Monday, February 14, 2011

May a nearsighted sand flea suck syrup off your short stack.

Please forgive the last post which belonged in Michael's Aimless blog. Here, in this blog, I'm supposed to be amiable, not confusing. Being amiable is quite a problem when you get older, as is my memory, thus the mistake. I have no problem at my job or in Dillards or Earth Fare, my favorite lunchtime stops. Heck when we moved away from being so close to my work, it actually increased my amiability. Before I could slink home and "rest" or basically take my mask of amiability off. Isn't there a cliche in there somewhere? At any rate, I feel much better when my break from work is more amiable. The cashiers at Earth Fare, a "healthy" supermarket, and the salespeople at Dillards know me quite well and I am part of their amiable day.

Recently, they cut staff at Earth Fare. One lady, whom I already knew as the "dirt lady" ( her self created nickname, not mine ) was laid off. This lady taught me all I needed to know about composting and thought of it as her duty to mankind to spread the word about dirt. She was so happy when she got a job at Earth Fare in the produce section. Her education was miles above the job she got in our post Credit Default Swap - Collateralized Debt Obligation apocalyptic world, but she was happy, for a time. Who could blame Brad the Earth Fare manager's cutting back of staff? It is equally important to keep the store in Auburn with profit as it was is to employ people, not matter how friendly the company's philosophy is.

Yet I found a break in my amiability. It didn't start when the dirt lady was fired. It started more when I saw how desperate a cashier was to help a customer who could find no other employee to help. The customer had walked to the cashier and interrupted her in her equally desperate attempts to quickly service a long line alone. She was working hard and frustrated because she was great at customer service and had no help. There were chinks in other employees who previously had been kind and gentle. Now they were rushed and hurried and looked depressed.

I wrote a note in the suggestion box about too few employees. Usually, or maybe always, these notes were put on a bulletin board along the side of the entrance of the store. I'm not sure anyone read these things except for me and other "store analysts." :)  The comment is responded to by Brad in a section under the store customer comments and it is posted on this board. The comments range from glowing to ridiculous, but always there is Brad's responsible reply. My note contained a comment that the "morale" of the staff was low. I carefully put line's in Brad's reply space so he would have no way to write a reply. I even signed it "Michael" so he would know exactly who had commented. He knew me from the past. I figured it was a message from me to Brad.

Then surprisingly, the message was there on the board. Brad had taped a piece of paper to the bottom covering my lines, so he could comment. "We are all over this."  Sure enough the amiable nature of the employees was bolstered and soon new employees were showing up to replace some laid off one's, I guess. Now I don't think my little comment caused all of this. I think there was a shakeup of employees going on anyway. Everyone was coming up for review. See, I ask pertinent questions of cashier's who tell me things about their own experience. I guessed that if my favorite employee was up for review and worried, the majority were facing reviews as the store opened at the same time, and a shakeup was in progress.

At any rate, my favorite employee made it through her review. "Yes!" she exclaimed. Wanda and I were in the store and I deserted Wanda and went straight to this employee to ask how the evaluation had gone. (Wanda is a terrific wife. She understands my idiosyncrasies like no other person in my life.) She is non parenthically my soul mate. Ummm..  Wanda...   not the employee. :) 

I knew if this employee had not made it through the process, Earth Fare was doomed. While I miss old employees who I don't see anymore, I am startled by new employees who are trying to learn the ropes. They too were out of jobs, and have a wonderful opportunity. But I'm sentimental about the employees I never see anymore.

My moment of non amiability was progressive for me.

I'm reading now about the short sellers who profited from the financial collapse. You would think they were terrible people, but not really. They saw the problem coming and placed their bets. They led a lonely existence for a few years until the market proved them right. I, too, led a lonely life with my opinions telling people that things could not continue this way. People thought me pessimistic. The market did very well during the time I thought it couldn't last. I had cried wolf. But towards the end I was so confused but I knew that we couldn't sustain this spending level with the wars and tax cuts. Now we face deficits to keep us out of the depression and the inevitable question as to when we stop them. People oblivious to what just happened still want tax cuts. 

 Pessimistic as I can be, I was not nearly as intelligently pessimistic as these guys who figured out how to bet against the economy, specifically with credit default swaps on collateralized debt obligations based on subprime mortgages. It can drive you nuts reading about this stuff but the terminolgy was the first step in the process to confuse people who were ignorant enough to be on the losing side. Many of the investment banks also fell in this category themselves. 

Not knowing these specifics, I did know things seemed exuberantly irrational. It is progressive in nature to read about these financial guys. And  I do think the amiable side of me is growing a bit as I soften on politics and preconceived ideas, and get nearer what I trust to be some kind of truth. It's a truth about one particular aspect of our lives that has always been fascinating to me. At least this subject is much less rancorous than politics, but less amiable than say, bowling. People who need help with resumes and job applications where I work seem surprisingly more amiable as a group. Individuals can be very desparate though. I am lucky to have the job I have and I know it.

Basically, the world is never what we think it is, but more like Plato saw it. We see shadows of reality on the wall of the cave.