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Archive for June, 2013

June 26, 2013

Dear Sir,

It has come to my attention that you have been downright reckless in your treatment of those working under you. In fact, there are daily reports that you have let some have jobs that they had absolutely no business being assigned. You knew that that they had little training in the very area of their new responsibilities.

You have also taken severe risks with the capital of the company. You’ve let billions out the door on what seems to be a whim. How can you justify allowing so many employees to judge for themselves as to what to do with such vast resources? Any business professor would flunk you for such liberality.

Furthermore, I have come to learn that you’ve cast visions for people and then let them run with it without thinking about the consequences of them mishandling that very vision.

I have worked under you for many years and I’ve labored to minimize risks by hedging my bets, conserving wherever I could, being guarded on how much responsibility to hand out to questionable underlings and being vigilant to build up reserves to mitigate downturns.

I have gotten in the habit of saying, “No,” to reduce the chance of losing what was so hard to come by and I have managed to create a fairly safe division to protect your investment. I’m doing all of this for you.

Then I hear that your recent meetings have been filled with dreams and aspirations about expansion and freedom…that you actually sent one guy out to a territory he didn’t even know how to pronounce and another gentlemen was sent BACK to his own land. How could I hope to control my employees with this kind of philosophy floating from the top down to us?

As an employee, I know this is rather bold. But, at least I’m being honest.

You are audacious, uncurbed and reckless. You are God.

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Decisions, Decisions

So I was driving with my sister down the Garden State Parking Lot (a.k.a. Garden State Parkway) and we’re in the Express Lanes…and we’re puttering…at maybe 20 miles per hour…did I say puttering…did I say “Express?”

O.K., O.K., I know it’s the first sunny day this Spring since Noah first got on his cruiser. Even some of his pets probably wanted to go to the Jersey shore on this picture perfect 80-degree Saturday. We Jerseyites expect weekend traffic. Except for one thing: the non-express lane is motoring along at 70 mph. This must be Jersey. Everything is backwards.

Being that my brilliant mind is going faster than my car, I notice a crossover at Exit 116. I make my Jersey-like move across 18 lanes to get over to the “Local Exits” freeway. Just as I pull into the Local, it begins to slow to a crawl. Just my luck. But that’s not all. I look over to the Express Lane where I had just risked our lives to leave and it suddenly and spitefully starts loosening up to where people are speeding along.

No, I didn’t fume. I’m from Jersey. We can take anything. (I come from the same stock where billboards and ad campaigns proclaim that “We’re stronger than the storm” in reference to Hurricane Sandy.)

Somehow, sitting in traffic stirs up deep thoughts. I began thinking about decisions. I started to play with the passing thought that it had entered my mind back in Perth Amboy to stay out of the Express Lane to begin with. But then, at Exit 116, I would have been thinking that I should have been in the Express Lane. Deep, deep thoughts, indeed.

My mind did eventually come around to decisions I make every day and to decisions that have changed my life. The good, the bad and the ugly and the extremely profound. How was I to know as a seven-year old fan that the New York Mets could cause me so much pain over these fifty years?

Why did I ever go out with that cheerleader in high school? She was pretty, but we broke up.

I bought Apple, but I didn’t sell it at $700?

A friend of mine who happened to be a multi-Pulitzer-Prize winner once sublimely and kindly tried to make me feel better about some career decisions I made that seemed to keep me away from my love of writing. “Bob,” he said, “it’s like there are two boats taking different routes, but they somehow make it to the same harbor.”

Can life really be all about which lane you choose?

Continuing to berate myself for all of the bad decisions I’ve ever made since I was in utero, I notice that the Express Lane has slowed to a crawl and someone behind is beeping at me because my mind is on decision-making and not on the fact that our Local Lane is now moving to the more norm for New Jersey: anywhere between 100-150 mph in the slow lane. 

I step on it. My car barely moves. Oh, that’s right. I made the decision to buy a hybrid instead of a more appropriate New Jersey race car. It feels so slow. It saves gas. 

As I get off Exit 100B, I realize that I’ve made pretty good time for a summer Saturday at the Joisey shore. 

I’m not really sure how I did it, but I guess I made the right decision.

And these many years later, my friend’s insight about boats and harbors and decisions eventually working themselves out seems to have been a bit prophetic. After all, I am now writing. It might have gotten stuck in some sea traffic, but it appears my ship has come in.  

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POINT PLEASANT: THE NEW JERSEY SHORE

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Bloopers Make Perfect

The first time I saw a blooper was after The Pink Panther movie with Peter Sellers. I almost died laughing.

In the movies, they can laugh at their errors because they get to do another take. Not so in life. 

What if we could roll back time and watch our mistakes? Some are now thinking that they would die – and not from laughing.

Yet, a faux pas can have a blooper-like quality when Father Time is behind the camera. We all sit around the table and say, “Remember that time when you…” And we laugh. 

If you are the type to dwell and ramble through the should-have-could-have scenarios, you should at least take some comfort in knowing that those same regrets may have been the first-takes for some subsequent “wraps.” 

I can’t think of one athlete who always gets it right. They kick the turf or throw their batting helmet in the dugout. But seven batters later, they walk out onto the on-deck circle.

We allow for world leaders to do everything but hit the “nuke” button. We look the other way when a celebrity is in the news for all the wrong reasons.

But, when we make our error, it seems to be the only statistic up on the baseball scoreboard. 

There’s no call here to start living sloppy lives. Everyone from a bus driver to a pilot to a teacher to a business leader ought to take their life’s responsibilities seriously. 

However, when it’s time to roll the film on our blunders, it’s good to remember that Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times and hit some bloopers as well, some of which actually dropped in for a base hit.

 

BELOW: SOMEHOW, PEOPLE DON’T REMEMBER HIS BLOOPERS.

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BELOW: SURROUNDED BY BLOOPERS, THIS BABE IS ABOUT TO LAUGH AT HIS “CLOUT.”

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Certain people have signature hearts.

They write on your soul the way a good friend knows how to write on your Facebook wall; just the “write” things.

I have a “brother” who knows my heart. He knows the things that stir my core. His most recent home run was bringing someone who was feeling like he’d been in the dugout more than on the playing field to a Subway Series game for a belated birthday present.

He overlooks my propensity for being a Mets fan despite the fact that he’s a third generation pinstripes loyalist from the Bronx. Now that we’re adults, he can don his Yankee cap and I can wear my Mets visor and nobody gets hurt. In fact, diehards on the train from both sides of town looked at us incredulously because we also wore his signature smile.

The first thing he did was listen to me pout about feeling benched on the drive to the train station. He’s literally and figuratively in the “hearing” business. The next stop also tasted of his signature selflessness meaning that my Irish gumba took this paisan to an Italian restaurant for some great Chicken Saltimbocca. Knowing that I like waterfront, he made sure we got a table overlooking the Hudson.

Next stop: a train ride into the city. Boy, I felt like I was 12 years-old taking the subway to Shea Stadium. And in his signature style, he let me take a nap from too mucha’ a pasta.

When we got off at the “next-stop-Yankee-Stadium,” he took me straight to Monument Park which is just beyond the centerfield fence and is where all the plaques of some of the most famous names in the history of the game reside. And with his signature patience, he posed for me alongside another great adopted Italian, “The Bambino.” (See picture below.)

While we were basking amid all of this greatness, a shagger mercifully threw me a batting practice ball. In all my days at a ball field, I have never garnered one of them. In his signature humility, he would not accept the ball from me.

I looked around me to see all of the Hall of Famers staring back at me. There was DiMaggio, Berra, Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson to name a few. But turning toward my “brother,” I realized there was only one guy from the Bronx that I would ever want to sign that ball.

When he handed it back to me, I said, “Sign your last name, too.” He immediately let out a “Noooo!” His heart was written all over that ball with just his first name, the signature of a best friend: “Danny.”

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P.S. In his signature magnanimity, he also arranged for the Mets to finish their sweep of his team.

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