Bone-head New Years Resolution

screw upBy now, all of you should know that my actions have pitched me a bit off course a few times.  Most of the time, these things happen out of my control, but occasionally I’ve deliberately and single-handedly been a total bone-head.

But hey!  Every new year allows us to clean the slate and start fresh.  An amnesty of the soul if you will. How refreshing.  How inspiring. How delusional.

Instead of setting myself up for failure with resolutions to lose weight, call my mother more often, and being more organized, I thought that this year maybe I’d just try not to do the same stupid stuff I’ve done in the past.  That seems more realistic.

With that in mind, and with a nod to the 12-step programs, I thought I’d share some of these less-than-stellar moments of my life so that you, dear reader, can help me to steer clear of the shoals, make amends for my past indiscretion’s,  and maybe avoid them yourself.

BUT, just for the sake of plausible deniability, one of these things did not involve me (unfortunately though, they are all very true).

WHAT’S THAT SMELL?:  I once conducted a business review with an owner, all the while standing there with a big pile of dog poop on my shoe.

TALES FROM THE DEEP: For a stunt, I once ‘borrowed’ a ceramic swordfish off a front lawn, threw it in the lake then nearly drowned myself trying to get it to swim to the surface….alcohol and peer pressure may have been factors.  And I brought the fish back.

OOPS!: While doing work at a grocery store, I completely tipped over a 40′ aisle of groceries by mistake.  The crashing merchandise missed a mother and child by a couple of feet. I never went back there again.

THE PURGE: After a night of celebrating for the completion of my job training, I arrived bright and early at my first customer sales call and threw up at their front door…while they were standing there to meet me.

CAREER SUICIDE: Golfing at a company event, one of our executives would hit the ball into the woods and immediately run in after it while the rest of us waited to tee off.  Late in the game, when this happened for the 15th consecutive time, the others assured me it was okay to go ahead and hit while he was rooting around in the foliage.  Just as he stepped out of the woods,  I sliced the ball hard, directly at his head.  Only a small branch saved his life and my job.

FLAME-OUT: For Christmas one year, I accidentally caught the yard on fire after throwing a flaming turkey about 10 feet into a snowbank.

DID YOU GET THE LICENCE OF THAT JACUZZI?: I ran myself over with a bathtub on the lake.  We were entering it in a ‘bathtub’ race and while testing it, the front dipped in a wave and threw me over the front.  It kept going, right over me.

YES, DEAR: At a convention, I accidentally pocket-dialed my wife while a group of us were making ‘comments’ about a model search going on in the adjoining hall.

BYGONES: I took my best friend snow skiing once.  It was his first time, but because I was such a jerk, I took him down the double-diamond run.  He still talks to me.

9-11:  When I was training for a low-risk sales job, I was admitted to the hospital 3 times on 3 separate occasions – once for severing an artery.

WHAT AN ICE HOLE!: One winter when I was a kid after a freezing rain storm, my friend and I strapped on our hockey skates and raced around our block on the frozen sidewalk.  As we got to one stretch, I saw that one of the driveways had been cleared of ice.  I stopped but didn’t warn my friend, who raced past me.  You could see the sparks for miles.  He had to buy new skates.

EXPLETIVE EXCUSE: Coaching a kids soccer team, I had one troubled player who had a real potty mouth. At a tournament, I told the other coaches that he had Tourette Syndrome so we wouldn’t be disqualified for swearing.

INAPPROPRIATE GIFTING: Yes I did.  For either Valentines Day or Mother’s Day (I’ve blocked out much of it), I bought my beautiful bride a………wait for it………gym membership.

Whew!  That feels better already.  Achieving my New Years goals should be dead easy with that kind of history.  Can you guess which one if these true stories didn’t happen to me?  No fair for those of you who were victimized in one or more of them…I will block your responses.

Wish me luck!

PS:  The statutes of limitations has expired for most of these, so don’t call the cops.

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I’m really very charitable…really!

charityI refused to help homeless children, and I’m totally okay with it…..really….maybe.

Okay, let me qualify.  I do believe in giving back for those rich gifts that have been given to me.  I really do.  I’m all about paying it forward, sharing my time, talent and treasures – all that good sharing of God’s gifts kind of stuff.  Maybe not as much as I should, but I do what I can.

But there has to be a limit to saying ‘yes’ to every handout, right?  Those kids at the door with chocolate covered almonds, or the skip-a-thon, or whatever.  They’re endless!  You have to pick and choose carefully, or you’ll go broke and become one of the charities yourself.

It’s tough!  Guilt is a great motivator, and a lot of charities leverage it perfectly.  Send kids. How do you say ‘No’ to a little kid?  Add in some tasty treat that you’re craving, and you can’t resist it.  You reach into your pocket and hand them $5 bucks for a bland piece of candy you could have bought for $1.

So, you’re pressured to help others (guilt), add in some tasty treat (temptation), and sell it through the eyes of a cute, innocent little kid and you’re doomed!  It’s the trifecta of sales tactics.  You can’t resist it.  About the only other thing they could do is be holding a puppy at the time.

There’s a commercial out right now where a little girl is trying to sell donuts door-to-door.  donuts With a syrupy-sweet voice, she stands like Vanna White, showing off the doughy goodness while batting her cute little eyes and says; ‘Donuts?’.  The lady manages to resist the temptation, thanks to a low-calorie cereal bar….yeah, like that’ll work in real life.

My wife loves this commercial.  Not because of the product they’re selling, but she uses the same ‘Donuts?’ voice on me when she wants something or wants me to have a snack with her.  Apparently, it’s not bad to sneak a snack if someone else does it with you.

A few years ago, I was walking out of a store after buying some adult beverages for a dinner party we were hosting.  As usual, some kid had set up shop outside, and was hitting people up to buy a chocolate bar or something so he could do whatever he was trying to do – I don’t even remember what it was.  I said, ‘No thanks’, and walked away.  Just then, the little kid dropped his head down in rejection and muttered;

“I’ve been standing here all day and no one has bought one”….CRAP!

As I ate the stupid chocolate bar on the way home, I wondered if that was one of his lines to make a sale.  I may never know, but I gotta say that it was effective.

I decided a while ago that I would no longer succumb to the door-to-door pitch whenever possible, mostly because I think it’s a lousy way to get a kid to go on a school trip or pay for a hockey tournament.  I also did it because I have to, like most of us, watch my budget.

I have a couple of standard lines I use:  ‘sorry, I don’t have any cash on me right now’, or my favourite; ‘I have a nut allergy’, while standing recoiled behind the door like some vampire being shown garlic.

Usually, I don’t even answer the door any more.  How sad is that?

But you can’t escape them for long.  I was standing at the checkout at the grocery store the other day, with hundreds of dollars in extravagant items – steak, seafood, my favourite potato chips.  Even a decadent dessert that I clearly could live without,  and the cashier asked the dreaded question:

“Would you like to give $2 to help homeless children?”

What do you do?  How do you, standing there with an audience of shoppers silently judging your goodwill, put your foot down and refuse such dastardly trickery?

The ethical and social pressure is immense.  And no one wants to hear your excuses, either.  They just want you to pay up and get your groceries off the belt.

I didn’t have a need to say ‘yes’.  I should feel no guilt, no shame in deciding that what I do regularly is good enough, so I replied, quietly and with no eye contact, ‘Not today’.

So, why do I feel so guilty?  I even wrote this blog, trying to clear my conscience.

Please tell me that I’m not a bad person for not giving $2 to homeless children.  That sounds bad, doesn’t it?

It’s all my fault

cropsI have a confession to make – I’m to blame for everything.

You see, when I shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, I want only the best, ripest, and freshest produce for my family.  Because I only pick the best, freshest and ripest, the rest of the fruit gets left behind and is eventually thrown out by the store.  I don’t want it, and I won’t pay for it, so they have to get rid of it.

Because this is how I shop, the store owners tell their suppliers not to give them any old, bruised, marked, or otherwise ‘unattractive’ product.  The suppliers comply.  It’s about me.  I’m paying, so they have to do what I want.

Now, the supplier is going to go back to the farmer.  He’s going to tell the farmer not to pick anything that has a mark on it, is bruised, or has signs of insects or other natural diseases.  The farmer has to comply, since the supplier won’t buy it from him otherwise.

The farmer, faced with fields of growing crops, needs to yield as much perfect produce as he can, or he’ll go broke.  I won’t buy anything sub-par for my family, so the grocery store won’t buy anything sub-par from the supplier, who won’t buy anything sub-par from the farmer….you get the idea.

Standing out in an open field, exposed to the elements, the farmer has few choices, since his crops are what feeds his family.  He needs to ensure that everything he grows can be sold, otherwise he’s growing nothing but debt.

With few options, the farmer employs the help of chemical sprays to ensure his crops look perfect.  It’s my fault.  I’m the guy standing at the road-side stands, checking each cob of corn for worms.  I’m not bringing those nasty bugs home to my family, so I guess I’m willing to have the corn sprayed, even if that’s not a conscious decision at the time.

McDonalds is my fault too.  Sorry.  Sometimes I’m in a hurry, or just too lazy to cook.  I asked for quickly prepared food – so quick in fact, that I can drive up to a window and have it handed to me, hot and salty within a minute.  I told McDonalds that this is how I want my food, so they complied.  I know it’s not healthy, but sometimes I just need to scarf down some grub while I’m on the run – and if pushed I’d say that I sometimes really crave the taste of a Big Mac.

The big-box stores?  You know it – me again.  I needed variety, long hours and cheap prices for all those toaster ovens, back massagers and iPhones. Sure, there were little stores that had them, but what a pain in the butt, having to drive from store to store.  And I didn’t know when they were open or if they had good prices.

I know, I should have supported the local business owner, but heck, who has time for that?  When I need a left-handed spindle crank, I can’t risk going to a store that doesn’t have it in stock and in 3 colours.  Nope – big box is the way to go.  I don’t know why that strip mall near my house looks so deserted though.  Must be the economy.

Although I’m not a photographer, I’m also responsible for the paparazzi attacks on celebrities.  I just can’t get enough of those tabloid magazines while standing in line at the grocery store.  A 3-headed baby that sings like Elvis?  Are you kidding?  Who’s got the latest ‘baby bump’, and who looks worse in a bathing suit? I crave this stuff.  Because I do, the photographers will do almost anything to get the picture that will entice me buy their magazine.

I was probably the one responsible for Princess Diana’s tragic death.  Can’t get enough of the Royals – I sent those photographers on motorcycles to capture an image of Lady Diana stepping out with her new beau.

See, the thing is, I would love to blame the farmers, or the fast-food places or the big box stores for how they’ve poisoned and cheapened our planet – they’re an easy target.  In the end though, it was me, the consumer, who decided to exercise the greatest power I had.  I gave them my business.  My money.  I told them, through my humble purchasing decisions what I wanted, and they complied.

So, I want to confess.  It’s my fault these things are the way they are.  I was the one making decisions that landed us where we are today.  I hope you can all forgive me.

Anything you’d like to get off your chest?