Monday, October 31

Don't Ever Work With Someone Who's Bi-Polar

I got some sage advice from a guy who started talking to me at the Avenues Mall Food Court while I waited for my daughter to hang out with her friends. He's a furniture upholsterer who apparently makes $100 an hour, but he was scheming on how to get out of paying for a meal. We discussed strategy, and he seemed to think his best bet was the white girl working at the Asian restaurant because Asian restaurants don't keep food inventory and white girls are more likely to feel sorry for him. That's what he told me, at least.

Instead of enacting his strategy, the guy decided to talk to me some more. I know his real intent was for me to give him the money to buy dinner. But I was waiting next to the food court because I didn't even want to buy myself a meal, so I wasn't going to spring for a guy who can earn $100 an hour. In fact, I told him that when he got paid for all those mall upholstery jobs he had for the next week, he should buy food for everyone in the food court. He told me that the fact I would suggest such charity meant I've never been rich (he's right). I was half-joking, but his slight was a misstep on his part if he was still trying to get a free meal out of me.

He decided to tell me why he, a guy worth $100 an hour, wasn't going to eat a paid meal all weekend. Apparently, he is in business with a bi-polar woman. He warned me never to enter into a business relationship with someone who was bi-polar, and I can imagine the condition might prove to be a challenge for the business. (So too would going into business with a sleazy scammer, so I'd probably warn all the bi-polar ladies out there to watch out for a guy who does upholstery work.) He tells me his bi-polar "silent" business partner has suddenly cut him off. The problem is that he owes her $20,000, so he says that's why she needs to keep funding him. Now, he didn't tell me what the $20,000 was for, but I'd assume professional upholstery equipment, maybe a vehicle, and apparently living expenses. Perhaps a shop. I don't know, since I started my website business with about $500 for web hosting and business cards. Then again, this guy was definitely a go-big-or-go-home type of cat. Especially when it's someone else's money, I'm sure. 

So the guy is a big thinker and big spender, making $100 on the slide as he runs up debt on bi-polar Sugar Momma's credit card, so she eventually cuts him off, leaving him hungry at the mall. He showed me the text from her and everything, so I can confirm she canceled him from her credit card. I was wondering how her being bi-polar led to him squandering $20,000 of her money, but I really couldn't think of a diplomatic way of asking. I guess the fact that she's demanding an eventual return on investment is crazy of her. Actually, if you decide to silently invest thousands of dollars in some guy who shows up to do some work for you in Florida, you are a little off your rocker.

I kind of wonder at the eventual outcome. He seemed to think that he'd be getting back at her for de-funding him by no longer working to establish his own business with (presumably) more of her money. His thinking is that she will come to her senses because the only way she'll get her $20,000 plus dividends back is to ensure he gets established. I suppose if she truly is bi-polar, he'll eventually re-convince her of his talents and vision. But it's also possible a responsible family member or lawyer got involved to put a stop to the obviously flawed business arrangement. Maybe one of his buddies charged her a retainer to help her get out of the contract with him. Anyhow, this article should serve as a warning to all the rich, crazy, old ladies who live in Florida. Also to the entrepreneurial craftsmen who think scamming those old ladies is easy work.

Advice Column: Workplace Party Pooper Replies

Dear NewJaxWitty,
I recently went to a work conference where there was a lot of partying. Attendees of the conference included my former boss (who had stabbed me in the back and nearly got me fired) and a current boss (who ranted on at a meeting saying I should be fired). I learned that their failings as managers had led to a misconception of me that has since been mostly straightened out. However, neither person has apologized for their roles in making my life a living hell for several months. At the conference, I was asked to join them at the after-hours party. Since I don't particularly like these two people, I declined. I was then called a party-pooper by my current boss. I'm not good at comebacks, so I just left. What should I have done? 

The Party Pooper

Dear Pooper,
It's a classic method of those who have risen to their highest level of incompetence to forget when they fail, since it's probably most of the time. Nobody really likes their bosses so much as they have to put up with them, so you're not wrong to want to avoid partying with them. Comebacks are easy to screw up in this scenario, especially if others in the room don't know the details of your disdain. The best course of action is probably to attend the party and wait for the bosses to get drunk enough to say or do something really stupid, but that backfires if you also get drunk (which you'd obviously want to do). Avoiding the party will make you look anti-social to your fellow employees, but getting wasted and then accusing your bosses of being ass-clowns would actually look worse. 

Here are some other comeback options, depending on what you're looking to accomplish:

Snarky
You and (other boss) pooped on my party last year and made my work-life hell, so we're even. Almost.

Sexy
My spouse has a party waiting for me when I get home, so I'm saving my energy.

Been There
I promised my parents I wouldn't call them again to bail me out after a night of partying.

Sexy, or Scary
The last time I let it all hang out, I literally let it all hang out.

Old School PSA
That's harassment, and I don't have to take it.

Me Time
I've got an incognito web browser, unlimited data, and a nice hotel room waiting for me.

Biblical
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1, ESV)

Responsible 
My AA sponsor might not agree.

Raging
If we're snorting lines off hookers' tits, I'm in.

Better Off Without You
I joined this amazing book club after listening to a podcast on NPR about the diaspora of the hegemony of the pedagogy of the oppressed, and I need to finish my book. Or else I could talk about it at the party, I guess.

Sinister
The last two times I partied, someone died.

Priorities
I'm this close to figuring out the entire Q-Anon mystery and the voting machine conspiracy, and my country needs me.

Reverse Psychology
I like the people I work with too much to party with them.

Work Wife
I've been working hard all day at this conference to be a better employee. I'm just tired, and I have a headache.

Vague
I have a few things I need to do first, so I'm probably going to show up in a little while. Maybe.

Duty Call
I need a nap, but if you're still partying at 3am, definitely call me.

The bottom line is that you should not feel pressured to participate in workplace social events that could lead to you feeling embarrassed. That said, inept managers who lack the ability to lead will always shift blame to others for poor numbers or a hostile work environment. Your lack of participation, if not understood by co-workers, gives these managers a potential target. 

Saturday, October 8

Here's Why I'm a Lutheran in Jacksonville

My church challenged me to "go," and this is the format I prefer over going door-to-door. In general, Lutherans don't "go" very much, so encouraging us to share our faith is normally about the words rather than the actions. Based on my electronic doorbell, I'd say it's pretty much Jehovah's Witnesses and nobody else going door-to-door. And "roof inspectors."

As I said, I'm Lutheran in a mostly non-denominational or Baptist city. Less than 1% of us are Lutherans, and that includes LCMS, ELCA, and WELS, whereas about 30% are Baptist or non-denominational. But I'm not writing this in order to convert those folks to my way of thinking about grace, communion, or baptism. It's all fairly similar, and the Christian church has bigger fish to fry. And speaking of fish fry, I'm not even trying to convince Catholics (10% in Jax) that the Reformation happened for good reason and that it's so 16th century of them to still be Catholic.

I'm writing because a reader might be thinking about attending a new church or sending their kids to a new school in East Arlington. I'm at Grace Lutheran. Besides the fact that we don't tend to "go" and do enough, I like it there. If you were brought up Lutheran or attended a Lutheran school, it's worth checking out. If you don't know anything about Lutherans or even Christianity, it's also worth checking out. 

Our pastor said he doesn't like the terminology of "church shopping," and I'd love to agree. However, I assume most non-Lutherans or non-Christians who are interested in my church will be church shopping. At other churches, you might shop, decide to join, and then also decide to get baptized. Lutherans would want the Holy Spirit to lead you. Like your personal shopper, I guess. 

Non-denominational churches will each have their own set of rules. You might agree with all or some of those tenants. LCMS churches follow the national LCMS rules. That can be beneficial. I suppose it can also be limiting. I like knowing what I'm getting and knowing where it's coming from. My pastors have been trained and certified by a governing body, and the school is accredited by LCMS, too. We have several hundred years of tradition and debate surrounding important church topics. Some churches can be just fine with a charismatic pastor who has an online degree in metaphysics, but that's kind of a gamble to me.

If something is missing in your life, maybe church can help with that. You'll meet some new people, and maybe you'll participate in some meaningful volunteer opportunities (or help us come up with some).  Even with the guilt and victim complex felt by many Christians, religious people tend to be happier than non-religious folks in most countries (sorry, Ecuador and Spain). In fact, religious Americans are very happy at a 10% higher rate than those who are not religious. That includes all religions, but I think plenty of Christians are happy. At least they always have hope. That means you can totally disagree with the state of things yet believe it will get better; and if it doesn't get better, you'll die and go to heaven where it will be better. That's easier than trying to create a perfect society through hippie communes or a VR world run by a billionaire tech nerd.

Anyhow, Grace Lutheran Church and School is on McCormick Rd, in between Monument and Kernan. You've driven past it plenty of times and now you know what it is. Stop in for Sunday service. I'd recommend the 11am contemporary service for new folks unless you're into old-school chanting and organ music. 

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