Monday, October 30, 2006

A Jobian Tale Part 3

The Long Dark Tea-Time of The Soul...or...How Far Down Will I Go?

Jake sat at his desk, his Bible open, his head bowed, his eyes closed. His mind? Wandering. Replaying the day he resigned in disgrace over and over and over and over again. Trying to find where it was; when it was, he went wrong. He was numb as he saw again and again his failings as a man, husband, father, believer, teacher. Every hat he put on he saw how utterly dismal he was in it.

The hole is deeper than he'd ever thought. He just kept going down and down. Maybe a trip would help? It didn't. He just grew angry and resentful. He pulled away from his wife and kids. He apologized for his inconsistencies. His failings. He reassured them it wasn't their fault. "Nobody's fault but mine" he'd say to him self.

Then the self-loathing began. How could he be one of the elect if he was such a loser? How could he be any kind of role model to his children if he couldn't do anything right? He needed help.

Enter the counselor/psychiatrist/shrink. "Are you depressed?" he asks. "Yes" is the reply. "Let me tell you about the ABC's of depression. A = action. C = consequences. B is what you believe about A and C. If you believe you're bad then you are depressed. If you believe that you can change the A's to get different C's then you won't be depressed. It's a matter of perception. If you say you are one of His then you should also believe that He doesn't abandon His children in their time of need."

Never have I seen the righteous forsaken,
Never have I seen them abandoned in the flood land.
Never have I seen the children out beggin',
Never have I seen them slip through your hands" - Steve Taylor

And yet the darkness presses in, presses down, presses harder. The anger begins to boil. The new job's a hassle and the wife wants some show of kindness and the kids need a dad who's there and the boss is calling again and the equipment doesn't work right and the bills keep piling up and...

What's that line? "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side." Maybe Yoda knew something? Nights he lays in bed, fearing himself, fearing what he has been, what he may become. Getting angry at the circumstances. Angry at God. Angry at the kids. Angry at the wife. Angry at the boss. Angry at the dogs.

"But do I hate?" he asks himself. "Hate is such a strong I really hate? Do I really want to hate?"

A moment of reflection then.

"No. I can't and won't and don't want to. It repulses me on so many levels."

Jake sees the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. It flickers and goes out but always comes back. He jokingly says it's the light of an on-coming train ready to run ramrod over his life again but something tells him this light is different. And yet, to Jake, it seems so far off. It never gets bigger, just more consistent. As if the light can't decide whether to grow larger or simply wink out of existence. Part of Jake wishes the light would disappear and take him with it. Thoughts of suicide push in and Jake, who had one time entertained them down to writing out the note and holding the gun in his hand, now pushes those thoughts aside with a mix of emotions. Shame. Horror. But mostly shame.

Sometimes Jake wishes the light would grow so large as to overwhelm him. Enfold him. Blot out all else and envelope him in it's warmth.

But the light shines small and steady. Not growing. Not shrinking. Just...there.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I'm Officially An Old Man...

...I have to wear black socks to work!!

I'm taking a break from the Jobian Tale. Still too close to the source to finish it right now even though I've played the whole story out in my head as I fall asleep!

Speaking of falling asleep...that's usually when I write my best stuff. I've preached sermons, written bestseller, composed arguments and wooed women! (Okay...I wooed my wife!)

The other night it was Unions. Labor Unions that ran through my mind. How I view them as a necessary evil. There are companies whose sole interest is the bottom line they don't care about their employees. Especially in very large companies. Or large companies who grew exponentially and many of the things that employees should get they aren't. Take NetJets for example.

(The following is my opinion. It is based on my observations and thoughts. I have not done extensive research into the issue nor do I want to. I come from a fairly biased position in that I am no fan of Labor Unions. I think, for the most part, they are not needed now and in some instances, can be considered dangerous to our economy.)

Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet's company, owns NetJets/Executive Jets. Their pilots were represented by a certain Teamsters Local that wasn't doing them any good. They weren't servicing the membership. The pilots got together, left that local, joined another then went to the company and requested some changes. As the Fractional Flight Department segment of the aviation industry is still fairly new, there are and have been, many growing pains. The Union, in this instance, served the membership correctly, negotiated in good faith with the company, and got the pilots the things they needed to make their jobs safer and make the pilots more productive. All in was fairly painful. Yes, there were the typical Union-ites who screamed "STRIKE" but there were in the minority to my knowledge. NetJet pilots and their Union have set a new bar for the Fractional Industry. One that I hope isn't pushed higher and higher every three years.

Which is what some Unions do. Take the UAW or Teamsters. Both of those Unions often came out demanding the moon of employers, threatening to walk causing the employer to lose money which they will frantically try to avoid. In the early to mid 70's, the Japanese took their concept of war and applied it to economics. The Japanese employee is devoted to his company, maybe a little to radically for my tastes but what it did was create and economic giant in the automotive and electronic industries. They basically attacked America via the economy making low-cost, cheap cars, radios, TV's, etc. Through the years, they developed, refined and improved on these products, borrowing heavily from American Know-How and German ingenuity. Car makers, electronics companies and the like resented the challenge and dug in their heels. While gas prices soared, Japanese cars were gas-sipping econo-boxes while Detroit continued to put out large, gas-guzzling V8's. (I love Big Block V8's but then again, my first car was a 1966 Ford Mustang with a 289 with a 4bbl carb and dual exhaust, four on the floor and racing slicks!) When the US finally decided to challenge the Japanese it was almost a joke. Small American cars weren't half as fuel efficient as the Japanese ones were. And yet in the meantime, as fewer American cars were being bought, fewer people were needed at the plants making it harder for workers to make ends meet so therefore the Union's decide that all the workers need a raise...and a big one at that. And more company paid bennies.

Instead of working with the company to make a better car, a streamlined production plant and getting more bang for the buck, the Union's basically drove several companies to near bankruptcy and some right into receivership.

The airline industry witnessed the near destruction of United, Delta, Continental and the demise/rebirth/quasi-demise again of the once mighty Pan-Am. Why? Airline pilots were making 150-200 thousand dollars a year, working 4 days a week, sitting on their butts, pushing buttons and drinking coffee. Not to say that they shouldn't be rewarded for the years they put in flying crappy airplanes through crappy weather but there has to be a limit to pay for a job that anyone can get without having any higher education. Aviation is probably the only industry where one can have only a high school diploma and make over 100K a year. It's called a profession because of the specialized training but the standing joke amongst aviators is that we can teach monkeys to do the same job! While not true in reality, we realize we have become well-paid button pushers!

And there are times when the Union and it's members work with the company to help the bottom line and keep jobs and when the company turns around, the company conveniently forgets the people who sacrificed to help. Bombardier is in this position. As my old boss used to tell us, "If the company makes money, you make money. If the company doesn't make money, you don't make money." How simple is that?

Bottom line is greed. Greedy company owners. Greedy Union officials. Greedy employees. All of them hear those three little words, "I Deserve More".

So where is your loyalty I ask? My Dad taught me my loyalty in my job lay with the man who signed my paycheck for he held the key to my employment future. I've learned the hard way not to bite the hand that feeds. I owe a debt to my employer for hiring me and paying me a decent wage. Not a fantastic, out-of-this-world wage. But a decent wage. A wage that allows me to make my bills, set something aside, take a vacation once in a while, helps me care for my family. In return, I do my best for my employer. I need to be honest, forthright and upstanding in my field. I need to, as my old boss said when he wrote the company policy, "Do what is in the best interest of the company." One sentence. It sums it all up. Doing what's in the best interest of the company benefits me and my fellow co-workers. When I do what's best for me, I punish others.

Just my 2 cents on Unions, workers, companies and such. Don't expect you to agree as this issue is just as loaded as politics and religion.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Another Second Chance, Again - Part 2

(Where we inject a little "Screwtape" into the mix...)

Larry was walking by the local coffee shop when he saw his friend Jacob sitting in the corner booth, his head in his hands. His friend looked awful. He hurried into the coffee shop and sat down opposite his friend.

"Jake? What's up man?"

Jake looked up, his eyes red, his face drawn, his hair looked like it had been run through by his hands a hundred times.

"Hey Larry. Want some coffee?" Jake said.

Larry looked close at his friend. "Dude, you look horrible. What happened?"

"I happened Larry. I happened all over my job."

It took a few minutes of probing but Larry got the whole story. Jake had been called on the carpet for violating a minor company policy but one the District Supervisor was now using to bury Jake. Now the company had him on paid administrative leave pending a further investigation.

"I guess I got caught up in the whole making money, doing what needed to be done for the company that I rationalized away several instances when I bent the rules. I honestly thought I'd be doing the company a favor by my actions; afterall, I never charged them for the overtime I just made my time sheets look good" Jake said with a sigh.

Larry sat quietly across from his friend. Jake continued.

"I was so jazzed when I got this job. Good pay. Good bennies. I loved the work I was doing. God sent this job at just the right time and looking back, I pissed it all away."

Larry nodded silently, letting his friend talk. He'd seen the change in behaviour in his friend over the last five years but never felt comfortable saying anything. After all, Jake seemed to have more knowledge of Christianity than he did but looking back, Larry could see Jake was just more vocal about his opinions.

"I got wrapped up in all the praise people were giving me about how good I was, how blessed I was in this job." Jake shook his head and looked down into his coffee cup. "I got a swelled head and pushed God right out."

Larry said, "Hey, it happens to the best of us at times."

Jake shook his head and said, "It happens to me alot. I can't blame it on the ADD. I can't blame it on my parents. I'm the one who is to blame. You see, I believed that once I became a Christian, God would take away all the bad stuff I was doing, you know, a 'new creation'. Instead, I find I'm having to battle just to make it through the day. My wants and desires aren't in line with His. The Bible becomes a blur of words I've read before. My prayers bounce off the ceiling and God is no where in sight when I cry out." Jake was starting to get angry. "I mean, come on! I read the Psalms. David cries out and is rescued. I read Paul, things work out for the good for him, not me! Jesus says to come and He'll give you rest but I'm still in turmoil!"

Jake's voice had risen and Larry looked nervously around the coffee shop. Surprisingly, no one noticed.

"I think you need to take some time and get alone with God..." Larry started.

"I've been alone with God and all I get is the same, guilt and depression!" Jake snapped. "I think you should probably go Larry, before I say something stupid and spoil our friendship."

Larry didn't know what to do and slowly rose from the table. "Dude, I'll pray for you. This isn't you. You know who's you are. You've just forgotten." With that, Larry walked out.

"Perfect!" Lucifer said as he read the report. "What else you got?"

Malatestes, Demon Third Class sneered and said, "That whispering campaign stuff you told us about at the last conference in Iraq? I've been using a lot of that with Jacob!"

"Excellent" Lucifer smiled. "Details, man, I need details!"

Malatestes explained how he subtly whispered while Jacob was reading his Bible how much the man wasn't measuring up to God's standards. How he subtly directed Jacob's thoughts to his upbringing, exposing some of the fallacies of modern religion and how man's interpretation of scripture was to be suspect. He played upon Jacob's fears that he wasn't a good enough husband and that his actions would be detrimental to his children. He even started pushing the man's son to question his father's faith while at the same time making Jacob question his own beliefs.

"I whispered, 'How do you know you're one of the elect? The chosen? A new creation when you still sin like that?'"

Lucifer giggled and rubbed his hands. "Beautiful!" he cried. "Wonderful!" "Using our enemy's words against one of His own! I love it!"

Mal snickered and said, "I have more."

"Go on!"

"I pushed his despair buttons." He paused to let it sink in. Lucifer looked perplexed then his face broke into a grin.

"Did he? I mean...seriously?"

"Oh he did. Planned it all out too. Note to the wife and kids, out in the backyard with the .38. The whole ball of wax."


Malatestes made an awful face. "Gabriel showed up!"

"Augh!!!" Lucifer said, slamming his fist on the desk and rising to his feet. "Not Gabe! Damn it! I hate it when he does that!" Sitting back down he sighed and said, "What did he say?"

"Not so much what he said as what he allowed the man's mind to see. His wife and kids without a husband and father. The shame it would cause his family. The mess it would make of his kids lives. How it would be the ultimate lack of faith and the ultimate example of failure in Jacob's life."

Lucifer slumped in his chair and pouted. "He bought it didn't he." It wasn't a question.

Malatestes just nodded. "But no fear. It's a minor set back. I've been working on people in his office. Several are more than willing to, shall we say, stab him in the back? Kick him while he's down? Because he doesn't meet their standards? I'm pretty sure he'll lose his job in about three months. That's how long I plan on stretching this thing out!"

"Good. Let me know how it goes. Check back in, oh say...." Lucifer thumbed through his desk calendar. "Sometime in October. That should be good."

Malatestes saluted and disappeared in a poof of red and black smoke. Lucifer sat back and thought about his challenge and the subject he'd selected. He'd done exhaustive research on his target and he was sure he could make the man fall. His faith seemed fragile and with Malatestes pushing all the right buttons, he might actually win this one...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Another Second Chance, Again

(A Jobian Tale of Grace and Second Chances)

God of second chances,
Here I am again.
God of second chances,
Meet me at your Mercy Seat.

Meet me, Jesus, meet me.
Won't you meet me in the middle of the air.
And if these wings should fail me Lord,
Won't you meet me with another pair...

God is sitting in His throne room, Jesus the Son on His right hand and The Holy Ghost (HG for short) is on the computer debating whether to show up as requested by the praise band leader at the Foothill Community Fellowship Gathering, when in walks Lucifer.

"Hey 'Bub" God says as the good-looking, nattily-dressed, professionally-whitened smiling being sometimes knows at Beelzebub, Scratch, the Devil, Satan, or the Beast glides to a stop, his Bruno Magli's making nary a noise on the jasper and carnelian floor.

Lucifer cringes slightly, his smile dims momentarily but comes back stronger. "I prefer 'Prince of the Power of the Air' if you must know but Lucifer will do" he says.

"Okay Scratch" God replies. "What can I do for you? By the way, like what we done with the place? Looks a bit different since you left!" He added with a smile.

Lucifer looked around and said, "Eh...same ol', same ol" while what he was really thinking was, "This coulda been mine I tell ya...mine!"

"It was never going to be yours" God said quietly but with a force that made Lucifer's spine go cold.

He cleared his throat and answered, "Well if you must know...I'm a bit bored."

"What?" God said. "The Jews and the Arabs not enough fun these days? Gay Republican's not providing a challenge? Pat Robertson ceasing to become a source of entertainment?" God baited.

"Oh, don't get me wrong" Satan said. "All of that is fun in its own way but I'm looking for something more meaningful. Something...big!"

"Ahhh..." God said, sitting back on his throne. He cast a look at Jesus and HG, who had declined the invitation as the praise band leader was on his 22nd time through the chorus begging the HG to "appear and fill us again". Jesus and HG gave a knowing smile and God continued. "And just what do you have in mind?"

Lucifer paced the floor, hand on his chin as if he were just now contemplating the answer. He stopped and looked up at God and said, "I want the opportunity to convert one of your own."

The room grew quiet. The cherubim and seraphim stopped their singing, Michael and Gabriel both grasped the handles of their flaming swords, and whole host of heavenly angels grew silent.

"Uh, didn't you try that once before?" Jesus asked.

"And didn't it not turn out quite the way you thought it would?" the HG added.

God chuckled and said, "Ah, Job." Looking up at Ole Scratch He said, "Is that what you're thinking of? Another shot at one of mine? A chance to make one of mine turn from Me? You think one of mine will be swayed?"

Lucifer cringed and his ire rose every time God said 'one of mine'.

"Yes, yes, yes...One of yours!" Lucifer snapped. Recomposing himself he said, "I think I've found one that can be pushed over the edge."

"And whom might that be?" God asked.

"Him!" Lucifer said, pointing to the floor that had shimmered and coalesced into a screen of sorts. There was a man sitting at his desk, laughing at an off-color joke his co-worker was telling. The man turned back to his keyboard and everyone in the throne room could see an aura of shame around the man that he quickly slammed shut and hid in a small corner of his soul.

"Jacob L" Lucifer said. "He's ready. All he needs is a push."

"And you think if you push him he'll fall?" God asked.

"Right into my waiting arms" Lucifer said with a smile.

Jesus raised his eyebrows in doubt and HG went back his computer screen. Michael and Gabriel took their hands from their flaming swords and nodded at each other. The angels went back to their work and the cherubim and seraphim returned to their singing and going to and fro.

"What? You doubt me?", Lucifer asked.

"Well, you haven't had such a good record in that department" God said. "Remember Job?"

Lucifer snarled and said, "That's because you protected him!"

"Of course I did!" God barked. "He was one of mine! It's my job to protect my own!"

Lucifer held back all his arguements and said, "Well then....are you afraid I've honed my technique over the millenia? Afraid I might be able to turn one of yours?"

God seemed to grow in size and his voice rose as He spoke. "Don't take that tone of voice with me, Lucifer. Don't challenge the Lord God!"

Lucifer swallowed, thinking he might have overplayed his hand a bit but still, he stood his ground and asked, "Well...what's the answer?"

God the Father looked at God the Son who was looking at God the Holy Spirit and all three as One said, "Go. You may not harm his physical being nor harm his family. Everything else is available to you."

Lucifer grinned and turned to leave the throne room. As he reached the door he heard Jesus softly say, "I died for him, don't forget that."

Lucifer involuntarily cringed, his shoulders hunching up. "Oh yeah...I know" he mumbled as the door closed behind him.

To be continued....

Monday, October 02, 2006

Enough Already!

(HT to Highlander Bulletin Board .)

I've had ENOUGH! OK, I have had it! I've taken all I can stand and I can't stand any more. Every time my TV is on, all that can be seen is effeminate men prancing about, redecorating houses and talking about foreign concepts like "style" and "feng shui." Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, metrosexual, non-sexual; blue, green, and purple-sexual -bogus definitions have taken over the urban and suburban world! Real men of the world, stand up, scratch your butt, belch, and yell "ENOUGH!" I hereby announce the start of a new offensive in the Culture Wars, the Retrosexual movement.

The Code:

A Retrosexual man, no matter what the women insists, PAYS FOR THE DATE.

A Retrosexual man opens doors for a lady. Even for the ones that fit that term only because they are female.

A Retrosexual DEALS with IT; be it a flat tire, break-in into your home, or a natural disaster, you DEAL WITH IT.

A Retrosexual not only eats red meat, he often kills it himself.

A Retrosexual doesn't worry about living to be 90. It's not how long you live, but how well. If you're 90 years old and still smoking cigars and drinking, I salute you.

A Retrosexual does not use more hair or skin products than a woman. Women have several supermarket aisles of stuff. Retrosexuals need an end cap (possibly 2 end caps if you include shaving goods).

A Retrosexual does not dress in clothes from Hot Topic when he's 30 years old.

A Retrosexual should know how to properly kill stuff (or people) if need be. This falls under the "Dealing with IT" portion of The Code. A Retrosexual watches no TV show with "Queer" in the title. Example..."Queer Eye for the Straight Guy".

A Retrosexual does not let neighbors screw up rooms in his house on national TV.

A Retrosexual should not give up excessive amounts of manliness for women. Some is inevitable, but major reinvention of yourself will only lead to you becoming a frou-frou little puss, and in the long run, she ain't worth it.

A Retrosexual is allowed to seek professional help for major mental stress such as drug/alcohol addiction, death of your entire family in a freak tree chipper accident, favorite sports team being moved to a different city, favorite bird dog expiring, etc. You are NOT allowed to see a shrink because Daddy didn't pay you enough attention. Daddy was busy DEALING WITH IT .When you screwed up, he DEALT with you.

A Retrosexual will have at least one outfit in his wardrobe designed to conceal himself from prey.

A Retrosexual knows how to tie a Windsor knot when wearing a tie -and ONLY a Windsor knot.

A Retrosexual should have at least one good wound he can brag about getting.

A Retrosexual knows how to use a basic set of tools. If you can't hammer a nail, or drill a straight hole, practice in secret until you can -or be rightfully ridiculed for the wuss you are.

A Retrosexual knows that owning a gun is not a sign that you're riddled with fear; guns are TOOLS and are often essential to DEAL WITH IT. Plus it's just plain fun to shoot.

Crying. There are very few reason that a Retrosexual may cry, and none of them have to do with TV commercials, movies, or soap operas. Sports teams are sometimes a reason to cry, but the preferred method of release is cussing or throwing the remote control. Some reasons a Retrosexual can cry include (but are not limited to) death of a loved one, death of a pet (fish do NOT count as pets in this case), loss of a major body part.

When a Retrosexual is on a crowded bus and or a commuter train, and a pregnant woman, heck, any woman gets on, that Retrosexual stands up and offers his seat to that woman, then looks around at the other so-called men still in their seats with a disgusted "you punks" look on his face.

A Retrosexual knows how to say the Pledge properly, and with the correct emphasis and pronunciation. He also knows the words to the Star Spangled Banner

A Retrosexual will have hobbies and habits his wife and mother do not understand, but that are essential to his manliness, in that they offset the acceptable manliness decline he suffers when married/engaged or in a serious healthy relationship -i. e., hunting, boxing, shot putting, shooting, cigars, car maintenance.

A Retrosexual man can drive in snow (heck, a blizzard) without sliding allover or driving under 20mph, without anxiety, and without high-centering his ride in a snow bank.

A Retrosexual man can chop down a tree and make it land where he wants. Wherever it lands is where he darn well wanted it to land.

A Retrosexual will give up his seat on a bus to not only any women but any elderly person or person in military dress (except 2nd Lt's) NOTE: The person in military dress may turn down the offer but the Retrosexual man will ALWAYS make the offer to them and thank them for serving their country. (Amendment -If you work on a military base, the giving up your seat part of this rule does not apply)

A Retrosexual man doesn't need a contract --a handshake is good enough. He will always stand by his word even if circumstances change or the other person deceived him.

A Retrosexual man doesn't immediately look to sue someone when he does something stupid and hurts himself. We understand that sometimes in process of doing things we get hurt and we just DEAL WITH IT!

People, I'm not th' one who wrote this. I thot it was amusin' an' tha' I'd share it with those might like it, also.
If you are one of those who didn' like it...DEAL WITH IT!