Moving Day

Standard

I use the term “Moving Day” probably as much as I make references to the Emperor’s New Clothes (see my last post) to reference that tipping point when whatever the result is will come true that day.  For work purposes, it most likely will be a Wednesday of a week long audit – the day when you either make or break the result.  Since today is a Wednesday, you could think I am writing exactly about that … but I am writing about something far more cynical.

In Boston, today is actually Moving Day in a very literal sense.

By that, I mean, today is the day that a very large percentage of Boston is moving from one residence to another.

This is not an exaggeration!

The City of Boston estimates that 70% of residential leases begin on September 1st, 2016.  That means nearly 3 of 4 people who rent their residence will have a new lease tomorrow.  For many, this means a new place to live, or leaving their old place to live.  The start of something new, or the end of something old.

For the rest of us, that just means there is a hell of a lot of moving trucks and new cars parked in our spots.  Below is a heat map created by the City of Boston showing ONLY the moving truck permit requests — not just those who rented moving trucks, or went full on Jed Clampet to strap their mattresses, couches, and grannies to someone’s truck.

moving truck

My street barely shows up as a color on this map, and we have at least three residents that asked for a moving truck permit … and at least three more moving trucks stuffing up the street.

It’s actually quite a popular time as well for the tow trucks.  Because there is no place ot park in Boston … like literally no place to park … the above mentioned mover permits are a means for moving companies to block off parts of the street where it is ‘temporarily’ illegal to park so they can get in to do the moving.  This means, tow trucks make a fortune off of all the people who try to cut those zones a little too close.  I woke up twice last night to the sound of trucks pulling in to haul off a car, at times JUST past midnight.  I haven’t seen that level of tow jackassary since the first day of ‘snow parking’ up in Houghton, MI where they hauled 150 cars off of a campus that only had 350 registered car parkers.

Just on that, you would think that I am not a fan of moving day … well, that’s no the half of it.  We are in the phase that can be considered the period where Douchery Rules.  When you move to a new place (if you have ever) there are things you have to get used to logistically — like where to park, where to best get out of your neighborhood, how to get to work, where to let your dog poop … you know, the usual.  In those situations, there are two types of people — those who are careful knowing that things may not be how they expect so they take things calmly are carefully figuring it all out.  Then there is the minority that assume everything will be perfect and overcome any issues by becoming a complete douche bag. You stomp on the gas to get through an intersection, you honk the horn because someone is following local traffic laws, you park in the middle of the street and block people in, you dump your garbage on the curb anywhere, you become genuinely obnoxious.  There maybe only 1 of you in 10, but that 1 rules … you are the one that screws things up for the rest of us.  You are the one that continues to be a douche bag until you figure out being an idiot doesn’t make things any better.  And the rest of us suffer.

Honestly … that’s why I hate moving day.  And this is only the second one I have seen.

Now you maybe still confused by this whole concept.  Thinking there is no way that one city has 70% of their leases start on the same day.  Well, Boston is a college town – not just Harvard, MIT, Boston College, & Boston University which you probably expected … but also UMass-Boston, Tuffs, Wesley, Berklee, offshoots of other major New England Schools, and so many close in surrounding communities that the area boasts 54 (that’s a fifty-four) institutes of higher education in the area  with over 235,000 students enrolled — which is 35% of the city’s population.  So no wonder the start of the school year begins with a new place.  Just think what it is like to have 1 out of 3 people surrounding you is an college idiot … and you will get what these days are like.

Soon enough it will all calm down.  Those who are moving to be students will have their classes to start failing, and the rest of the douche bags will get their stuff worked out at the local gym.

The rest of us, it’s just moving day, and it will go sooner or later.

The Emperor’s New Burger

Standard

Shaking off the cobwebs of a grinder of a summer, I remembered that I hadn’t posted a new entry for a while.  So after contemplating a lunch I had with one of the few people I work with who has made active mention of the Bear Feed (I’m talking about you Ritchie), I thought that lunch could lead to a concept that I have been chewing over the last few days.

It starts with the story about The Emperor’s New Clothes.  This is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that they don’t see any suit of clothes until a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

I cite this story a fair bit, at least in my own head, when trying to challenge things that are based on other’s opinions.  You get it a lot these days, probably as much in politics than anything, but I don’t come here to blog about politics.  I tend to challenge these concepts a lot because I’m not someone who likes taking anyone’s opinion on anything I can’t believe for myself.  I find myself saying something like “Is it that way because it is that way?  Or is it that way because someone told me it was that way?”  Proud of my own cynical mindset, I pat myself on the back, call myself smart, then solve all the world’s problems in my head.

Then there I was at lunch, and I caught myself on the other side of the issue.

We went to Ted’s – a famous burger joint in Meriden, CT.  It’s been on shows like “Man vs. Food” and been listed in the top 50 burger places in the country by the Food Network.  What makes it famous is the way they cook the food there.  Ground beef is placed into rectangular trays and placed into a steamer to cook.  When it’s ready, the meat is still juicy because none of the fat fries off.  Cheese gets the same treatment and is literally melted and poured directly onto the burger until is ooey gooey’s up on top.  I got mine with a side of home fries, which was baked and gently fried potato wedges.  Being a burger of such high proclaim, you expect it to be really good.  As I was having the burger I kept thinking how much the unique cooking method of everything added something special that put this burger up there with such high acclaim.  The cheese in all it’s gooeyness didn’t hide the flavor of the meat with it’s cheesy flavor.  The beef took to an extra bit of salt and a good bit of mustard really well.  The fries had that starchy potato taste like right after you give it a good cut.  I walked out of lunch today satisfied that I had such a well renowned burger.

That’s when it hit me …

The cheese didn’t hide the meat’s flavor because … well … it didn’t have much of a flavor.

Come to think of it, neither did the meat.  When you steam a burger like that, you can’t put any seasoning on it – so it really tasted bland.  Not in a bad way, just … not favorable.

And if I was making potatoes at home, and it tasted starchy like those home fries tasted, I would wonder if I actually cooked them thru.

That’s when it sunk in on me.  It wasn’t a bad meal.  It’s a reasonably priced lunch in a neat little joint, with a cool way of doing the old stuff in a good way.  If given the option to go back, I would go back to Ted’s.  It just wasn’t … I don’t know … not ‘Top 50 burgers in the USA’ good.

So why did, during lunch, I started thinking I had one of the best burgers in my life?

Come to think about it … what is the best burger I had in my life?

Then I really started thinking … does it really matter what is the best or not?

What the realization all came down to was that I was noticing how judgmental all of this can be.  It seems like, sometimes we get so caught up in what our opinions are, we want then to make it about how others opinions aren’t as important as ours.  We get angry, frustrated, over zealous.  Then we try to impress that on others in hopes that we will convince them to see things our way – but all it really does it creates more pushback, more anger, more hate.

Then I realized … It’s just a burger, and Ritchie paid for it anyway.

The Canadian Spin

Standard

Co-Worker: “I don’t know why you are so positive all the time, all you ever seem to do is smile.”
Me: “Positive all the time? You should see my Facebook posts.”

I once had a on-line friend whom we shall call Frosty. and the only real important thing to know about her is that she is Canadian.  She had this crazy knack to take all the fun out of being miserable.  I remember one particular day this way:  Work sucked, some things I wanted didn’t go my way.  I wanted nothing more than to get home and forget about work.  Along the way, it seemed I hit every stop light and fell behind every slow driver.  I finally got home, and someone I wanted to talk to was no longer available.  I also vaguely remember I got some bills that were going to be tough to pay right away.  In short, there was a lot of things in my life I was pissed off about.

So Frosty reaches out to me and says:  “So, my boss and I went to lunch today, and as we were sitting in a restaurant, a car crashed through the front window.  Came within 5 feet of hitting me.  I almost died.  But … meh … no big deal.  How was your day?”

All I could respond with was … well … with nothing.  Cause as much as I wanted to hate my day, I didn’t get almost run over eating lunch.  But that was Frosty.  Granted, she wasn’t a ray of sunshine all the time, but she had this knack of putting my troubles in perspective.

Back in my early days at Cessna, we called that the Canadian Spin.  It was a term penned from my first Cessna boss, Jason Zagula, whom I put up there with the best bosses I ever had.  He was, of course, Canadian – and like my friend Frosty, had the great skill of looking at the most troubling of situations and ‘spin it’ to the positive.  The most obvious came when I was called into the first meeting to tell us that layoffs were coming.  As all of us were slowly moping our way out of that meeting with the cloud of losing our jobs over our head, he said “Well, they do say you should live in interesting times, and this will make our times interesting.”

These days, I can say those roles are now reversed.  Over the last five weeks, plants in my company went trough some of their most trying times – and my job was to get them through it, come hell or high water.  It’s that specific reason why I haven’t posted a meaty blog post for most of the last 5 weeks … key phrase is ‘posted’, I drafted some, but couldn’t be sure if that would turn into things that wouldn’t be use me in a court of law (no, seriously … I am saying —  court … of … law).   It has been a grind to say the least, a meat grinder of sorts.  But my role, more than anything, was to be that part that remains positive.

Granted, not always.  My duty was to define to my management the real situation, that many times meant being blunt about the problems and direct about the changes that needed to be made.  Also, I had to be realistic about what I was seeing; being the person who states facts as much as being the person who shows what needs to be done.

But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you the doom and gloom was everywhere.  A bad result anywhere could mean we would lose work, a lot of work – which would mean we lose people, and a very real risk an entire plant could be shut down.  Around me were the people who were sure that was going to happen.  Deep down, I knew that the possibility was there, but there is a difference in my mind between a ‘possibility’ and a ‘likelihood’.   So, in my own blunt honesty, I made sure it was known that those who saw no light at the end of tunnel that there was in deed a light.  After weeks of taking that attitude at different plants, that got me the reputation of an optimist.

Believe me, I am no optimist.

Though, sometimes that is all it takes to pull out the Canadian Spin.  I didn’t believe that layoffs were more promising because my life was more interesting; but I realized that my life was more than a layoff, or more than a plant shutdown.  Though it was a more realistic statement to those I was around.  I have a very demanding dog to come home to every day.  Those around me had wife and kids – had serious hobbies – had other important stuff around them – had real lives.  I found myself talking to them about those things, getting them to remember that was what was important.  Like Frosty when she reminded me that life wasn’t about getting a few bad stoplights, it was enjoying your lunch without someone running you over INSIDE a restaurant.  Life is not work.  Life is what work allows you to do.  That may have been my job to remind the rest of the people I work with about, but it was also my job to remind myself.

Call it Canadian Spin, but I am at least a few generations separated from those maple sucking bastards.