Bottom Line

I’m a bottom line guy. I say that because it is one of my favorite expressions. I like to cut to the chase and get to the core of the issue. I like saying it so much that I can use that expression several times in a five minute conversation, which makes you wonder what really is the bottom line. It’s like digging deeper and deeper until you think you finally hit China. My luck, there would be a Chinese man standing upside down holding a shovel with a dumbstruck look on his face saying something in a sing-song like fashion along with the word “America”.

I use the “bottom line” tactic in a negotiating stance. The last time I bought a brand new car was nine years ago which makes me due for another one in a few more years, right? At the time, I went to the dealership loaded with ammunition convinced I wasn’t going to be taken for a sucker. After all, I had done all the necessary research on the Internet and had a good feel for what the exact car I was interested in should cost. Or at least I thought I did.

Like the coach who prepares his own team for a basketball playoff game by figuring which players are going to start on the opposition, I was mentally ready to shake hands with a tall fellow with greased back hair and a somewhat loud sport coat and a patronizing attitude. But, no! Instead, a short kid- okay he was maybe 25, but that’s a kid to me- approaches and shakes my hand and before you know it goes into a sob story about how he is in the military reserve and is waiting for his notice to be sent to Iraq.

“Bottom line- how much is this baby going to cost when you add in all the extras?” I asked “Uh, there are not extras. That’s the price”, he replied. “You wanna take it for a spin?”
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Compromises

Life is a series of compromises. As a kid, you learn essential things at your own pace such as toilet training, walking, talking and eating and then you go to school and they tell you- like it or not- that you will learn what everyone else learns in the same time period and at the same mental capacity.

Of course, this is not fair to the kid who excels in a specific area and is held back because the teacher cannot deal with thirty individuals at each their own pace. In second grade, we had a “Think and Do” book which was a workbook full of arithmetic questions and challenges. I found the examples too easy to do and finished them very quickly much to the shock of the teacher. So, she had me go around the room and help all the slowpokes.

The same thing happened twenty years later when I took a course in computer flow charting. Another student and myself- both of us were not coincidentally about ten years older than the other students- had figured out the logic flow for just about the entire workbook we were using. The workbook was written by the instructor herself who admitted that there were some factual errors. She said if anyone could find them, she would be grateful. Naturally, yours truly found them all. She had me help her teach the logically challenged ones in the class and took over for her one week while she was having a hysterectomy. No kidding!
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Crawling Under a Rock

My “crawling under a rock” moment happened yesterday at a big supermarket chain store- you know, the type big enough to have self-checkout machines.

It started with a typical walk through the aisles making note of items on sale. I’d compare them in my head to what the normal price was as well as what it typically sold for at competing stores. I thought I was done picking up all the things I both needed and wanted. But, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. Like the proverbial pregnant woman, I had a yen for pickles, even though last I looked I was of the male persuasion and nowhere close to needing maternity clothes.

It became too convenient as the aisle I traipsed through contained condiments such as peanut butter, jelly, mustard, honey and, yeah- pickles. There they were- several different brands. My eye (the good one) immediately caught sight of one on sale at 2 for $5.00, which was a real bargain. Normal price would have been anywhere between $3.29 to $3.49. I grabbed a jar even though it was glass, knowing well my propensity to not grasp things so well anymore in my right hand. That’s what that damn carpal tunnel does to you. From my wrist to the tip of my fingers, it is a constant feeling of needle pins, the same sensation when you bump your elbow funny bone. Not only the out-of-body sensation, but there is a loss of sensitivity to touch.
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Show Me The Money

It used to be illegal to show real money on television. Maybe it still is and they just overlook it. The people in Washington were afraid that counterfeiters would freeze frame pictures of the money and somehow figure out how to duplicate it using a rudimentary form of digital reproduction. Game shows handed out fake currency to winners and then the lucky contestants picked up the real cash afterward while signing a Federal Tax form. Contestants were warned by the production assistants before the show to act natural and excited about holding fake twenty dollar bills in their hands while on camera or go home with booby prizes or even nothing.

I don’t know if I would have been a willing enough contestant to act ecstatic over play money. You see, just like in the movie from a few years ago, the expression “Show Me The Money” has been my battle cry. It became ingrained after dealing early on in my self-employment career with stinkers who loved to kite checks. A few times I had to re-present a check to my bank in order to cash it while paying the NSF fee. Yeah, try to collect that back from the con artist, too. I’ve turned down projects where a prospect wanted me to do the work first and if they liked it, they would then pay me even more than I asked for. Yeah, sure.
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Maxwell Street

You remember Maxwell Street, right? That special outdoor bazaar was located in the near west area just outside the Chicago Loop. I went to visit my buddy Stanley- you know, the one who got arrested years ago by Chicago cops? Yeah, that guy. I needed a bicycle part and that’s what he now sells. I asked how was business going and he said okay but that he had to work harder than ever and wondered if it was worth it.

So, I got about to asking him what was the best job he ever had. “that’s easy”, he replied, “Maxwell Street.” I asked him if he had more time to elaborate and he said, “why not?”
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