Nothing To See Here: Notes on a Current Flash Fiction Project

Nothing To See Here: Notes on a Current Flash Fiction Project

The Call of the Wendig has sounded, and I must follow.

Here we all are, doing what needs to be done. Some of us in the midst of taking care of some business that has been needing to be taken care of for the longest time. Suddenly, and without warning, another school shooting happened on Valentines Day 2018. As of that day, the number of school shootings stands at 17. That’s two away from meeting the record from last year.

Chuck Wendig’s felt it. I’ve felt it. Anyone with a pulse and a conscious has felt it. It’s really hard to concentrate on doing anything creative when another unexplained act of extreme violence takes the lives of 17 children. It’s also rather chilling to think that in 2018 we have to use the modifier another when speaking about an atrocity like a school shooting. Like we regard it as a casual inconvenience along the lines of Five o’clock Traffic. Chuck has posed to us a challenge because there are things to be said. There are more voices that need to be heard. There needs to be a healing.

The theme of this latest challenge, to the surprise of absolutely no one is “A World Without Guns”. I have spent a few days with this going through my head. I don’t think I’m any closer to visualizing it than I was the week before. Maybe this is why he made this challenge. Maybe this is why I need to accept it.

How Did We Get Here?

Okay, let’s clear the deck and start rearranging the furniture. There’s a lot of stuff to unpack, and it would help if I kinda knew where I was going. First of all, what type of world are we talking about? Second, there is a consideration of story length. Third, what is the theme? What is the message I’m trying to convey? Once again, I’m treating the smaller things with great importance. I’m doing it again because it matters. This one effing matters.

1. What Is The Shade of the Sky in Your World?

There is probably no way to get through this without blatantly committing the worst examples of Impostor Syndrome. I’ve researched all the examples I can think of, all the classics, all the new voices. Sooner or later, they all start sounding familiar. Bradbury leaps to mind. Vonnegut could probably do this in his sleep. For this, I think I want to go a little darker, and this means I have to ask myself one thing before I jump in with both feet: What Would Stephen King Do?

First, is this a world where guns have been outlawed? Well, if that’s the case, then it kinda isn’t necessarily a world without guns. If you ban something, anything, make that thing even more desirable because it is forbidden, they just don’t go away. They go underground. You would have the deepest and darkest of black markets where the world’s weapons would still be for sale, but only to the people who will go through great lengths to get there. I think this world would exist without stretching the imagination too much, and so I think I’ll stick in this one.

The other possibility is that they were never invented to begin with. We could live in a world where we never evolved passed the Dark Ages. This could mean literally, where dragons exist along side of WiFi technology. Or it could mean figuratively where our attitudes haven’t changed much since then; we still fear the unknown, witchcraft is very much a thing and surgery is still done with leeches. The former seems like a decent idea for another time, but the latter would be better suited, if only for a spice, an accent, for this scenario. It’s modern day, but people are still completely, willfully, dangerously ignorant. Flat Earthers and Anti-vaxxers come to mind.

2. That’s A Rather Personal Question, Isn’t It Sir?

How long is it? This is a very real issue that needs to be addressed. The challenge is for 1500 words, no one is going to fault for going a smidge over. The point is that it needs to stay short. The basis of writing Flash Fiction is to tell the story, sell the story, get to the point as quickly as possible in the space that you have. 1500 words is pretty much max capacity for Flash Fiction. The answer to this question should be exactly that, and it should be something that I stick to, but is there another way around it?

As of this point, I’m well over my daily session target of 500 words. Not bragging, but I knocked them out within an hour, and I’m not slowing down either. I feel this play needs to be performed in 4 acts. Realistically, I could smoosh everything down to Flash Fiction size, but my compulsion to go big is speaking louder, so how do I curb this?


  • Keep it short: Limit to one scene. Limit to two characters AT THE MOST. Begin close to the end.
  • Use one theme ONLY
  • Use one plot line ONLY
  • Keep it tight: save only the essential items of a back story. Get rid of fluff words, and unnecessary dialog.

Keep in mind that Flash Fiction is essential if for nothing else than practice. It’s something that tightens the spring for a longer story. That’s why this is a challenge, it’s going against everything that I want to do.

3. What Are You Saying?

The premise of this story is a world without guns. But does that necessarily correlate to a world without violence? From an outsider’s perspective, gun culture, particularly an American brand of gun culture, seems to be not too far away from a sort of Feudalism. Maybe the term “living in the dark ages” as a little more apropos these days. Within the framework of what I need to write, there is now a world completely devoid of guns, but evil still remains. Nobody shoots up a school anymore, but people still fear the unknown. People still segregate, diminish, hate. It’s the notion of accepting a Utopian society were it not for the people who still feel the “need for a gun”. They need some magic weapon to make all the things they consider bad to disappear. Take away the guns, but leave the fear and ignorance. What happens then?

I envision a world in the final throes of a democracy. A world where enlightenment has been going on so long that it feels like it’s been tarnished by it’s own brilliance. How would this story be told? How would I write it? What am I trying to say? Throw all the guns away, if it will make you happy. You still won’t erase ignorance and greed. You still won’t save people from themselves. It is 2018, and we have learned, and will learn, nothing.

But, let’s put all that on the back burner and focus on something in particular. I have yet to establish a theme, and instead I’m focusing on a broader picture.

What am I trying to say?

Yes, violence is bad, life and liberty is good and all that is very useful if you’re teaching children. But this is a story, not a homily. Gun violence is out of control and they should all be banned and blahblahblah I’m putting myself to sleep on this.

No one will listen if I went down the Ban All Guns road. At the same time, the point wouldn’t be made if I glorified violence either. I’d be riding that fine line between preaching to the choir or screaming in the wind. Instead of coasting on a broad generalization and starting an argument that goes nowhere, maybe try and disassemble the whole morality of it, lay the whole issue out on a blanket as if I were taking apart a motor, and find one thing about this topic that is important enough to write a story about.

Let’s step away from the guns themselves for a moment. It’s window dressing and only represents a small part of the argument. Not to diminish their existence and the destruction that they bring, I get that part. What specifically about the gun culture that riles me? Is it the deaths? Sure. Is it that we are the only country in the “civilized” world that assassinates children on a regular basis without really doing anything about it? Absolutely. It’s all those things, but the biggest issue I have, the thing that makes my blood boil, has nothing to do with the actual weapons of war. It has to do with the hypocrisy around it.

A tragedy happens, and the normal thing to do, outside of the natural mourning period, would be to take steps to figure out what happened to make sure that it never happens again. Regulations are put in place. Media blitzes swamp the landscape. People talk about it. Seat belts. Drunk driving. Smoking is bad for you. Speed limits. The ineffective “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. All of these were the result of people taking action after a tragedy, and all of these are all commonplace now. We wear seat belts. Drunk driving is a no no. Smoking is no longer socially acceptable.

Someone shoots up a school, which *winces* happens on a fairly regular basis these days, and the people, the people we count on, the people we elected to hear us and understand us and do something when our lives are in danger, are strangely quiet about it. In the case of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, they’ve been seeing something and saying something for a while now. In fact, they’ve been quite active on this. The tragedy here is that no one bothered to listen or take them seriously because… pfft… kids… amiryte?

It’s not just the weapons themselves, it’s the ignorance and the arrogance and the hypocrisy and the twisted logic surrounding it that I find the most horrifying.

This is where my story lies. This is where I’ll start.



The Resentment Machine: A Commentary

The Resentment Machine: A Commentary

I got into a Twitter squabble recently. It happened before Irma hit, and it was a small argument, but it still got under my skin.

The days leading up to last weekend was this slow crawl of dread. All the news that was concerning Irma was centered around how massive she was and how it was going to be the end of the world etc. Headlines were on constant repeat on the over-glorification of how deadly this was; “Climatologists in Awe: We have never seen anything like this! You’re SCREWED, FLORIDA!” It was deadly, make no mistake. It leveled a Caribbean island, and made Miami look like Venice. By the time it reached us in Central Florida, it was a Category 1; a tropical storm with an attitude. Not that anyone noticed with the flooding and destruction as we crawled out of our homes the next day. As I type this less than a week later, we still don’t have phone service. The nightly chorus of crickets have been replaced by generators. By the time Irma reached Central Florida, it didn’t matter anymore how strong she was. You were going to feel her wrath. Irma was bad. Period.

And every year it seems without fail, after each named hurricane that comes tearing up the I-4 Corridor, there are at least a half a dozen local news reports on the deaths that followed. Not as a direct result of the storm, nonono. The deaths I’m talking about are more tragic. Every single time, there is always…ALWAYS…someone dumb enough to operate their gas powered generator inside the house. As if carbon monoxide poisoning was some Liberal hoax perpetrated to undermine NASCAR or something.

Every time the storms come, senseless tragedy follows. But, here’s the thing: We are talking about Floridians here.

Now…wait…WAAAAIIITT…before you get all worked up here for one reason or another, let me explain.

It is true that Florida has been known for its, shall we say, abundance of a population who possess a particular brand of t3h dumb. From “hanging chads” to hilariously botched robbery attempts, it leaves little to the imagination how we end up the punchline of a party joke. I’ll admit it, I’ve seen it, it’s real. However, it’s not any different from the stupidity that happens in other parts of the country. The only difference is that we seem to have cornered the market on it. Almost as if the rest of the country regards us as that guy. You know? The person they always use as an example in radio commercials? “Don’t be that guy. Use AXE body spray.”

I’m a Yankee. It’s something that’s brought to my attention pretty much every time I step outside of my house here in pay-you-in-sunshine Florida. I’ll be the first to admit that I run the range of shaking my head to full out flabbergastedness when I read a headline about some headscratchingly stupid thing committed by a Floridan. I anxiously follow the continuing saga of “Floridaman“. (For more information that makes my long story even longer, I refer you to the ‘Florida’ tag on What I’m trying to say is that I’ve had my share of laughs at Florida’s expense. But after going through a few years of life altering storms, one tends to have a change of perspective. What I mean when I said, “we are talking about Floridians here,” please understand that I mean that with the best intentions.

I got into a Twitter spat with someone pre-storm because I was expressing my disdain for the gory headlines that seemed to be posted with just a smidgen of glee by CNN and the like. The person I argued with took the stance that it’s good to keep the public informed and to make people aware of what’s going on. I proceeded to tell him that I completely agree, and I didn’t exactly appreciate his tone.


Full disclosure: Yes, my Twitter handle is @his40thieves and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with writing or book promotion. All of my social anxiety media accounts were made a long time ago, long before I knew the rules of tying all of them together to make a uniform package for somethingsomethingSEOsomething. I have a YouTube account that’s probably going to go away soon. A g+ account where I spend most of my time. A Twitter, an Instagram, a Pinterest, and a Tumblr…for some reason. All of which have different names, all of which have nothing to do with each other. In the future, I’ll need to put all my ducks in a row and become a grown up and stuff.


My case is that if every headline was a Doomsday headline, it wouldn’t take long for people to start tuning the information out, which ultimately will exacerbate things. I can understand if you were in Boston reading this and feeling a twinge of concern as you sip your Pumpkin-Spice Latte and tug on your cableknit sweater that you bought online from Urban Outfitter. But as a Florida resident, this is the kind of thing that fuels The Resentment Machine as we frantically wipe the grocery store shelves clean, board up our windows again, sandbag our doors, again, and try and find a way out of here before the storm arrives while at the same time avoiding some gun nut road-rager on 95 that has the capability of killing us all because the KFC he usually goes to ran out of potato wedges.

These headlines were of no benefit to us. None. We know the storm is coming. We know it’s deadly. We know the precautions we have to take and that it’s probably best that we evacuate. WE KNOW THIS! YOU DON’T HAVE TO BEAT THE HORSE ANYMORE BECAUSE IT STOPPED BREATHING DAYS AGO!


Remember, we are talking about Floridians here. The Fear that this person is presuming we magically don’t have has been simmering on our collective back burner for days. It was seven days out and already a category 5. People in the Keys were already making preparations; out of state hotel reservations, stowing personal belongings, stocking up on gasoline. We were ready. We were prepared.  Of course, ‘being prepared’ depended on your definition of the phrase. There were those who were prepared to flee to safety, and those who were prepared to meet their doom.

The vast majority of us did what was in our power to do. Not that you’d notice with every other report focusing on the people who were going to hunker down and wait it out. Not that you’d notice because you’re too busy shaking your head thinking, “Those poor, poor idiots. Don’t they know how selfish and irresponsible they are? They’re risking their lives and taking the time away from rescuers who should be helping other people.” (No joke. Someone actually said this.) This is the last thing you want to hear as you’re running down the list of emergency phone numbers, making sure you have ice and perishable foodstuffs, and making sure your children aren’t freaking out in terror because they have no idea what’s going on. It’s worse than offering ‘thoughts and prayers‘.

It is this last point that I would like to address.

This is how the wheels in The Resentment Machine start turning.


First of all, my heart goes out to Houston, Corpus Christi, and Louisiana. To Belize, Nicaragua and The Yucatan Peninsula, and everyone else affected by Harvey. To the people of Puerto Rico, Barbuda, The Virgin Islands, and everyone else in the Caribbean who were devastated by Irma, there is a hole in my heart that is filled with sorrow. I cannot imagine or fathom your loss. I am sorry.

Now, I know what you’re saying, “Oh, lookit you, Mr. Istillhavepower. Maybe we should tone it down and get off our high horse for a minute.” We were lucky. Every year, we spin the barrel and hope the chamber with the bullet in it doesn’t land on us. We always run the risk of not being lucky. We always run the risk of being washed out to sea, or being swallowed by it. We run the risk of tornadoes and hurricanes, of alligators and sinkholes, of 2nd Amendment fanboys and people who should have never been issued a driver’s licence like…ever. Everyday there is something out there waiting to harm you; we’re like America’s Australia. But as real as these threats are, and there are plenty of them, we don’t let that stop us from doing what we need to do. We are talking about Floridians here. We know when danger is coming.

I hunkered down. Pretty much everyone in my neighborhood did the same thing (with the exception of my next door neighbors who just moved here). Irma was followed the moment she grew, and we all paid attention; reading her every movement and adjusting accordingly. By this time last week, we had a general feel for where she was going. Could we have left? Absolutely. Should we have? Possibly.

The point is, we stayed and survived. The point is, we were told we were irresponsible for staying. By our own people. If you stayed, you were being irresponsible.

Here’s the reasons why these people were ‘irresponsible’.

Nowhere To Go

There are a lot of homeless and displaced people in Florida. Most of them knew enough to get out of the damn way and take shelter. On the flip side, there are a lot of homeless and displaced who made the conscious decision to not seek shelter. I shudder to think as to why they wouldn’t, but regardless, it’s not my place to force someone into doing something they don’t want to do.

Perhaps they are cognisant of their own mental illness, maybe they were abused as children and the thought of being cooped up with a bunch of strangers isn’t too appealing. Maybe it’s a chemical dependency. Maybe one or two of them have an outstanding warrant. I’m talking about a small percentage of a small percentage. “A brave man doesn’t mind the feel of the weather on his face,” a line from Big Trouble in Little China once stated. “But a wise man knows enough to get in out of the rain.” They made their choice, and it has nothing to do with you. Nothing. These people have been marginalized their entire lives, and even now as a hurricane threatens to erase them completely, you still…STILL refer to them as a burden. If it were me, I’d tell you to go screw too.

They’ve made their choice. Respect it.

But beyond that, not everyone has property out of state. Not everyone has friends or family that they can pop in on at a moment’s notice. Not everyone is fast enough to make a reservation at a hotel that they want. Some of us are old and infirmed. Some of us are just plain stuck.

No Means To Get There

You might not own a car. Maybe you do, but it’s a twenty year old Pontiac because that’s all you could afford and there’s no way you could fit everything and everyone into your car. Or, maybe you can, but sacrifices have to be made (sorry, grandma). Maybe you’re slightly more fortunate to have a minivan that’s on its last legs, and it’s good enough to get to the Panhandle. Maybe. Even if you did have an escape plan, there is that tiny detail of being surrounded by water on three sides. Your only option is to head north on your choice of two highways. Good luck with that. I hope your car doesn’t overheat, cause a traffic jam, and you’d have to make it out of here on foot.

Some of us are just fortunate enough to have a car that works. Something that will bring us back and forth to our low wage jobs so we can be fortunate enough to get another barely functioning vehicle a few years later. Maybe.

Which leads me to my next point…

We Can’t Afford It

The main source of revenue in Florida is tourism, slightly ahead of agriculture. That means there are lot of people that live here work in the service industry, which is a nice way of saying, “there’s a lot of people who live here that don’t make a living wage.”

Let’s say for example you’re main source of income is from working as a nurse. It’s the best job you can get. The pay isn’t that great, but you’re surviving.

All of a sudden, a major hurricane is going to roll over you in 5 days. You have about 3 days to make up your mind: stay or go?

If you choose to go, your first option is to fly out. It’s nice, but since you haven’t allowed for an emergency like this on your meager budget, you’re going to take a huge financial hit that you won’t recover from for a while. Not a pleasant option with student loans due. So, your second choice would be to drive out of here, maybe get a hotel room for the weekend somewhere out of state. Gas, food, lodging, pretty soon you’re looking at a month’s rent or higher. Every possibility that is presented to you looks less and less likely to happen.

If you choose to stay, then there’s the inevitable Thunderdome Gauntlet of Destruction you have to endure at the gas stations and grocery stores. You stock up on what’s available and what you can afford. Depending on where you’re living, you might invest in a generator. Otherwise, you sandbag your door, barricade your windows and pray.

No Seriously, We REALLY Can’t Afford It

The storm is over, and depending on which route you took, you’re either coming home or you’re cleaning up the mess that’s left behind while checking up on your neighbors. Whichever scenario you took, you best get back to work soon because Florida is a “Right to Work/At Will” state. That means that you had best hope you have an compassionate employer, and they can sympathize that you couldn’t come in because your apartment just got used as a chew toy from a Category 5 hurricane.

Otherwise, they can fire you on the spot.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t leave during the storm is the least talked about. If they leave, they run the risk of losing the only job they have. That a hurricane might erase you from this very plane of existence is not an excuse. You didn’t show up. You’re as good as gone.

People who are hospitalized or worse because of carbon monoxide poisoning aren’t doing it out of just plain ignorance. They run them in their house, because they are less likely to get stolen. Generators aren’t cheap, especially during Hurricane Season. These things are an investment that some people can’t afford to lose, and if that means risking your life, then so be it. “Oh, just let it go,” I hear you say. “It’s a material thing. It’s not worth dying over.” Tell that to the family who needs power to keep an oxygen tank going or a refrigerator to keep medicine in.

The Florida that everyone wants you to see is that of upward mobility. Everything has to be packaged like a glossy travel brochure; all shiny and new. You would think that Florida is all about Disney World and Palm Beach and Mar-a-Lago. Of course we want you to see that, because the other Florida, the Florida that you hear about on the 6 o’clock news, the Florida that cleans and maintains these shining testimonies to wanton, unchecked capitalism at $8 an hour isn’t quite as sexy.


It’s easier to refer to us as a meme. Especially when the shit hits the fan in a situation like Irma or Charley. Have a few laughs and secretly be relieved that it’s not going to happen to you. It’s easier to refer to some of us as “irresponsible” because it throws the attention away from the fact that you probably don’t know what you’re doing either and you’re probably racist. It’s easier to cast dispersions and be appear aloof, because you’ll never have to go through what we do.

You’ll probably never have to worry that your only option for employment is a dead end job where you can be fired on a whim. You’ll probably never have to live in constant fear of being wiped out by a monster storm or being pillaged by looters after the fact. You’ll probably never have to worry about your entire neighborhood being flattened, or the people that you knew yesterday are now missing. You’ll probably never have to make that gut-wrenching decision of having to stay because there is no other option for you. You’ll probably never know what it’s like to feel the wheels of The Resentment Machine turn every time we’re looked down upon because you think we’re too stupid to get out of our own way.

And that’s fine.

Because, after all, we are talking about Floridians here. Sun worshipping, beach dwelling, blue crab eating, monster truck driving Floridians who are well acquainted with danger, because in most cases, it lives right next door to us.

Hurricanes are nothing new to us.

It would be “irresponsible” for you to assume that we are ignorant of that.

You know what’s “irresponsible”? Rush Limbaugh calling Hurricane Irma a “Liberal Hoax”. It’s worth noting that this “Liberal Hoax” made his fat ass evacuate real quick. He has an audience that is in the millions. How many do you suppose died because they listened to this moron and decided to carry on as if nothing’s unusual?

This guy gets a pass for blatantly passing along misleading and quite possibly lethal information, but we’re “irresponsible” for not evacuating?

It’s been over a week.

The sun was out today.

Phone service came back.

I cleaned up my yard.

Two more storms have been spotted in the Atlantic and are planning to hit the east coast in a week or two.

The Resentment Machine still hums.



Whatever I Want Wednesdays: Where Is Fancy Bred? (Caution: Rant in Progress)

Okay, to be honest… I thought it was “bread”. I always thought that Benvolio was looking for a specific baker that made this particular loaf of Pumpernickel. Which was rather odd because he was gambling for his life at the moment. Maybe picking the right casket made him…hungry…what was I talking about?

Anyway, this quote:

“…Where is fancy bred? In the heart, or in the head?”

-William Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice)
Forget for a moment that this quote is more noted for being in a certain movie, this question basically asks: “How should we love? Passionately, or wisely?” Implying, of course, that never the twain shall meet. As with many things attributed to the bard, this quote could easily be applied as a life lesson for many things other than amorous crushes. Would it be too far removed to ask, “How should we live?”

I never gave too much credence to any so-called “Self-Help Gurus”, or “Life Coaches”. Perhaps it was the jaded nature of my generation that casts a wary eye to these individuals. Our childhood dominated by experiencing the Vietnam War on a nightly basis, the ripple effect left by Watergate, and the seeds of the Cold War being planted and cultivated may have also formed our mindset. I remember being herded into our high school gymnasium on a yearly basis to be screamed at wowed by these “Motivational Speakers”with their big hair, loud Cosby Sweaters and go-get ’em attitude telling us to be MOTIVATED!!….apparently for the sake of being….MOTIVATED because your typical high school teacher had no idea how teach it themselves and had to get someone else to do it. Someone else that was hired by…I don’t know…let’s say Texas school text book publishers. Someone who thought that getting some dude in his forties would be the perfect candidate to communicate with the kids, because they’re cool and rad too! THEY know how to reach the kids! THEY know what they want…because we tell them to like what they want…Look! He’s singing along with a Foreigner song! He MUST be one of us! He’s so relatable! I mean, forget that its a band made up of old dudes and the only people listening to them are your crazy uncle who blares it from his 8-track in his customized van, forget that a kids in the 80s (the cooler kids) are more inclined to listen to Van Halen than to a band that came out 10 years before we got old enough to appreciate it!….I wish MTV would hurry up and get here…but YEAH! He’s rockin’ out and telling us to be good little subservients! And he’s got concert lighting and smoke machines! I wish he were MY friend.

If the iPad was invented thirty years earlier, I guarantee you every face would be pointed towards the floor as every student Tweeted about how much of a poser this guy was. We didn’t have that back then. All we could do was give him the blank stare and fidget in our seat and wait for the lunch bell. For some, the result of having to sit through this painful ordeal had a positive effect and made (somewhat) of an impact that lasted a day or so. For the rest of us, we regarded it is bullshit window dressing designed to waste time before some of us went to vocational school. The people in the office buildings would say that their efforts paid off. The kids that it was directed it had a different opinion.

The 80s kids never listened to this, because we failed to see the point in it. We failed to see the point in it, because we felt we were being talked down to, and dressing it up in loud clothing and putting a cocaine induced smile on its face wasn’t making it any better. For all our trappings and our ambivalence, we failed to see the point in it, because your message still wasn’t reaching us, and we’re not that stupid.

But, no matter. We leapfrogged from the days of Leo Buscaglia and Deepak Chopra, and graduated to Tony

Robbins and motivational posters when we entered adulthood. Soon, the backlash happened. We figured out that we could buy our own platitudes for encouragement. We figured if we were at the point of needing help, and were motivated enough to go to the bookstore to by motivational poster or a self-help book by some New York Times Bestseller…then we are pretty much motivated to do…well…anything.

Soon, the Motivational Speaker craze gave way to a different animal. Soon, the Cosby Sweaters were replaced by slick, 80s throwbacks with their supposedly expensive suits, sitting on their Lamborghini that’s parked outside of their palatial mansion and telling the late night television viewing audience that they have the secret to success as bikini-clad models drape over their arms. These men have claimed to make it big in real estate and flipping houses, or knowing the right algorithms of the stock market, or some other far-fetched scheme, and they could give their knowledge to you…that’s right…YOU! All you have to do is sacrifice your entire weekend, write out a check for $1500 while you let this guy scream at you to buy his book while you fidget in your seat at the convention center while you check the clock and patiently wait for the time when you can go to the bathroom.

Where is fancy bred?

We are not that stupid. We failed to see the point of it because what you were selling has fallen on deaf ears and empty wallets…


Can you personally build a better business system than McDonald’s?

No, Mr. Kiyosaki, I can’t. But, I suppose you could distill the essence of attaining an MBA into one weekend retreat? Oh…also, thanks a bunch  for trying to make me regret not getting accepted into Harvard where I may have had a chance to build a better business system were my proclivities drawn to such a direction. Not all of us are so lucky. Not all of us are successful. Not all of us can afford to buy and sell real estate to flip for a profit. If we could afford it, then we wouldn’t plunk down hard earned cash to listen to you drone on for days.

I don’t mean to pick on the guy, but I don’t get the people who try to hammer his point home either. As if I needed any help in understanding a principle.

Well, that’s just it. Isn’t it? We have to redefine what “quality” means. When it comes to McDonald’s churning out a quality product, McDonald’s is way down on that list. Consumer Reports had them practically at the bottom. But since the individual experience doesn’t matter, and we’re talking a macro level model, then yes, you’ve got me that McDonald’s metrics on cranking out the same “quality” food on a consistent basis. I mean, they employ such winning tactics as that whole “Pink Slurry” thing as well as exploiting their workers to maximize profits, I think the question should not be “can I build a better system”, but rather should be, “can I build a better system that I can in good conscious live with myself after implementing?”

But, just for a moment, consider that all the consistency in the world isn’t going to do you much good where you’re churning out crap. Saying that, “McDonald’s customers aren’t really expecting that much” is saying something to the effect of: “…where the common customer had a choice from the dollar menu or consuming a shovel full of dirt with cheese on it, the customer will almost always pick the dollar menu…” It’s like they considered the shovel full of dirt. Does anyone else see this? Implying that McDonald’s is the only kid on the block is also pretty ludicrous. Sure, the field is a little smaller as of late as Burger King flies the coop to Canada, but they’re on the same level of crap slinging as its rival is. If an American institution pulling up stakes to head north to avoid paying taxes like a draft dodger trying to avoid the Vietnam War isn’t enough to get you to stop patronizing these places, maybe waking up one day and realizing that much closer to diabetes every time you eat there will? Maybe? No? Oh…okay….Oh LOOK! The McRib is back!!!

“Take a number? Yeah, sure. No problem.”

The Big Two of McDonald’s and Burger King aren’t the only kids on the block. Quality may not enter in the equation now. You may not see it now. But what about the long term? If these guys are placing at the bottom of the list as far as customer satisfaction goes, pretty soon that little nugget of infomation will catch up to them. 5 Guys, In-and-Out, Fatburger, White Castle, all consistently crank out an infinitely better product, and their business isn’t hurting either. Are they using the same model as McDonald’s? Their product is more expensive, and yet there’s a line out the door at my local 5 Guys and nobody seems to mind, myself included. The lines are quick at any one of the dozens of Mickey-D’s in my town, and I see red every time I order a burger that has been obviously been microwaved. Is that a better business system? Is that something I should try and emulate?

I guess what’s really getting to me is that people still confuse quality over quantity. Success isn’t necessarily a numbers game. Yes, there is about 10 McDonald’s and Burger “Great White North” Kings to every one 5Guys, but that doesn’t mean that those restaurants are any better. It just means that people don’t know any better. And don’t give me that whole, “well, it’s cheaper” argument. That’s another discussion for another time. Cheaper doesn’t mean better either, it just means people can’t afford to take a chance on anything else, and we suffer for it.

Personally, I could care less. I can’t stomach fast food anymore, but that’s not the point. What’s really getting to me is that most people will always go for the dollar menu and not be bothered to take a chance on anything of sustenance, like cooking something for themselves that doesn’t involve a microwave, or reading a blog that doesn’t have a list on it.

Where is fancy bred?

It will always be the heart. But I’m trying really hard to feel it from the head.


The Good News Has Arrived, But No One is Smiling.

“Oh look! The job I just applied for a few minutes ago just responded back. This could be good news!…Let’s see here…”

“Dear applicant,

You have requested information regarding Job Order Number ****** Office/Accounting Clerk your Employ Florida resume should include the requirements below to apply and be referred to this position.
  • Minimum five (5) years of experience as a full bookkeeper
  • Proficiency with Excel Spreadsheets and Quarterly Reports
  • Best to have construction accounting knowledge, computer experience in QuickBooks, with a full understanding of accounting which includes accounts payable and job costing
  • Experience with Rent Manager or property management is a plus.

Thank you for using Employ Florida Marketplace…”

As I’m reading this, the headlines from cable news is leading off with the the good news that the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years. And cable news, being cable news, sort of left the subject at that. As if it was some sort of Friday pep talk. You know the ones? The ones that draw us out of our cubicles with donuts like animals at feeding time at the zoo. “Hey, everyone! Good news! America is back again! Unemployment is down so yeah!


I turn off the television because there’s only so much of the cacophonous obnoxiousness I can stand. I turn my NPR as an antidote (even though I live in Florida, I stream WBUR out of Boston. Nothing against the local stations down here, it’s just that the station coming out of Orlando sounds it’s operated by a bunch of people who just want to jump off a building into a pit of hungry alligators). Their lead story is of the current job market as well; “It seems that the unemployment rate is dropping,” says the anchor. And NPR, being NPR, will always look at the bigger picture and give the news, not the news that corporate overlords want you to hear. “It seems that the unemployment rate is dropping…BUT the report does not account for the people who have given up the search, and have essentially walked away from the job market.Which is quite substantial.

“…Why did the unemployment rate sink? Because 806,000 fewer people were in the workforce. Many retired or ended their job hunts. And fewer-than-expected people began looking for work…” –JOSH BOAK AP Economics Writer 5/3/2014

Mind you this is not news. This is a news story that is recycled on a regular basis and does nothing to change the landscape for job seekers. What made it different this time was the reporter ended the lede with “…economists are still baffled as to why.” Baffled in terms of why so many people are not going back to work.

Really? I thought that being an economist involves perhaps just a smidgen of taking a look at the bigger picture. What you’re implying is that people are just walking away from the job search because they’ve given up hope, while at the same time every job has been filled. While partially true, I think you would find the answer to your conundrum if you would focus your attention to why people are allegedly walking away to begin with. Your implication would allow the typical Fox News viewer to believe that everyone in ‘Murica is lazy and it’s all Obama’s fault because Benghazi…Perhaps you should shed a little light on why companies aren’t hiring the way they used to.

All one would have needed to do was to pay attention for the passed decade to at least get an idea of it:

  • Fierce competition from within and without
  • A collapsed housing market directly related to…
  • Rising college tuition.
  • A health care system that spends more time eating itself rather than taking care of people.

Couple that with outsourcing, an unwillingness to offer a living wage, a decrease in a sense of urgency to hire full time, and all but flat out criminalizing their employees for participating in the ACA, is there any real mystery at all as to why people are walking away? If you need more reasons here are some of the greatest hits every job seeker has heard before they walk away…

  • We’re not hiring right now
  • We’ve filled that position
  • You’re too young
  • You’re too old
  • You don’t have enough experience
  • You have too much experience
  • You have the adequate education, but no real-world experience
  • You have plenty of practical experience, but no degree
  • You’ve stated on your resume that you know how to do this, but that technology is too old.
  • You don’t know how to juggle while riding a unicycle (or, my favorite…)
  • We like you, and we want to hire you, but can you work for less than minimum wage with no benefits at part-time hours?

If these so-called “Job Creators” are such sacred cows, then why aren’t they holding up their end of the bargain? Granted, I knew I had not one chance at being hired for the job I started this blog with. I know I have very little chance at every other job I apply for as well. That’s not to say that I’m a complete idiot and have never worked an excel spread sheet before. On the job training has turned into a liability. No “job creator” wants to invest the time and effort into someone they want on a temporary basis anyway. There is no more “Learn as you go”. A degree is no guarantee, and the skill set to do something that is essentially mundane busywork is over the moon. Nowadays, you do need a doctorate degree to be considered to man the fry station at a McDonald’s. Am I exaggerating? Not really.

If these so-called “Job Creators” are such sacred cows, then why aren’t they holding up their end of the bargain? I have yet to hear of one job that was created by these people that didn’t involve guns or a casino. The American Dream has packed up and moved overseas leaving the rest of us to polish the brass on the Titanic. If there are so many good jobs out there, where are they? If the good news is that unemployment is lower than it has been in years, why isn’t anyone happy?

This is the reason why I’m trekking out on my own. I consider it madness to try and shoehorn myself into a job that I might have experience in, only to not be satisfied with it. The chances of me finding something I might be compatible with are drying up. Pretty soon, I’ll be one of the ones who are walking away.