How many of my friends know what a schlemiel or a schlimazel is? These two words came up quite frequently in my youth. The simple explanation I received to help me understand the difference between the two is as follows (btw, mazel mean “luck” in Yiddish):
A schlemiel is a person who, while walking through a large, mostly empty dining room with a bowl of hot soup, nevertheless manages to spill the soup. A schlemazel is the person on whom the soup lands, perhaps the only one in the entire room.
So there I was, minding my own business, living my best life when all of a sudden this old guy snuck up behind me and took over my body. I don’t think I can kick him out, either. Maybe some day, but it will probably be fatal. Tis a bother.
You may find I will be harping a bit on this subject. You see, I’ve never been this old before and I’m learning how to be a senior, or an old fart. I’m not used to it. I find it interesting that I look far older in pictures than I do in the mirror. Why is that? (Don’t answer; it’s rhetorical.)
My buddy, Steve, treated me to a screening of Top Gun Maverick on Saturday for my birthday. Ironically, a day or two earlier, in response to a question posed on Twitter asking what fictional death affected me, I commented with a pic of Anthony Edwards as “Goose.” There have been quite a few, but his death in Top Gun really tore me up.
I’m hardly a movie critic, but I’ll offer this. My Fitbit HR5 measures my heart rate (among other things) and “awards” me points for a couple different levels of exertion. Although I was sitting still the entire movie, except for the occasional gulping of beer or munching of buttered popcorn, my tracker recorded about 50 minutes of an elevated heart rate. Make what you will of that.
I recommend the movie, but don’t listen to me. I’m a sucker for fast planes and dogfights — and vicarious emotional scarring.
While cleaning out the remaining drawer from a really nice solid wood dresser I purchased when I was living in Playa del Rey around forty years ago and gave to Aimee to use in her bedroom, I found these. Psychedelic Republicans.
Subtitled “Seriously Groovy Trading Cards”, these cards were distributed in three different packs of 8 cards each. The card fronts show purple-haze inspired altered caricatures, and card backs give parody facts. I’ve never opened them, so I have no idea what most of them look like.
The red pack is Series 1, which contains: George W. Bush, Orrin Hatch, Lynne Cheney, William Rehnquist, Trent Lott, Richard Cheney, Laura Bush, and Colin Powell.
The blue pack is Series 2, which contains: Jesse Helms, Donald Rumsfeld, Antonin Scalia, Rush Limbaugh, Condoleezza Rice, Jeb Bush, Henry Hide, and John Ashcroft.
The yellow pack is Series 3, which contains : Karl Rove, Ann Coulter, Ari Fleischer, Katherine Harris, Clarence Thomas, Pat Robertson, Strom Thurmond, and Dan Quayle.
I found two complete sets offered for sale online for $100. Mine aren’t for sale … yet.
In my second year of law school I was able to secure a position with a sole practitioner in Beverly Hills. His name was Michael David Freeman and he hired me to be his legal secretary.
Although I had not done secretarial work before, I was a pretty good, fast, and accurate touch typist and I was doing well in school and kind of knew my way around the issues I would be dealing with.
MDF specialized in personal liability and property damage as the representative of three major car rental firms: Thrifty, Budget, and Dollar. He had previously been a C-level executive of one of them and had numerous connections.
We did some other work as well: a little contracts; some wills and trusts; and maybe a little family law. This was from (approximately) late ‘74 to late ‘76.
Shortly after I started working for him, he purchased an IBM memory typewriter and sent me to a one-day class in Century City to learn how to use the thing. It was my introduction to word processing, pretty much at the inception of the concept.
Between learning to skillfully use the device and sending out demand letters, discovery requests, and other miscellaneous documents, I sometimes riffed on the concepts I was conveying with a mix of facts and legal mumbo jumbo, and now and again would fire off a letter or two to friends … just for the fun of it.
Yesterday, while desperately searching for a document I needed in another context, I accidentally came across a couple of those letters. What follows is one of them I sent to my long-time, dear friend Loren.
This is kind of a #FlashbackFriday – #FF, since I missed #ThrowbackThursday – #TT, though it’s more of just an addition to my life story as made possible through the wonders of Facebook and, especially, the Timeline. Since its inception, I have seen my Timeline as a way to share contemporaneously, as well as retrospectively. I have used it as a way to share both my present and my past, the latter being primarily with the thought my two daughters will one day be able to see who I was, in some sense from the beginning. If others enjoy it, that’s a bonus. Hell – I enjoy it myself once in a while and it gives me a reason to slowly digitize some of my favorite actual, printed photos, which would not be shareable other than in person if I didn’t scan and post them. This seems like as good a place as any; better than most.
The picture I am here sharing was taken quite some time after I owned the business that resided in this small, unassuming space. Nevertheless, the size and location haven’t changed since January of 1967, when my father (fearing I was on the road to becoming a bum) purchased what was then DEB’s Snack Shop and I began managing it. We were partners. My job was to spend 14 hours a day there and his job was to show up once a day and get pissed at me for something I neglected to do or didn’t do properly, as he saw it. He was very good at his job and so was I, though you wouldn’t have known it by how well he performed his special task.
This little place consisted of 14 stools and about a 10′ takeout counter. It sat in a parking lot across the street from the main entrance of the May Company store on Hill St., between 8th and 9th Streets, in downtown Los Angeles. It was small, but it was busy . . . and quite lucrative, especially for a nineteen-year-old who had recently just barely escaped High School.
It was here I learned some of the more valuable lessons I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from. Perhaps the most important of them was given by my father when he admonished me to never ask anyone who worked for me to do something I wasn’t willing to do as well. I had five employees and every one of them was older than me, one by around thirty years. Earning their respect was of the utmost importance. Now that I think about it, I was fortunate to be raised with respect for most everyone. Another valuable lesson, which made this primary business one much easier to aspire to.
I also learned what I have always considered my first real marketing and sales lesson. This place was a snack shop. Hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, burritos, ham sandwiches, fries, etc. We also opened up early enough for breakfast, so eggs, bacon, hash browns, etc. Of course, there were other items and most of the food was marked up 300%, that is the cost of the food item was generally 1/3 of the price we charged.
Then there were soft drinks, none of which were served in cans or bottles. We had a dispenser. The cost of a large soft drink was marginally more than a small one and the difference in cost of the cups was about a penny. The difference in profit, however, was spectacular, with the price of a large drink around two and a half times what the small one went for. I think it was $0.10 and $0.25. Let’s say I made $0.07 (in today’s money that would be $0.50) profit from the small drink. Since the cost of the large drink was marginally more than the small – let’s say $0.05 instead of $0.03 – I made a profit of $0.20 ($1.42 today) on the large drinks.
That’s the data behind it, but the real lesson was in behavior. Over a period of time, I did some experimenting. I didn’t keep a little notebook, nor did I design a devilishly clever test. People would place an order like “I’d like a cheeseburger, onion rings, and a Coke.” I merely responded in one of two ways and noted the difference in results. If I asked them “large or small” they would frequently opt for the small. However, if I merely said “large?”, they would seldom say “no”.
I don’t know how much more money I made by doing this, but I’m reasonably certain it was on the order of a few dollars a day. Extrapolated out over a year’s time, that would be around an extra couple of grand in today’s money. Not a bad result. Unfortunately, I didn’t last a year, but that’s another story. I have no regrets, btw.
PS – The name of the place in the pic is JEMP’s, which stood for Jerry, Eileen, Marshall, and Penny . . . the Silversteins. Jerry, who had worked at the Grand Central Market with my father for many years, bought the business at a discount when I kind of abruptly told the old man I was through with it. Shortly thereafter I found myself in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. This was the Summer of Love, 1967. The rest, as you no doubt know, is history.
I was going through my Mac, which is now a backup computer for my HP laptop, which is being repaired because the hard drive died on me, and came across a limerick I wrote in December of 2013. Thought I would share it here, in addition to Facebook and Twitter. You’ll easily recognize the subject:
Fox newscasts, so chock full of hate Render truth an impervious gate They so often dissemble We can’t help but tremble With hope they will soon meet their fate
I came across this interesting tweet from Texas Senator Ted Cruz (the Federal Government’s most reviled human being) and was inspired to pen a limerick in response. It was actually embedded in a response from someone I follow, so I had to go through a couple dozen tweets of his before I could find the original, which I’m sharing below.
I should point out that Senator Cruz may be the most disingenuous, execrable member of the Senate since Joseph McCarthy represented the State of Wisconsin, that wonderfully cheesy part of the nation that has gifted us Senator Ron Johnson, another worthless POS. Reading through a series of tweets by Senator Cruz was a bit disconcerting, as his ability (and willingness) to flat-out lie about almost everything is one of his strongest and most defining characteristics. I felt dirty after reading some of them.
So I spent about a half hour writing the limerick which appears beneath Tedward’s tweet. This included using a site for rhyming and, ending each line with a Spanish word in order to convey the meaning I wished to, which was—shall we say—an interesting endeavor.
There once was a displaced Cubano Who fancied himself a Tejano His efforts were juegos Cause he lacked normal huevos Plus we know he’s a fucking gusano.
Nearly five years ago it had been decades since I lived with a dog. My last “good boy” was a Rottweiler who had been given to me by a girlfriend. She didn’t have the strength or know-how to handle him and she decided he would be better off with someone who could manage his size and strength and had some experience training dogs.
His full name was Kavon Heinse of Stoneflower. The first two names came from his lineage; he was a pedigreed dog and ended being the last one I would ever have. I just called him Heinse, and we spent a few years together before an inoperable lesion on his spine paralyzed him and I had no choice but to have him euthanized. It was a traumatic experience and, because I couldn’t bring myself to have another dog in my life for the longest time, it really affected me emotionally.
Fast forward about forty years and Angel, our rescue pup, came into my and my family’s life. With her, I remembered just how wonderful and special it is to have a dog to love and be loved by. Angel has come to fill a hole I wasn’t even aware I was living with. She also provides me with an “affection sponge,” giving me someone I can hug and kiss who won’t grow out of it as my children have.
I happen to be sitting out in the backyard the other day and Alyssa started playing with Angel. I had forgotten they had this stalking game they did and, as it was unfolding, I decided to take this video. This is one of the many things that make having a dog so special, IMO.
NB: I can’t figure out why the link, but not the embedded video, is showing up here. I’ll keep trying to figure it out but if you click on it, you can see the vid I posted.
Since my retirement from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2010, I have spent quite a bit of energy on developing work as a social media marketer for small business, a business manager for an AI software development firm, and as an editor/proofreader for a number of business books and a couple of novels, as well as a two-year return engagement at Rocketdyne from 2015 to 2017.
I have decided to stop actively pursuing business in these fields and am now positioning myself to be a writer. I have done quite a bit of writing over the years, but I’ve never really attempted to make any money at it; at least not specifically. I’m starting out with a couple of memoirs and, currently, I’m studying the craft, creating a detailed outline and timeline, and honing my skills as a storyteller. Pretty sure I’ll be writing some fiction as well.
The views expressed herein are those of the author. Any opinions regarding the value or worth of particular business processes, tools, or procedures, whether at his former place of employment, at a current client's enterprise, or in general, are his responsibility alone.