People Come Here On Vacation? (part 1)

My partner won a trip to Las Vegas through work for being the top in sales for the month.  I was excited, I hadn’t been to Vegas before and I was looking forward to seeing what the hubub was.  My position at work concluded a week prior to our leaving, both my partner and I were very stressed out so a vacation was just what the doctor ordered.  We were scheduled to leave on September 12th, and the timing just continued to work out because as it turns out a HUGE hurricane was covering the Gulf of Mexico and heading right for us.  Luckily, we were on one of the last flights out of Houston before the airport shut down.  We figured we’d be out of town long enough to miss the storm- the weekend – and return home Sunday night, not having anythign to worry about.  What follows is the unmitigated disaster that this trip was.

September 12th, Day One

The first sign that maybe this trip wouldn’t be so hot happened around 10am while on the flight.  I make it a point only to fly an airline who’s tagline is “Meals At Mealtime, What A Concept.”  Well the AirMattress…I’m sorry, Flight Attendant, gleefully informed us that “No, I’m sorry, for some reason they didn’t give us any food for this flight.  But I have peanuts!”

Lovely, peanuts, just what I want at 10am, thirty minutes into a flight.  By the way, has anyone else noticed that flights have become more and more like herding immigrants in 3rd class across the Atlantic?  I wonder when they’ll start offering us the option to pay for clean air in the cabin.  Anywho, that’s ok, I have a drink ticket.  It’s 10am, I’m on vacation, gimmie a damned screwdriver.  I read through most of my car magazine, get bored with a movie they show on the plane and bing bang boom, we’re in Vegas.

After waiting 30 minutes for our luggage in an airport which one can only describe as an optical insult of a neon orgasm, we go outside to grab a cab.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s some really cool looking neon signs in Downtown Vegas, but this airport looked like it should have an Auntie Anne’s and Tiffany singing “I Think We’re Alone Now” outside The Limited.

So there are these busses we can pay 10 bucks to take us to the hotel, that’s fantastic, I wanna get to Vegas as soon as possible!  We pay for our ticket and go to get on the bus, after our luggage is tossed into the back.

“No room.”

“What?”  I ask.

“There’s no room, you need to take another bus.”

“Well why’d you take our damned luggage?”  I ask.

The guy gets out, gets us our luggage and we walk back to the next bus.

“No room.”

“Oh you’ve GOT to be kidding me.”

“Well one of you can sit up front with me.”

My partner looks at me.

“Get on the damned bus.”

I was just getting warmed up in the dry Vegas heat when I stepped into an artic tundra of a Ford F-450 which was imbued with the scent of an 89 year old smoking jewish grandmother.  Whatever, we’re on our way….again.

“First stop, The Mirage.”

“NO!”  Sounds out a chorus of portly, and obviously drunk, businessmen in bad outfits and sandals with sox.  Jesus, Mary Iceskating Mother of God…get me off this bus.

“Sorry guys, I gotta go in order.”

“We’ll give you fifty bucks to take us to the Excaliber first!”

Excaliber?  Sounds stupid, maybe he will drop them off first.  We drive and drive, the airport is literally right next to the city, odd but yet conveniant.  Finally all of the drunken businessmen get off the bus at Excaliber.  My partner and I comment on what a dump it looks like and how we’re glad we’re not staying there.  We get dropped off at Planet Hollywood.  The hotel is fresh, new and beautiful…and also, very “us.”

We walk into the lobby, which is changing colors thanks to some hidden lights and sounds like I just walked into a warehouse club in NYC.  The check in line is quick and we get up to the counter.

“Hi, we’re checking in, the name is Meyer.”

“And did you pay for this using your Starwood points sir?”

“My company paid for it, I won the trip.”  My partner goes on.

“And your name sir?”

“Julius.”

“Oh. Ah.”  The pregnant woman hems and haws.  I’m already in a not so nice mood because I’m hungry and far from buzzed.

“What.”  I say.

“Well we have a reservation for a JULIE Meyer.  Who’s Julie.”

“There is no Julie.”  I say.

“What?”  She asks.

“His names JULIUS not Julie.”  Internally I’m laughing since the Vietnamiese place we eat at calls him Julie.

“Oh, well we have J-U-L-I-E.”  As if I can’t spell the damned name.

“Well clearly someone made a typo over the phone.”  My partner chimes in.

“I’m going to have to get my manager over here.”  She pregnantly waddles away, her business suit looks painfully uncomfortable.

“I’m gonna be pissed if it comes down to a typo.”  I say to Julius.

They come back, she stands by as he punches away at a keyboard.

“Where’s is Julie.”  He asks.  I feel like I’m in an episode of Law and Order; WHERE’S THE GIRL!  WHAT DID YOU DO WITH HER!

“There is no Julie, it’s a typo.”  I don’t get how Julius remains calm…then again, I’m hungry at this point and I don’t like people.

“Can’t you just change the name on the reservation, how else would we know the name of the company, who it was booked through and when it was supposed to occur?”

The two suits don’t say anything, finally he turns to the human incubator and says “give them the room anyway.”

Lovely.  The hotel is very nice – not my ideal, BUT a fantastic substitution.  We get up to the room, completely forgetting Planet Hollywood’s modus oporandi.

The key doesn’t work.  I’m ready to go home.  Julius tries the other key, which does work, we walk in.  The room is modern and clean with  beautiful and comfortable beds with Hotel Collection linens.  I drop my bag, Julius begins unpacking.

“Jule?”

“Yeah?”  He shouts from the bathroom.

“Why is like a hundred year old lifejacket on the wall?”

“Huh?”

“Come look at this!”

“What the hell?”

I go over to it and read a plaque next to it. “This Prop Was Used In James Cameron’s Titanic, blah blah blah.”

“We’re in the Titanic room?”

“The room’s are themed?”

I walk over to the window to get out of his way so he can see, and I trip on an oddly heavy endtable.  I look down.

“Oh look, china!”

The table isn’t a table, it’s a cylindrical case with a set of china from the film placed inside and lit up.

“I guess it’s the Titanic room.”  Julius says.

“Which would explain why there’s a huge picture of Leonardo DiCaprio over there.”  I point out the framed picture, which we missed before.

“I’m telling you, if this hotel starts to go down or flood, I’m not waiting for the call of women and children.  Maybe this is an omen of our vacation.”

We both laugh.  For now we laugh.

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Trapped In Vegas

So we are trapped in Vegas.  We left for Vegas on Friday, just before the big storm hit Houston, now IAH (our airport) is shut down, and there’s talks of Continental not resuming flights for 10 days.  We had NO idea it was that bad.  I’ve suggested driving back to Houston, but my partner has pointed out that with no electricity and no water pressure, what’s the point.  Then I suggested flying from Vegas to New York and staying with my family out there.  My partner poo poo’d that idea on the basis of expense.

On the plus side, Reliant stadium was damaged pretty baddly…my car was parked over there, and the stadiums roof was ripped so I’m hoping it landed right on my car!  WOO! hahaha.  Well I guess there could be a worse place to be stuck, and now we’ll get to see some other hotels.  I’m off to check out hotel prices for the next 3 days, that’s when our flight has been rescheduled to.

In Memory Of Those Who Never Came Home

One thing I’ve noticed since moving to the South is that 9/11 certainly did not effect the entire United States.  Being from the New York area it’s a totally different experience, below is dedicated to the fallen.

Once I am gone,
tears flow like wine,
and tissues lay to the side soiled with sobs and moans,
look to me to only know where I am…
in the music that we listened to,
the movies that we watched,
the memories that you have and the love that we shared.
Once I am gone and cold, do not forget me, for then I am truly, truly dead and gone
for where else may I live but
in your mind,
your heart,
your soul?
As you bid goodbye, hold my hand and touch my face,
let the love,
the pain,
the sorrow spill over as the banks of an engorged rivers edge,
let the emotion run free and spread in torrents as you
leave,
you walk away,
from what is nothing more than a shell
and realize quickly that the one I was,
the one I am,
whoever I have been to you, is what my life was and always will be…
the physical ages,
degrades and disappears,
as we are given charge of continuing the life that we think extinguished.
In our minds
and hearts
as we go through the day,
looking,
searching
and hoping for some
reason,
some rhyme to all of this, and none of that
we look, as we go,
and we hope, as we learn that we shall someday, somewhere find the reason,
the explanation to the questions
to the answers
of the life that we live,
the pain that we breathe
and the agony that we love…
once I am gone,
the dark, cool night wrapping its arms
tightly around my waist,
cry for your pain,
cry for your loss
but do not cry because I am gone
for I am not

Who’s The Boss?

I walked into my office on Tuesday.  I know this doesn’t sound like a monumental task, but after the dissonance that was occurring for me after realizing JC had nothing to back her up, I broke down to my partner and just vented and vented and admitted I was confused and unable to figure out what to do next.  Having just listened to Ekhart Tole’s book the only answer I got in response was “is that so?”  I fucking hate Ekhart Tole.

So I walked into my office, having thought through things and repeating a mantra my mother taught me many years ago…”take the money and run.”  Though I happen to think she cribbed it from The Marshall Tucker Band.  It was a beautiful day here in the South…something rare in August.

So I walk into the office, which is Eric’s house in the old part of town.   His wife informs me that Eric is in court over a traffic ticket.  Perfect, I think, it’ll keep him outta my hair.  I sit down at my desk, blissful that I have some quiet time at the office and I can just get work done.  First priority – go through the 47 emails that have accumulated in my one day absence.

A lot of it is stuff that was resolved already, so I do not have to pay any mind to it.  Then I come across an email from my boss, Eric.

“I am concerned that we are not communicating.

You and I discussed three weeks ago that you would be responsible for managing the sales/enrollment person(s) and I asked you to post job openings on Craig’s list, on the Landmark site, and any other free sites you thought would be beneficial. You replied back to me that you wanted more clarification on the job description.  I even empowered you to ask your partner for assistance.  You sent me a job description 10 days ago, then another five days ago.

I really need someone who can take initiative and not keep coming back to me for everything. Otherwise I could just do it myself, right?

Please show some initiative in your work.  If you need clarification, that’s fine, I encourage it.  But don’t keep throwing the ball back into my court. Make things happen. That’s why I hired you instead of someone else.”

Forgetting that Eric’s wife is in the house I start screaming obscenities at my overpriced laptop.  My coworker and I had explained to Eric that job descriptions were his role since he owns the company and he’s the boss, he needs to flesh out what he wants and desires from an employee.  He kept throwing this back at me to do, even though I explained to him that my partner had politely declined doing work for our company gratis.  What also really ripped me up was the fact that he was acting as if the job description had never gotten completed – I did complete it, in a fit of frustration, blatantly copying one from Monster, then I received no communication on the matter even after repeatedly asking for a response.

His email also mentioned showing some initiative in my work; this is after I compiled and had bound a document of market research over 100 pages, explained to him that I required a specific job description for myself, redesigned and relaunched our customer newsletter, and continued to write and re-write every piece of material we had. Guess that wasn’t enough.

I had seen this happen before in my office.  Eric hired and then subsequently fired our Business Development Manager in less than a month.  He never even gave her a chance.  Every time she asked him what he wanted her to do and/or get done, the answer was the same “get people’s asses in the chairs.” Yes, well that’s the end result, but that’s like going to an assembly line worker and saying “put the car on the road.”  Without some direction, you’re bound to fail. You have to tell someone what their part is and how it fits into the grand scheme of things.

I was fuming.  I called my coworker, who had walked-out the day before.  We have a brief conversation before Eric comes in.

“Hi!”  He says, oddly cheerful, he must have beaten the traffic fine.

“We need to talk, now.”

“OK, what about?”

“I’m resigning.”

He looks like someone just gave him a shit sundae.

“Ok…do you want to tell me why?”

“Well, Eric, I’m not getting any direction from you.  Every time I ask you for some you just tell me to figure it out on my own, well this is your company, shouldn’t you have an idea of where we’re going?  I can reach out all over the place to get our message across, but without any idea of how you want to get there, what you want to do when you get there and who you want to be there, I can’t do anything effective.  I asked for demographics on customers, I was handed someones personal observation which, quite frankly, is worthless.  Our statistics have changed multiple times in the time I’ve been here, and this shit with the job description? You empowered me to work with my partner?  Excuse me? You cannot empower me to work with someone who does not work for this company and who has already declined doing so. ”

“You’re resigning over the job description issue?”

“Eric, no, it’s just the camel that broke the hair’s back.”  That was an honest mistake, I crack up, so does he, it breaks the tension – thankfully.

“Eric, this has no malice attached to it.  You’re an awesome person, I just cannot work in this situation, and I’d hate for this to ruin a friendship that I value.”

“I hear that,” he starts out, “so what I”m hearing is that you want to be an employee.”  That’s his way of trying to jab me, telling me that I don’t have the ambition or ability to be anything more, even though, I am his damn employee.

“Eric, it’s not about that.”  I show him the pen in my hand “You see this?  Ok.  Tell me to hit the target.”

He looks confused, but I urge him on.

“Hit the target.”  He says.

“Ok….where is it?”

“I dunno.”

“I don’t know either, Eric.”  I put the pen down,  “This just isn’t going to work.”

I think maybe he’s gotten it, and he goes into professional mode.

“How much notice are you going to give me?”  He asks.

“How much do you need? ”

He’s actually a little surprised by this.

“Eric,” I start, “this isn’t about leaving you empty handed or in the lurch.  Let me know what kind of support you need to make this transition a smooth as possible for you.”

“Thank you, Anthony, I appreciate that, very much.”

It’s like I said, there’s no malice here.  I like this guy, he’s an awesome guy, I just can’t work for him.  So we leave it at that, I go back to my desk to lay out all of the projects that are currently open.  We agree that I’ll complete the week.  So much stress is finally gone, now.  I was holding a lot in and bringing a lot home from work because the company was quickly unraveling at a time that Eric chose to leave for two-weeks – by the time he came home the entire thing collapsed.

Now I have to tell my partner I just up and did the opposite of his advice.

JC Sandoval

JC Sandoval is the woman behind the “ReThink You” program, which the company I work for promotes.  Eric, my boss, met her a year ago after taking the program, loved the program and now has formed a company around being the North American team to promote and present “ReThink You.”  When my coworker, Tara, and I first heard about JC our B.S. detectors went off, and it only got worse after we met her.

The woman is a very effervescent individual, you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy her company, she claims to be a big wig in the Mind Industry – an industry comprised of new age thinking and most famously known for positive thinking techniques and movies, i.e. The Secret.

JC makes a lot of claims for her notoriety.  She says that ReThink You is famous across the world, though as the marketing manager I cannot find any information on the program or the company, she claims that there are 100,000 graduates from 100 countries, but this number changes weekly, going up, going down, and back up again.  JC also claims that ReThink You is HUGE is China and Malyasia and that she has met with the Minister of Education in China and is instrumental in creating orphanages in China for children affected by AIDS.

A quick Google search disproves all of this.  Her name is nowhere online except for her own promotional sites.  All of the individuals she says she’s helped don’t even recognize her in the dedications of their books…where they seem to thank everyone, right down to that dog they had when they were 5.  I can find no evidence that ReThink You is even in China or Malaysia, save, once again, her own personal promotional sites.  I can’t even locate any information on orphanages in China that she supposedly helped to fund and create.

I bring this to the attention of Eric.
“Eric, I can’t find any proof of JC’s claims.  I mean, I need to know what’s going on here, I’m trying to present a certain face to the public here of us and our programs, but I can’t get any clear picture.”

“Well, Anthony, you can’t really depend on your usual techniques and education to get the answers you want in this industry, sometimes it’s just not valid.”

“What?  I’m not asking for anything special, I just need proof that what she’s claiming is true.  All it’s going to take is one person to call us out on not having proof to bring everything down.  You have to think that if I’m asking these questions, someone else is too.”

Eric’s not pleased with this response, he just wants me to accept JC’s statements as facts before they actually are one.

“Look, Eric, there’s no continuity here.  Our statistics change constantly, I mean weekly.  I get that there are supposedly thousands of grads in the AsiaPac region weekly, but chaning the stats so often does not communicate a positive message.  If we changed them once a quarter or better yet, twice a year, then yes, it shows consistent growth.  But this method screams scam.”

He goes on a leg about how this industry is different and how it’s difficult to get information out of China’s censored media.  How I need to trust JC and him and how my usual marketing tactics can’t be implemented in this industry.  I shoot back with “well didn’t you tell me you hired me for my marketing education and experience?”  He doesn’t like that either, we complete the conversation with him asking me to rewrite a biography for JC for a promotional piece.

I go back to my desk, readthrough what JC wrote and begin paring it down and making it make sense.  I come across one section that sparks interest “The ReThink You program is so big in China that their most prestigious university, Beijing University, holds the program weekly for college credit.”

Hmm….surely a University website wouldn’t censor information on the programs it offers for credit, and Beijing U is a very well respected international University.  I search the english version of the site.  I can’t find anything.  I keep looking.  I utilize every internet research method that I have, to try and find any tiny piece of data linking JC to Beijing University or to China.  Nothing.  I find nothing.

I don’t care what anyone says about any industry.  Tried and true methods of marketing and business are in use today for one reason and one reason only; they WORK.  Having only recently graduated with my MBA I’m still in “prove it” mode, which I like, I love research.  I have been taught to research a fact before it becomes one…and JC Sandoval has no facts.