Four checks in a Row: Why Ringing the Register Counts

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A week shy of ten months from my last check in retail– a situation friends tell me is worse than before I Ieft– that first smallish-but-accepted-at-the-bank one with my name on it accomplished more than just stopping the bleeding. Coming the day of our Men’s Club annual banquet, it allowed telling EVERYONE I was finally done with that streak of zeroes. Never underestimate how important telling friends-supporters that things have improved is as Reason #1: Especially compared to whining, we ALL like to hear the pressure is off anybody.

If you give the brother you live with a Newcastle Ale because four paydays seems a decent enough indicator of ‘Success’ to celebrate–and still fits with overall economics– its also worth giving a karmic nod to being on the Hopeful Side again. Those who had kids school tuition, a mortgage, or even car payments (which weren’t part of my calculus); who benefited from programs regarding unemployment– North Carolina went from 26 to 14 weeks of benefits in the one week I hesitated before registering; had a swipe card for food programs, or paid rent at cash advance rates, take a short bow for surviving Real Economics 2015.

In ‘Outlaw Josie Wales‘, Clint Eastwood tells Sandra Locke that at some point in the coming battle, “when you don’t think you’re going to make it, you gotta get mad dog mean,” and that translates to staying above water most of the Great Recession 2007-14 with a BPBPJ (Bill Paying, Benefit Providing Job), then looking credit card debt in the eye from September to March. On the bottom line, this whole unlikable recession didn’t get past #4 on the Worst of Times Ranking– Schenectady ’84 and Charlotte ’03, that was real Despair. Hell, I still had $6,800 left on my secondary card; that option, at any rate, wasn’t available before.

Compared to pursuit of return to executive assistant role after that retail stint, this new situation is esoteric– reselling of woodworking machines– and definitely sales. The experience of moving between databases to research/find what customers call in about is getting easier; in some ways its like real estate, because whatever I list gets me a piece of eventual profit, in others its very much a training rate of pay. Last week I listed 16 machines; yesterday I input and tagged pictures to seven in about 2 1/2 hours. That’s administrative, but its a production job, and I’m in a position where competence with transmitting needs-information will mean I get my share of whatever happens with I was actually second guy in the door when Kurt (boss) started back in 2006; I’ve been involved with him on two other projects over the years, and hey, we’ve played basketball for like 16 of my 20 years (Memorial Day) here in Charlotte. That trust level, *knowing* he generates cash, that’s as good a reason to work with somebody as any nowadays.

I was almost as thrilled with three checks earned during same stretch as a reading tutor with WyzAnt— that my students grandma told me she’d gotten a 100% on vocabulary test after two sessions counts as some psychic income– but deciding, without any hedges, that you’ll have a quantity of $$ goes beyond just thinking about it; doing what needs doing to HAVE cash demands acknowledging it when Plans become Truth.

$87 being auto-paid to some multi-billion dollar company that sweated you with late fees during dry times is nowhere near as satisfying as having CASH money in your pocket when the check arrives for a wine, tasty snacks, and Oreo cheesecake weekend dates on Lake Norman. Oh yeah, weekends are *much* better after ringing the register.

That’s elementally understood, right? It can’t just be a guy thing.

Glenn Shorkey

‘Unbelievable’ a Less Useful Term Now

I had planned on writing about the social imprinting a small black child has received when I watched him walk with one hand holding onto his mother and the other unnecessarily grasping the top of his small gray sweatpants. Trying to remember when walking around with one’s pants belted below butts/around their thighs became mandatory for so many isn’t a memory I’ll spend time trying to research, but why it has such staying power is a mystery. Compared to say, 7-9 million previously uninsured people choosing health coverage through the ACA in one year as a positive change, I’m befuddled.

The negatives of that imprinting couldn’t stand up to seeing ANOTHER white police officer– Michael Thomas Slager of Charleston, SC to be precise–putting *8 BULLETS* in the back of a black man who ran away after he’d been stopped for a minor traffic violation. The officer failing to even TRY running after him, just drawing and blazing away, is a minor footnote of depraved behavior. That the murder, which is the charge Slager now faces, was captured in toto by someone’s ever-present cell phone, including the officer handcuffing the corpse and dropping his taser beside the body (he claimed the man took it), is why the word ‘unbelievable’ is no longer effective in describing such real life situations.

‘The X-Files’ tag was “We are not alone,” and brother, you can count on that when it comes to pulling something like that shooting; SOMEBODY has a cell phone picture, and even if it didn’t help that poor SOB in New York when a cop choked him to death, I bet it has Slager’s union appointed lawyer saying OMG, OMG, OMG steadily.

I thought similar footage of **5** officers shooting a NAKED man in LA would’ve been an absolute low– couldn’t that many guys somehow control an unarmed, naked man WITHOUT gunning him down?– but it’s difficult to call those two events a tie. Unbelievable? Sorry to say, its actually NOT something we can see and find a corner or our minds that can’t comprehend it at this point. I’m watching for a verdict on this closely, because anything beside a 2-day deliberation before a guilty verdict would be, uhhh, cause for extreme concern? Nothing is probably going to be a while though– the police chief ‘handling’ the Tamir Rice (very young kid with pellet gun) shooting was on news last night, says STILL have “witnesses and forensic evidence to work on…”


I’m going to give Duke’s ‘Forgotten Freshman’ Grayson Allen a huge and gratuitous attaboy! for making the Dookies NCAA champs. While Okafor, the studly Winslow Justise, and Tyus Jones (19 second half points and Most Outstanding Player, he probably deserves some props, too) were starters, Grayson’s 16 points led them from nine points down and dead in the water to OMG! 68-63 victory. I admit to being a Sam Dekker (Wisconsin) fan during the tournament, but when a highly regarded recruit like Allen gets the chance and truly produces, THAT is why college ball is different from pros.

On a similar note, eight of Calipari’s ‘one and done’ (check that, some were ‘two and skidoo ‘cuz i gave up checks for nuthin’) recruits at Kentucky immediately opted for the NBA draft, along with Duke’s Okafor and Tyus. Okafor is a back-to-basket center, but I think many others will learn how unexceptional they are when confronted by experienced pros over an 82-game season. That’s still a part of things I’m thinking sends a bad message.

Just like a pre-kindergarten child holding up his sweatpants.

Glenn Shorkey

Coldest February Since 1820, Not Quite as Long Unemployed

On an ugly, rainy Sunday in Charlotte, I guess I should be glad I’m not still in upstate NY. Was up there five days this past week, and Friday on flight back, sis-in-law texted me it was coldest February since 1820, second coldest month since 1970. I recall one of those days in 1970 as minus-60 with wind chill as I delivered my paper route– promised God I’d *never* say it was too hot if I made it home without something falling off.

For the record, when I moved to Florida in June,1981 and my Aunt Jo said (re: 94 and like 80pct. humidity), “Oh my, darlin’, you must be dyin’ in this!” I said only, “Yeah, its pretty warm.”

Not planning on riding my bike today for sure, but will have to call Mom and wish her happy 81st birthday. Trip to NY was ending to couple days clearing out miscellaneous crap from her place in Tampa, which is getting very close to sold, and dropping non-furniture stuff here in Charlotte as part of 3-day drive north with brother Dave. Threw a bunch of snowballs at side of a building in VA rest stop, and discovered that along with that shaky knee spelling the end of my jump shot, not having regular throwing sessions in 20 years has turned me into a chicken arm. Ahhh, so much to talk about at 40th reunion this Fall…!

About this ‘net neutral’ FCC deal– does that mean Coach Cowher will have to stop LYING about internet speed with TWC? I know its got to be in smaaaalllll print at bottom of screen, but if you’ve ever timed out of applications because that $14.99 level is criminally slow, and you didn’t think paying 2x as much for high-high speed would make THAT much of a difference, I’d love to see how not having different levels would work out. Based on how phone service rates have become so competitive, I’m believing they won’t be able to charge that robber baron rate for the good speed stuff, or just provide the crappy speed for that ‘no, thats regular rate, not a special deal we’ll change in three months’ level I ground my molars about.

Went to a Davidson basketball game last night, and while they’ll almost certainly make it to the NCAAs in a couple weeks, the fact a 6’10” semi-thick center for George Washington ate their lunch on offense and made them almost totally reliant on jump shots for scoring by altering shots in the paint seems to signal uh-oh! time for the Wildcats. Add some 6’4″ defenders every mid-major program has for pressure and ‘nice bunch of shooters’ become first round victims.


I received another free resume review, and while it might come across as ego resistance, I am still kind of PO’d when the analysis points to ‘only having done things’ vs. achievement relative to resume pointed towards administrative/EA positions.

I copied and sent a totally random and *lengthy* position description back to reviewer, because the an EAs job core has *always* been about PRODUCTION, not about raising sales by 22%, bench-pressing 825 lbs., or even publishing a 73,000 word book, only one of which I’ve accomplished. If recruiters actually READ resumes– and yes, I know they get plenty every day– even a *little* more carefully, and didn’t refuse to have anyone come for an interview unless they were 110% of what client put in description (WHAT software program don’t I have after spending Great Recession in retail?), unemployment as an E-6 wouldn’t be my most pressing problem.

Glenn S.

Cheating Probably Won’t Change the Memory

Having just read a column by local Charlotte Observer writer Scott Fowler (‘Misguided adults taint purity of a kids game’), I agree with overall premise about adults rule bending-cheating to win. To say I didn’t cheat, maybe because one season as coach of a womens club hockey team playing inter-collegiate others never produced an opportunity, is legitimate though. We won one game, crushing Ithaca College at Cornell’s Lynah Arena 8-2, then folded the team a couple weeks later because we didn’t have a goalie, injured in a mens hockey class trying to stay sharp.

It’s still a memory that brings a thrill, mostly because my brother brought my folks, aunt, uncle, and cousin– who’d come to Cornell to see his jayvee basketball game– to see my 10 ragamuffins (4 different jersey types, including stinky, wet, COLD jerseys I borrowed from the mens team and tossed into a bag Friday afternoon) tear up those exactly uniformed and outfitted IC players; several of my players didn’t have facemasks on the intramural helmets we borrowed. When the underdog comes through in such a defiant manner, that’s truly the best, and my feet barely touched the ice when I went over to shake the other coachs hand and offer a “good game.”

That was 1979, and I’ve never forgetten one of our girls noticing an IC player being interviewed post-game and saying, “Hey, we kicked the crap out of them, how come nobody’s interviewing us?”

At one point Fowler notes, “and now its all come crashing down,” but I really doubt that. For exactly the same reason UKentucky’s (26-0 so far) latest batch of one-and-done hoopsters won’t clarify any facet of (possible championship) season, PLAYERS PLAY. For them it *is* ‘our guys vs. your guys’, because whether a talented teammate is from Suburbia or Alaska, they’re wearing the same uniform, and thats most of what counts. Now, that 14 yr. old pitcher, a 6′ tall lefty with a 100mph fastball and fixed birth certificate, anybody who saw him KNEW he didn’t belong.

About coaching in that US championship game though, I’ll always remember two examples of The Good Stuff youth coaches are about. The Chicago pitcher gave up 3 runs early, and it was obviously because he was using breaking balls instead of his fastball– the other team was death on fastballs, although most high end LLers can hit heat well. Once his coach recognized he couldnt rely on breaking balls– again, good hitters will wait on something if they know you *aren’t* bringing the heat– and let him work, the game worked out better.

The crucial point in championship came in the 5th, when, leading by two, the Chicago pitcher gave up a *second* 3-run dinger to same kid who homered early. He was obviously devasted; you get to that point against a good team, you feel you let your guys down. Coach comes out, and at end of conference, he looks kid in the eye, says, “We’ve got two more at bats to get the runs and win this. Right now we need you to get out of the inning,” slaps him on a shoulder, and after a shaky next batter, he closes the inning out.

Coaching Situation #2: Other teams (I think from Arizona) pitcher hits the 85 pitch limit, and while the coachs son hadn’t been able to start because of a ‘tight shoulder’, coach brings him in to try and finish the game. After two batters, and with color commentators Nomar Garscioparra and Barry Larkin both saying the kid obviously doesn’t have the stuff that made him almost unhittable in his last game, the coach-Dad takes his son out and puts him at 2nd base. Larkin immediately mentions that lefties almost/NEVER play second, the inability to turn the double play being a primary reason. Chicago hits a ball to him right off the bat, he boots it– the teams first error in a MONTH of all star play– and Chicago eventually winds up the champs, because all star hitters can *always* powder the other guys #3-4-5 pitchers.

The lefty, who both commentators said was an exceptionally gifted hitter, was devastated at the error that cost his team the championship. Another (inspired) Chicago pitcher had to come in and get the final outs, and the difference between those pieces of coaching, and especially those two young players, is ALL they are ever going to think about.

Cheating? Sorry to hear about it, and yeah, adults are usually the culprits. Feeling sorry for the kids though, not so much. You’d NEVER be able to take away the actual playing, the joy of a crowd cheering you when you got home, a trip to the White House. I don’t recall how long ago Little League changed the size of districts because the teams from Taiwan were dominating by pulling talent from huge pools in a baseball crazy nation. That 14 yr. old mowing kids down also caused an extra layer of scrutiny for every organization’s eligibilty documentation.

But feeling sorry for the Chicago kids? No. Players played, and the winning-losing was on the field. Thats all I would ask for.

Glenn Shorkey

Smooth Transition on Super Sunday-Last Stuff Moved, Great Football

Yesterday was Groundhog Day, plus cousin Frank’s b-day, and the second anniversary of my Dad’s burial down in Tampa, FL. Nothing dramatic about the day this time around, and I’ll always maintain his death went about as smoothly as anyone could conceive. I went directly to the hospital after driving in on Monday afternoon from Charlotte, got to be of service with sips of water till after eleven. He died the next afternoon, and I’d known since Mom told the doc there weren’t going to be any extra-ordinary measures, this was going to be the end. My three brothers flights all came in at 6:00, and everyone appreciated a steady week of family to take the edge off. I got the talk at graveside done pretty well, glad I’d written/printed it as a giveaway at time of the happiest event in their lives, their 50th in 2005.

The line Frank used that day was perfect: “Uncle Walt kept all those extra pieces of wood because he thought some project might need it. When you’re thinking like that, you’re not worrying about dying.” Dad died two days after his youngest brother, Donald, died in the same hospital, also of congestive heart.

I always mention that he got the last joke I made, about his meatloaf-mac ‘n cheese-green beans plate needing tabasco. Dad rolled his eyes, because he’d said for years I would put it on corn flakes.

It’s certainly been examined and opined about since the second of decision, but “Twice in Beast Mode” wasn’t ABSOLUTELY the BEST call that should’ve been made? Bro’s chili was his best effort ever. The word most asked was ‘cemented’ regarding Brady, and that is a stone-cold fact when discussing his place in the QB hiearchy. Hiya, Joe!

Simple, Cheap, Tasty ‘Shorkey Soul Food’ for Singles

Today was almost a deluxe edition, with an entire Andouile sausage (vs. hamburger) cut up, and a Medium onion, diced. The stars of dinner are snap peas and bean sprouts, and this goes over 2 pks. ramen noodles beautifully (most selections are done with rice as default).

I’ve used olive oil to sautee the sausage and beans– in my humble opinion, thick fresh beans show you care in this dish, especially since nobody leaves the pointy ends on, right? Some of my SSF variations include garlic; I feel the andouile sausage gives all the flavor necessary here, but I make a generic-thorough couple revolutions with hand ground pepper.

Couple extra items experimented with: small jar of pimentos– good! Slivers of red were noticeable and the second half use of .85 condiment. Added a large handful of frozen-chopped spinach– very good effect. You know there’s never anything wrong with an extra leafy green, and it clings to stuff nicely, a constant reminder something good is definitely in this.

Lastly, an unknown amount of jalapeno slices from the jar, but the *juice* is what turned this into something distinctive. Yes, some spiciness from sausage and jalapeno, no problem throwing anything you want in as ‘end of the saving it’ fodder. Hey, its over ramen noodles…!

Glenn Shorkey

How I Became a Better Candidate This Week

It’s been somewhat– make that *definitely*– frustrating to be a week from turning 58, and seven months into search for employment, without a lot to show for it. ‘The Great Recession’ might officially have been over a while ago, but you wouldn’t be able to convince my bank account of that.

There’s an old adage about ‘with age comes wisdom’, and while I’ve locked in several important facts of Life years ago– never guess a woman’s age; don’t drink and drive; forget playing one more game of basketball after a shaky left knee has signaled ‘time to go’– the factors about becoming a better candidate for career Next’s shouldn’t have been major revelations.

The Reality is, I ABSOLUTELY knew this stuff, and though I’m not generally a List Guy, three specific ‘oh, rights!’ that support the premise have come through crystal clear.

1) However its phrased, look ‘I could never do that’ in the eye and accomplish one small step towards a goal anyway.

2) Stay in touch with those who really count in your search (including ‘cheerleaders’)

3) SSDD (same stuff/different day) won’t get what you desire, even assuming you know what that is

On the first point, I’ll give a shout out to Jeff Haden; I read two pieces of his thought-provoking philosophy on Monday, and I’m going to make it a habit to continue feeding my mind similarly going forward.

The most obvious change I made was putting my book, ‘CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent’ into a book contest (please check link at the end), and then posting that fact in two places, as ‘currently happening’ on LinkedIn profile and in ‘LinkEds and Writers’. The question I had to ask myself was, why DIDN’T I think I could do those simple and obvious things to publicize something I’d put so much effort into achieving? Even if I’m not chosen for a share of Bookbzz’s $$ in first contest, $25 on the credit card *should* get me some level of reviews, and thats kind of important in a bigger picture. The ‘C’ in CDTalent Enterprises stands for Confidence, so you have to believe in yourself/the product at least that much.

I sent a short note to the artist who’s supposed to be working with me on a children’s read-along book for the South Carolina Hugh O’Brian Youth organization. Without his production, the two years-plus of material I’ve written is left in limbo. Our last meeting was late August and I hadn’t seen a single thing more from him; I needed to push things, get concrete results. My first boss out of college told me (as a ‘road guy’/regional rep for TIME, Inc.) that nobody would throw People magazine out of their stores if I pushed for getting it displayed at the register; what did I have to lose if the artist didn’t produce after I asked him to come through with what was needed/expected?

Staying in touch, especially with recruiters and references, definitely counts. To show how serious I was about entering home solar power industry in the sales area with a major energy company, I found a relevant article about real estate industry financially recognizing solar on house as an asset, and e-mailed it with a short note to person I’d done a phone interview with. Then I cc’d several references, including Charlotte Works counselor, to let them know what I was considering, sales being a very different idea from administrative areas that have been my focus.

I talked to a recruiter from a temp agency about re-taking some tests, because I know my home equipment contributed to lower than expected scores, and the possibility of getting short term gigs HAS to go up when you’re perceived as being more capable, right? Why not take the obvious step?

As for SSDD, doing same things and expecting different results is supposedly the definition of insanity, and I’m a writer, not crazy. Okay, I’ll always consider myself a writer no matter what I do for a regular paycheck, and blogging 3x/week like this (and LinkedIn contributions) was a New Years resolution; I also fixed old information on three job boards, so I’m taking righteous small steps in that direction.

I’m also figuring out how to do links:

Close Enough on ‘Madam Secretary’, 3.6MM French March, Rowling v. Murdoch

Having already sent out two more resumes with cover letters this morning and knocked off final third of a nursed-through-the-weekend terrific cigar brother Steve gifted me with for Christmas, it seems legitimate to put the end of a drippy, contemplative Monday afternoon in Charlotte towards honoring a New Years vow to blog 3x a week.

Last night was the first time watching ‘Madam Secretary’, and kudos to the writers who nailed Tia Leone’s struggle about going to the funeral of a slain prep school classmate, a Bahranian prince she’d convinced, in a 1-1 post-private dinner discussion, to honor certain beliefs he’d espoused years before. Viewers who didn’t see he’d be killed by *someone* who felt 180 degrees differently about what he said back in his own country must be blind to what would happen, especially given recent events in the real world and TV drama.

Her bind was obvious: Having been told that, even as the representative of the United States government, she would have to view the funeral from behind a screen with the other women, how could she acquiece, knowing it would undoubtedly be viewed as accepting another cultures regard for women (slavery was a major sub-topic to show) as less worthy than any other man’s ability to pay their respects?

I appreciated her solution, flying all night to speak privately with the greiving King vs. not paying final respects to a cherished friend at all, or raising a major furor by trying to insist on bulldozing the custom. One small detail: Even if the King agrees to meet with his dead son’s friend just before the event, and she wears a respectful head scarf, you don’t show up wearing makeup and pants.
3.6 million Frenchmen march over the slaughter of Charlie Hepdo cartoonists by Muslim extremists? Sacre bleu! Who knew they cared that much about anything? That the event caused such an over-whelming response, can we somehow start to think that killing of ‘others’– with the twisted notion it will cause events one group or another finds disrespectful to totally cease– will be repudiated by the masses that radicals pretend they represent? There didn’t seem to be any similar reaction to Chechens slaughtering 400 children in a raid on Russia what seems like soooo long ago, nor the 140+ killed at a school for the children of Pakistani military more recently.

I live in Charlotte, NC– ‘The Buckle on the Bible Belt’ as many proclaim it— and I am grateful EVERY DAY that I don’t have to worry about someone from one (of a couple thousand) churches deciding to strap on an explosive device and kill believing-in-a-somewhat-different-way worshippers while shouting ‘God is Great!’

The animals that call themselves Boko Haram, taking DAYS to destroy multiple villages and systematically kill over 2,000 is beyond comprehension; don’t even try to tell me there was a reason or God involved with that.

Rowling’s succinct tweet about Murdoch’s comment re: Islamic extremism and the worlds Muslim population being represented by violent action, didn’t actually convince me of anything being totally wrong with what Murdoch foolishly tried to get out in 140 characters. I question his methodology more than any essential fact— which has been noted above and on previous occasions– that seeing the words ‘Muslim extremists’ in front of so many brutally negative events doesn’t bring up the idea “they aren’t representative of the Muslim religion.”

Murdoch owns an un-Godly (?) number of media outlets around the world; screw a 140 character tweet! Put a thoughtful, double-truck message in the middle of all those newspapers about how that violence scares people, the distrust that living next door to someone who might walk into your grocery store tomorrow and kill you and a dozen friends engenders! Have your FOX network people throw 30 seconds of your minimally expressed thoughts out for consumption on a massive scale, or are you afraid ‘they’ will punish you?

On a much lesser topic, how could Dez Bryant’s catch in game vs. Green Bay be overturned? I’ve heard the ‘control-going to the ground’ explanation of the rule, but he was CLEARLY controlling the ball in left hand and took two strides after the catch before it bounced off the ground on impact. I watch a lot of TV football, scream regularly about ‘defenseless’ 6’5″, 260 lb. behemoths getting whacked at the instant they make a catch because they shouldn’t be hit when a QB squeezes a throw into the foot of space between defenders. Not a catch? Sorry Cowboys, you got stiffed.
As for Clooney’s comments, including how glad he was to be Amal’s husband after accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, it was one more large brick in the huge personal Manhood he represents. He got married when HE was ready, to a beautiful, smart, All That Woman, and while humble about “whatever alchemy,” he wasn’t apologizing for it taking 53 years to decide.

I respectfully submit three moments that cement my own regard for him: Above all, that he took his DAD into Darfur to “make it less possible for the world to ignore that situation,” knowing full well if the bad guys somehow showed up, they wouldn’t think twice about shooting everyone in that convoy, movie star or not. Second, his grip on fame while defending his aunt (Rosemary Clooney), with comment that “she didn’t suddenly lose all her talent,” when parts that involved her signature singing vanished, pretty much from one year to the next.

Lastly, and I smile at the super cool guy-ness of it, was after Danny Devito went on ‘The View’, still pretty well lit after a night out with Clooney doing shots of Lemongello. Told that Devito had talked about their night out, George gave that killer grin and one-lined it: “Yeah? So how did he do?”

Glenn Shorkey