinuses.  My nasal passages have never been so clean.  Not a booger to be found anywhere in my head.  They most likely were all in the water that I just plunged into.  How many people did this before me?

The other valuable lesson that I learned was not fully understood until the next day.  All of our hips were hurting on the leg that wasn’t attached to the bungee cord.  The reason why became crystal clear when I stopped and thought about what actually happened.  You see, when the bungee cord was stopping most parts of our bodies, gravity had full control of that unattached leg.  I’ll bet if we had the use of a video camera we would have been able to witness ourselves doing the “splits” in dramatic fashion.  I would imagine that while my one leg was securely fastened to the bungee cord, my other foot could have been found somewhere above my head (only since I was upside-down, it was actually below my head) and my knee cap was firmly connected to my sternum.

Would I do it again?  Sure, if I could go back to being young and stupid.  Now?  I might consider the two leg connection.  And I would hold my nose.

Buy my bouncy book.