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Funny Messy Life

80 EpisodesProduced by Michael BlackstonWebsite

Stories about life, relationships, and culture delivered in a way that will help brighten your day or at least make you ask, "What is he smokin'?" But don't worry. It's all in good fun and it's family friendly. I'm Michael Blackston and these are tales from my blog - in audio form - all based on rea… read more

18:23

Take This Job And Shove It - 066

   Today, I’ll tell you that I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m blessed to get to do what I do for a living, and although the road getting here was long and winding, frequently taking turns onto dark and unfamiliar lanes, I can definitely track God’s plan. Some of those lanes got bumpy though, and those were never long. I’m going to tell you about a road along my career path that only lasted a couple weeks, and one that only lasted a few months, but both share a single common fact … I was not cut out for them.

   I’m Michael Blackston and at the time of this writing, the country is going through a new pandemic called an employee shortage, which is what prompted me to tell you a few new stories about my own work history during my Funny Messy Life.

_________________________

 

   Like I said, at this writing, the United States has a huge problem. Nobody wants to work because they’re getting free unemployment money from the government. There are two types of people in this scenario …

 

  1. Those who are willing to work because they can and have enough integrity, self-worth, and, by glory, intelligence to know that a society needs its people to pull their weight. 
  2. Those who COULD work, but instead will ride this wave of political stupidity, with their lips suckled firmly around the government teat, as long as their fat, lazy, sorry, no-good, trashy selves can ……… not that I’m judging.

 

   I do understand that there are those who legitimately require government assistance to survive for whatever reason. I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about the mush-brained, crawled out from under a rock, scum of the earth, pond scum that have no excuse, and have brought the country to a halt because they refuse to go back to work until they have to. They know who they are, and they don’t care.

   But that’s not even what I wanted to talk about here. And now that my rant is over, I can get back to the stories that are adorable little islands in the middle of Lake Me.

   The problem with my work history is that I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, I’ve always wanted to work for myself, largely because I get a lot more done when I’m the boss of me than when someone else is the boss of me. That’s why until I found etching, I never stayed at one place for more than 2 years.

   I can’t remember for sure, but that might be the amount of time I worked for the Walmart portrait studio in the mid 1990s. It wasn’t the worst job I ever had, but I didn’t really enjoy it, especially when it came to the selling part. I was working there when I got married and I began to think that I needed to make more of an income than the weekly block of cheap, moldy cheese and half bag of oats it felt like that job paid me.

   My stepdad was working for a motorcycle place in town and there was an opening, so he put in a good word for me. It was all commission sales, but the potential to make a better income was there, so I took the opportunity and quit blowing bubbles to make babies smile. It was also nice to not have to take the same photos every month for a woman that kept coming in to try and get headshots, but always made this wide-eyed extreme face like Dracula if you open his coffin in the daylight and he’s naked.

   There was an inherent problem with me selling motorcycles, though. For one to adequately and effectively sell motorcycles, it helps to actually know something about motorcycles. I mean even one thing would be nice. I knew then, and pretty much still do now, exactly zero things about motorcycles. I think they’re cool and all, but I’m afraid of them. Moreover, I’m afraid of the lack of respect a lot of other drivers have for them.

   When a potential customer came in and I had to try to sell them this metal horse with the potential of untold power they could wield under them, I had nothing to give. Actually, the power was very much told. I just didn’t know the details. And the customer could tell it immediately. That job was horrible for me because I realized at that moment in my life that in order for somebody to be the best salesperson they can be, there must be at least the slightest interest and belief in the thing they’re trying to sell.

   On top of the skyscraper of cards stacked against me the very second I first walked through the doors, was the personality of the owner. He was from New York, or New Jersey. I can’t recall which, but he had the accent to go with it, and the countenance. I love my northern brethren. I think we can learn a lot from each other, but just as there is a difference between a Good ol’ boy, a Redneck, and Inbred Mouth Breathers, there are levels of culture above the Mason-Dixon Line. There are Those Who Hail From The North, there are Yankees, and there are DANG Yankees. If you’re in the category of Those Who Hail From The North, You’ll typically visit the southern states with some respect. If your ways are of interest to one of us, you’ll gladly explain it in a mutual dance of culturally enlightening gooeyness. The plain old Yankee has good intentions, but from to time, will forget that they’ve entered a realm where the southern drawl is as thick and syrupy as the sugar in our tea. They have a difficult time getting their heads around the fact that Grit isn’t just a sandy kind of substance that gets between your toes when you’re walking barefoot, but also a term for a starch that can be served on a plate in a myriad of delicious ways. Still, they get that it’s an “us” thing and they can leave it off their order. The Dang Yankee doesn’t care that you have your own culture in a particular region. They think you should be throwing parties because they finally deemed you worthy of coming to your area to teach you savages the ways of the intelligent man. He scoffs at your attempts to say hello, even if you don’t know him. He sneers at your grits on the menu and makes snide comments about them to the serving staff. He calls you names like, Yokel, Idiot, and In-bred Mouth Breather. He’s not always wrong, but he also doesn’t keep it to himself. He wants to bring his culture down here and burn yours to the ground like Sherman marching to the sea. The word “Dang” might be replaced with a variety of more colorful words depending on the culture level of the person saying it. This guy was a caricature in every sense of the word. He was a Dang Yankee. When somebody who doesn’t spend a lot of time in the breadbasket of New York culture, they send to go with the loud, neurotic Italian persona, and this guy hit that mark to the hilt.

   Remember when I said I don’t like to be “bossed”? I don’t like to be bossed. This guy was the owner, so he had the right and obligation to boss me, but he took it to a whole different level, or at least different from what we’re used to here in the south. He took it to Dang Yankee level. Allow me to dramatize a particular scene that really happened. And this will be nearly word for word.

 

   (The scene opens with Michael bent low beside a motorcycle, polishing the chrome. He is alone in the store, except for a couple of other employees. There are no customers either inside, or outside. I repeat, there are NO customers. The boss enters the showroom and, without slowing pace as he heads toward the door to leave, shouts to Michael.)

   BOSS.   Hey, Mike! How’s about you sell somethin’?

   MIKE.   There are no customers either inside, or outside. I repeat, there are NO customers!

   BOSS.   I don’t wanna hear excuses. Sell somethin’!

   (End scene)

 

   That happened and that was his mentality. It was something to that effect every day, so after a few months of working for a man who thought he was The Godfather, and making little to no money, I left for the golden promise of fortune in the loan business. I tell all about that in episode 23, titled The Loan Man.

   I just don’t do well with management that refuses to be logical. I can handle a competent boss. I worked for a little under a year as a locksmith under a boss who loved his employees and treated us like family. He died recently, and I didn’t know it until well after the funeral. It’s a shame. I liked to go back into the shop every once in a while just to say hello.

   I did have one bad experience that turned into a tasty bite of You Get What You Deserve sandwich.

   There was a tiny independent fast food restaurant where I lived called, Katherine’s Kitchen. Back in the day, it was famous for its fresh, made from scratch biscuits. There were a couple of ladies in the back that cooked them, and there was some kind of special southern ju-ju they put into the dough. They were amazing biscuits, and people lined up to order. A normal morning was busy, and it always took someone on the outside walking from car to car taking orders so they didn’t get backed up. But I on Saturday mornings during college football season when the Clemson Tigers were the home team, the line was all the way out of the drive way and into the road, and it stayed that way for hours. Saturday mornings at Katherine’s Kitchen would have given a Chick-fil-A crew a run for its money.

   I had worked there for a week, so I was still a rookie, when I met a certain manager for the first time. He’d been on vacation when I started, and I had already worked one Saturday morning shift. My first day meeting him was on a Friday. We did not hit it off. He was a sloppy, ignorant, loudmouth of a guy, who must have been extremely insecure around me, because he wasted no time throwing his considerable weight around. Nothing he said to me was in a kind way. He didn’t even behave like a drill sergeant who runs you hard because he’s honing you like steel on steel. No, this guy was a belligerent blowhard who had someone under his authority and he liked to be a bully. 

   I took it for the first day, but dreaded going in to work the next morning. Clemson was playing a home game and it would be insane. I didn’t know if I could take his bullying as silently as I had the day before.

      He wasn’t that bad before the doors opened. He was gruff and I could tell he was waiting for the perfect time to pounce, but he apparently meant to do his work in front of an audience. The second the doors opened and the line formed, he began his game. He would insult me in front of customers, berate me for things I had no part in, and smile to the customers the whole time, as if to say, Hey, look at how big a boy I am. I can bully dudes.

   I took it for about an hour before I’d had enough. What this guy didn’t understand was that because one of our other workers had called in sick, the last thing he wanted would be for me to leave an entire Saturday morning Clemson football crowd to be handled by himself.

   As I took an order from a man decked head to toe in orange and purple, yet distinguished, like he might be watching the game from a private box, my manager stood behind me and began to make fun of the way I was taking the order, for no reason. The orange and purple man didn’t appreciate it any more than I did, and he told me so. 

   “I wouldn’t take that from that moron,” he told me.

   “I need the work,” I probably said back.

   “It ain’t worth all that. I’d leave him with it if her does it again.”

   A few seconds later, the manager returned with a fresh set of insults. Each successive one worse than the last. His grin widened more each time as well. The orange and purple man gave me a look that required I do something about it. I got the sense that the orange and purple man knew something about power and standing up for one’s self. It gave me wings and I turned around to face my manager.

   “One more insult, and I’m walking out. I’ll leave you with this to handle on your own.”

   He laughed at me. He needed to show the crowd, who was watching intently now, to see how this pre-game entertainment might play out, that he wasn’t scared of little old Michael.

   I turned back around to face the customers and continue with their orders, when I heard something from behind me. He’d tested me and mocked me again. The orange and purple man stared through me. Time to put up, or shut up, boy. I silently took my name tag off my Katherine’s Kitchen shirt and laid it down on the counter.

   “I’m sorry folks, but your orders will take a while longer now.” I turned around to the manager, who was still wearing a smile for the moment. I’m gone,” I said. “It’s all yours.”

   “What?! You can’t do that? I can’t handle all these orders!”

   “Good luck,” I answered, heading for the front door. The orange and purple man grinned and gave me a wink and nod.

   “You came back here. You can’t just leave me here. They’ll fire you!”

   I pointed to the counter where I had laid my name tag and his eyes widened as he realized this was actually happening.

   “You can’t fire somebody who’s already quit,” I explained and walked out. 

   I’m not certain, but i think I might have heard a spattering of applause, ever so light, from beyond the door. I didn’t look back. I didn’t think that’s how the orange and purple man would have handled things.

   Years later, I ordered at a chain restaurant drive thru. I didn’t recognize the voice on the intercom, nor the guy at the window. He was that forgettable. But he recognized me just as he handed me the bag of food. If he’d recognized me while it was being made, I might not have taken it for fear of what he might have done to it. As he handed over, his eyes widened, just as they had when I pointed to my name tag. 

   “It’s you!”

   I still didn’t know who he was. Better people had passed before my memory than him. “Do I know you?”

   “You left me at Katherine’s Kitchen to run it alone, you S.O.B.!”

   I laughed. Now I remembered him. “Oh yeah. About that, you know what? … I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” And I drove away. Smiling from ear to ear.

   I hope that guy has grown up and changed the way he treats people. And I wish I could have gotten to know the orange and purple man. Something tells m e he had a lot to give in the way of doing life. I thank him though, for that one lesson. I don’t let people run all over me anymore.

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