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164 A.A.

As pleased as I was to present Matilda the free pass on the beach last month, I’m more disappointed to report she lost all privileges yesterday in a foolish immature exhibition in front of other dogs and people. Despite my repeated instructions to come and settle down she continued to perform at a jackassian level rarely seen in our lifetimes.

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I finally remembered I wanted to state despite all the moronic political news we read about sometimes good intentions are done, probably more at the local level. One example I have is at a local park the benches are equipped with bbq grill stored underneath. Why is that you may ask? Well, its preparation for a natural disaster, necessary in an earthquake-prone region. These grills will be able to help people survive. If you’ve seen videos of people after a disaster holed up in a temporary shelter you could see how this might provide some relief.


Now maybe this was some pork on some politician’s bill and we find out a friendly deal was made, but at surface level it seems to be something proposed with the common man in mind.

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As I’m firmly ensconced in my 50s now, I’m starting to see some of my classmates, my smart and lucky classmates retiring or scaling back. I look back at that time and remember I believed I was on the right path to success, well at least the conventional path. Then something happened and I took a quick left. A hard left. Now, I keep asking myself why I couldn’t stay with them. What was the defective part of me that prevented me from sticking it out?


Going over and over that for hours, days, and months I’ve come to the conclusion I should’ve never been on the path. Not that I didn’t want to be on the path, though it requires servility and subjugation. And there wasn’t part of my makeup. I had been indoctrinated under another type of leader.


I was provided a guide in my father that from the time I was able to walk I could discern this was a man that is going to do it his way, regardless if it destroys him and the surrounding counties( the grass fire on the windy day still brings the sweats). He despised organizations and overseers. He wanted to be free from restraint, not just from work but also his family (picking up kids from sport practices really hinders card games and happy hour). Some people can direct this obstinacy to conform into starting their own business or developing some skill that can provide a life of free reign. My father was never able to develop any idea or skill that would give him that opportunity, which makes him a tragic character in my story. He did have ideas from time to time, various get-rich schemes that went awry. But that didn’t stop him from influencing me and my siblings. All of us have a problem with taking direction from management or anyone perceived as having management qualities.


“Don’t be a sheep.”


I heard it a thousand times. And it insidiously made its way into my system, along with my siblings. Much to my mother’s chagrin. She so badly wanted her children to live a life more secure, more stable than they were able. And she gnashed her teeth every night knowing we were, one by one, going down that same path, not the path to prosperity, but the path being laid out by the father, the one with all the rocks and potholes. But also one that was less traveled and allowed us to keep our personalities, for good or bad.


So when I graduated with an accounting degree and walked into that office the first day, I knew I was doomed. There was no way I would be able to swallow what these strangers were serving, which was put in your time, meaning a significant portion of my young adulthood, and if they deemed I was right stuff material they would anoint me with stability, security, and a solid citizen reputation.


After a childhood with a slew of nervous memories from hearing about financial worries, the proposal didn’t sound half bad. The problem was I had absolutely no interest in whatever it was they wanted me to do at a desk 10-12 hours a day, 15 hours during busy season. What could be so important to make me miss afternoon naps and Leave it to Beaver reruns? How would

auditing financial statements help me understand anything about life beyond my cubicle.


Now, there was still a sliver of a chance I could go through with it. But it would require a white knight to lead me, to galvanize me, to pull out the feeling of camaraderie. Occasionally in my experience of team sports an older player would showcase these qualities and I would develop a sense of loyalty.


In my adult life this actually how I found myself working for an mlb team as a scout a few years back. I felt immediate loyalty from my immediate supervisor, a humble Canadian guy with much better knowledge of the game than me. With these qualities, he could’ve looked like Charles Manson and I would’ve listened keenly to what was being said.


I ate up everything he served. For four years. Then I noticed some changes in the organization. And that brought in an additional supervisor. Now I answered to two. Only this one had no tact, no communication skills, no knowledge of the game, and a not-so-humble approach. Hit the jackpot with this drip. I sucked it up for a bit to make my initial boss look good. Talked him up big time to the new guys. Then, I started feeling vibes he was aligning himself with the new regime, being a good company man. Smart move. Something in which I had previously not done well. Confiding in him, he suggested I do some work that would help myself appeal to the new faces. The problem was the more work I did, the more isolated I felt, causing me to spend hours trying to understand the organization and my place in it. Eventually I saw my loyalty toward him dry up as I saw his loyalty to himself thrive.


One final incident really soured me on loyalty and organizations after I had quit. My former boss contacted me and said he knew of a team I could hook up with, which surprised me. I hadn’t heard from him in months after I left. But I gave him four years of undivided attention and support and I now saw he was reciprocating. Maybe I had misjudged his actions before I left.


Well, after he mentioned the other team and possible position, he added that

would be given to me if I gave him some information. Oh, so it’s not alms. It’s another request for something from me. Quid-pro-quo.


I didn’t respond. I knew right then I would always be dealing with someone like him always looking for what I could do for them. Doing something and asking for nothing in return was a concept very foreign in baseball as much as in business.


Maybe I should’ve tried to further my baseball career and given him the information, but the information I’m guessing he wanted was probably something which could’ve gotten a college player into trouble. No way in hell was I going to let that happen. I wanted to help kids get an opportunity, not use them as bargaining chips in blackmail. Just thinking back to that request from my boss makes me squirm and regret working hard to impress those types.


So where was I? Oh that’s right, loyalty, white knights, and my office job life. In the office the men I was to look up to, to want to become seemed like social pariahs. It tore my soul to think I would sacrifice the majority of my life to become…that. I just couldn’t bear it. These people were the face of the organization. Ugh. I can’t see myself associating with them over coffee break, how was I going to let them direct my very short and finite life? That thinking is what set me off on a journey to seek other leaders.


Unfortunately, I never found any, or maybe they saw in me something deficient and didn’t want me to be a member. I don’t claim to know what’s best. I’m just living the life that was unconsciously designed for me.


As of right now, coming up on 30 years of non-sheepdom.


Think the old man would approve.

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