Thursday, March 31, 2011


I knew this day was coming.  It's the end of the first quarter and my job and department at work were eliminated. I am now a statistic.

There were about 80 people at my site, servicing retirement information and assistance for around 90 to 100 companies. There are four other sites, so there is plenty of assistance for the many calls that come in on a daily and nightly basis.

The company decided to concentrate this service at three sites instead of five.  Essentially my job was outsourced, though not overseas, but to a different state.

My city is going to handle one client at that company's request, but the other companies will be serviced in other states.  I could have relocated and had a job, however my family is here.  I spent ten years living in another state and town. I don't want to go through that again.

Out of the 80 folks in the department, about 25 were chosen to stay to handle the retirement issues for the one company.  Most of those had already been working with the company's plan and were familiar with it. Only about 8 people were added.  Another 8 were given jobs in a different kind of retirement service.  A few were able to obtain work in the processing department.  A few more opted to relocate.  This left about 10 of us out in the cold.

The one thing that irks me is that I applied for at least six other jobs within the firm and was told I could not have them since, "Someone needs to be here to close things out."  I don't want to give the impression that I am bitter, but it would not be realistic to not be somewhat upset.

My former employer is a wonderful company.  The best in the business.  Their ethics are above board. Compared to other firms that offer similar service, they are numero uno. I proud as heck to have worked for them.

I've learned so much working there. Not just about the financial industry, but about handling people. I enjoy talking, dispensing advice and offering solutions to all the problems that can crop up.

In the nine and a half years that I have been working I estimate that I have assisted almost 200,000 individuals with solutions.  Many of them spoke a language other than English and I was able to help. One guy spoke an unusual Cajun dialect and he went away happy.  I've talked with people as far south as Uruguay and as far north as Quebec and Norway and Sweden. I've spoke with people in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya and the Urkraine not to mention 90% of the calls from all over the United States.  I would say about 1 or 2% of those folks were very unpleasant, but most of the time, it was a joy to speak with my customers.

An old friend once told me, if you love your job at least 50% of the time, you will be successful. A chapter in my life is over and I'm ready to go on to the next.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When You're Smilin'

When your Smilin', when your smilin', the whole world smiles with you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

He? She? Who?

About a week ago, I took a phone call from someone concerned about their retirement. The co-worker that transferred the call  explained to me that the person waiting to speak to me was at one time John Smith (of course not the actual name), but he had gender reassignment surgery and is now Lisa Smith (also not the actual name) and I should address this man...uh woman as Lisa.

Needless to say it was a rather weird experience for this white bread, Bible belt, corn-fed Cracker.

I try to be nice to everyone and not let differences bother me.  But wow!  To think someone would undergo extensive surgery to have their thingie removed., because they don't like being a man or a woman.

What do they call the surgery?  A lopitophome?

I recently heard someone talking about Sonny and Cher's daughter/son Chastity, who is now known as Chas.  They said the surgical procedure she underwent was called an Addadictome.   Lisa had his removed.

Was it worth the expense and pain?  What drives a person to desire to become an imitation of the opposite sex?

This phenomena is nothing new.  As a teen, I had to ride the public bus to school.  Every morning this strange little person would get on the bus.  My friends asked their parents if this was a man or a woman.  They were told it was a he-she.  Every day the he-she wore the same garb; a plaid wool skirt that resembled a kilt, knee high socks with men's oxford shoes, a sports jacket and a type of beret called a tam-o-shanter.  If I didn't have to get off at school, I would have loved to follow the he-she to work to see which restroom was put to use.

I don't know if this is a glandular thing or what.  It must be hell going through life, wishing you were something you are not. Be thankful for who and what you are.

I wonder when a person who had transgender surgery gets to be sixty and their hormones settle down, do they regret their decision?

I also wonder which restroom Lisa uses?

Lake Marie © by John Prine

We were standing
Standing by peaceful waters
Standing by peaceful waters
Whoa Wah Oh Wha Oh
Whoa Wah Oh Wha Oh

Many years ago along the Illinois-Wisconsin Border
There was this Indian tribe
They found two babies in the woods
White babies
One of them was named Elizabeth
She was the fairer of the two
While the smaller and more fragile one was named Marie
Having never seen white girls before
And living on the two lakes known as the Twin Lakes
They named the larger and more beautiful Lake, Lake Elizabeth
And thus the smaller lake that was hidden from the highway
Became known forever as Lake Marie

Many years later I found myself talking to this girl
Who was standing there with her back turned to Lake Marie
The wind was blowing especially through her hair
There was four Italian sausages cooking on the outdoor grill
And Man, they was ssssssssizzlin'
Many years later we found ourselves in Canada
Trying to save our marriage and perhaps catch a few fish
Whatever seemed easier
That night she fell asleep in my arms
Humming the tune to 'Louie Louie'
Aah baby, We gotta go now.

The dogs were barking as the cars were parking
The loan sharks were sharking the narcs were narcing
Practically everyone was there
In the parking lot by the forest preserve
The police had found two bodies
Nay, naked bodies
Their faces had been horribly disfigured by some sharp object
Saw it on the news
On the TV news
In a black and white video
You know what blood looks like in a black and white video?
Shadows, Shadows that's exactly what it looks like
All the love we shared between her and me was slammed
Slammed up against the banks of Old Lake Marie, Marie

We were standing
Standing by peaceful waters
Standing by peaceful waters
Whoa Wah Oh Wha Oh
Whoa Wah Oh Wha Oh
Whoa Wah Oh Wha Oh
Whoa Wah Oh Wha Oh

Standing by peaceful waters
Peaceful waters
Standing by peaceful waters
Peaceful waters
Standing by peaceful waters
Peaceful waters
Standing by peaceful waters
Peaceful waters
Ahh baby, we gotta go now

John Prine was a late comer to the folk scene.  He was discovered by Kris Kristoferson when he was playing music at a Chicago folk club. He was even hailed as the New Dylan.  

Prine is a prolific song writer and has been dubbed legendary; something he talks about tongue-in-cheek during his performances.  He has won a Grammy for his album The Missing Years.  He has also survived a battle with throat cancer.  Lake Marie and In Spite of Ourselves are my favorite Prine songs.  Here is my take on Lake Marie.

I have known guys like the narrator of Lake Marie.  Guys that have no direction, no goals, no worries and not many cares except for getting by day to day.

This song is about the Twin Lakes in Kenosha Wisconsin on the boarder of Illinois and Wisconsin, Lake Elizabeth and Lake Marie

Illinois history figures strongly in Prines song, which would make sense, since he grew up and worked in Chicago.  The chorus is sung, but the verses are spoken in story form.

The first verse has it roots in reality. Mary Ray, a native of England was born June 15, 1816. She came to America is 1833 and resided in what was to become known as "English Prairie". In 1837 she was married to Jonathan Ineson, also an early settler on the prairie. Their son Robert was the first born son in the County. There were eight children in all, including the first set of twins born on the prairie. The girls were baptized Mary and Elizabeth. Both lakes were named after these girls, Lake Mary & Lake Elizabeth, which extended into Illinois, and almost to the English Prairie.  Indian raids on towns and settlers camps were a clear threat in that time period and many times the captives were women and young girls. However, this is where the song deviates from reality. Mary and Elizabeth were never abandoned by their parents or taken in by Indians.

However, in 1832, during the Black Hawk War, there were two sisters held captive by a group of Potawatomi Indians. 

The sisters lived in the town of Johnsburg, which was near Kenosha. The Twin Lakes region was inhabited by Potawatomi Indians prior to being settled by white people.

The second verse is perhaps about a relationship that Prine actually had or perhaps was mythical.  Most great writers use experience as a basis.  Prine spins the yarn in his own easy going style mixing reality and absurdity. 

He’s falling in love, but remembering grilling sssssausages.  He’s attempting to put his marriage back together and trying to catch fish.

The third and most disturbing verse speaks of a travesty the narrator says he watched on television. But is it about this same couple being savagely massacred or is it about the news event?  

From a historical perspective, The Black Hawk War started when Chief Black Hawk joined with other tribes fighting to save their land. The event became a travesty.  While escaping military forces, many women, children and elderly people were starving and could not continue.  They were left to die along the way. Many times they were slain by their own tribe members to put and end to their suffering. Sometimes they were slain by the military. Did Prine have this event in mind?  

One other thought concerns two serial killers that grew up or made there home in this area, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffry Dahmer.  Is the song about an event caused by one of these animals? 

The narrator concludes the verse by saying all the love between her and me was slammed against the banks of Old Lake Marie. Did this event end their lives and love or was the narrator watching it on television and bemoaning the loss of his own love?

"Shadows, shadows, that's exactly what it looked like."

He then shifts from his frantic thoughts back to the peaceful verse remembering; We were standing beside peaceful waters.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

If A...

...pig loses its it disgruntled?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Serenity Prayer

For all of us old foggies, I thought this was a pretty good prayer.

“God grant me the Senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the Good Fortune to run into the ones I do, and the Eyesight to tell the difference.”

And for all of the working stiffs, I offer this:

"Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I cannot accept, and the Wisdom to hide the bodies of those people I had to kill today because they pissed me off.

And also, help me to be careful of the toes I step on today as they be connected to the ass that I may have to kiss tomorrow.

Help me to always give 100% at work
12% on Monday.
23% on Tuesday.
40% on Wednesday.
20% on Thursday.
5% on Friday.

And help me to remember...

When I'm having a really bad day,
and it seems that people are trying to piss me off, that it takes 42 muscles to frown and only 4 to extend my middle finger and tell them to bite me!