Of Course I’m Right! Just Ask Me.

smart

I carry a burden.

Sometimes, people ask for my opinion on stuff.  I can only assume that they intend to heed my advice, otherwise why would they ask?

That’s the burden.  My advice, answers, perspectives, thoughts, and even emotions can be a pretty serious contemplation – especially knowing that future generations will in some small way follow my lead.  That’s a lot for one man to carry.

On the upside, I always know I’m right, so there’s comfort in that.

Now, you might be saying ‘Wow – what an ego on that guy!‘, but that’s not true. In fact, I pride myself on my humility.

The thing is, if I thought I was wrong, I wouldn’t offer advice.  None of us would, unless you were some sort of psychopath and deliberately gave people bad advice just to mess with them.

Your opinion is the currency of how others appreciate your wisdom and intelligence.

There are times of course, that I may have no opinion at all.  If I was asked if I preferred knitting or crocheting, I would have no clue, since I neither knit nor crochet. In this case, I would be confident in saying ‘I have no opinion on that topic.  You should ask someone else’.

Even in saying that, I’m showing that I’m correct in my advice…to not take my advice.

See how that works?  But it’s not always that simple.  Sometimes, I will be asked for my advice then have it questioned.  I don’t know why.  If someone wanted my opinion, why then would they choose not to take it?

Let me give you a hypothetical example that in no way reflects any actual events.  Let’s pretend that my lovely wife is picking out a dress for a party.  She holds up 2 outfits and says; “The red dress, or the blue one?”  She’s asking my opinion, presumably because she understands that I have some fashion credibility and she clearly wants to look her best standing next to me.  I need all the help I can get.

I tell her “The blue one”.  That should be it, right?  Asked and answered.  Conversation over, decision made, I’ll be waiting in the car.  You’re welcome.

Really?”, she’ll then say.  What?  Why is she questioning my decision?  Even if I was’t paying attention or watching TV when she asked, I’d have at least a 50/50 shot at getting it right – pretty good odds.

Why the blue one?, she would go on to ask.  Uh, oh.  Not only has my input been brought into question, now I’m being asked to back up my decision with facts.

“Because I like the blue one on you”…I may leave out the fact that we’re already late and the blue one looks like it doesn’t need ironing.  This is how I balance promptness and self-preservation.

“But the red one goes better with my shoes”.  Now we’re treading into deep waters.  If I rescind my original decision about the blue dress, I soil my reputation as being decisive and correct, and my currency begins to devalue.  On the other hand, if I hold fast, we may miss the hors d’oeuvres altogether.

“Okay, the red dress does look better with those shoes.  Wear the red dress.”  I reply.  This doesn’t negate my previous position on the dress.  New information was brought to my attention after the fact, which changed my position.  Good judgement still intact, and my currency stays afloat.  My reputation for promptness however, will be pocked, but sometimes you just gotta go with it, right?

“But you liked the blue one better.”  Sheesh!

“Not with those shoes.”  I should play more chess – I’m a genius!

“Maybe I should wear the blue dress and pick out another pair of shoes”.  Touche! This is no longer an opportunity to offer input, but a battle of the minds.  I wished I had grabbed a snack when I had the chance.

This hypothetical tarry could go on for hours…hypothetically.  But that’s the point of my dilemma.  If I’m asked my opinion, I offer it and expect that to be taken with the utmost consideration. That’s not always the case.  Sometimes, my opinion is nothing more than an opportunity to be an external ‘internal voice’ to be questioned, rebutted, and occasionally outright rejected.

That’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re always right.  You put real thought into offering your input.  When it’s questioned or rejected, it makes you just a bit less sure of yourself.  And that’s dangerous.  The acceptance of your opinion bolsters your currency.  If it’s discarded, it makes you less valuable, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, if you know you’re always right – like I do – maybe it’s more of a reflection on those who reject your input that on your wisdom (previous hypothetical scenario notwithstanding). But that’s just my opinion.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, my wife wore a black dress, looked beautiful in it, and we missed the hors d’oeuvres.  Hypothetically.

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Optimist Prime

WAY TO GO

You know that feeling you get when you see pictures of yourself at a party and you gasp at how old and flabby the photographer made you look?

It shakes the soft foundation of your fragile ego.  Well, this blog isn’t about that….at least not directly.

I’ve been reading back on some of my older material, and decided that I’ve been a bit bitter lately.  Not ‘Ben’s Bitter Bog‘ bitter, but at least pretty sarcastic with a touch of nasty thrown in.

But that’s not me!  Like those terrifying photos, where I try to convince myself it was bad lighting or the camera put on 10 or 40 pounds, I want people to know that this guy is actually pretty light-hearted and fun.

I can tell jokes, and smile at strangers.  I even used to whistle, until I heard on the radio that no one whistles anymore….except for old people.  That sucks, but what song would you whistle to now anyway?  ‘Wrecking Ball?’  ‘Uptown Funk?’  Not exactly whistling music. Even older stuff by my standards wouldn’t do.  ‘Black Dog?’ ‘One Scotch-One Bourbon-One Beer?’ They wouldn’t work either….maaaaybe ‘Hotel California’.

Anyway!  Back to me.

I thought about how I might be perceived based on my blogs, and after reading them, I figured it was time for a change.
grave

So, I had this epiphany about being a bit too negative, and realized that I don’t want that to be etched on my gravestone.  I mean, that’s the one thing in your life that really is written in stone, isn’t it?

Oh, boy – now you probably think I’m being morbid and obsessed with death.  Not true!  In fact, I typically take stupid risks believing that I won’t get hurt.

Alright – off topic again.  This self-realizations stuff is harder than I thought.

Back to the blog.  I think I need to start being more positive.  More glass-half-full, as they say.  I need to share the silver lining in life more often, and leave people smiling and happy.  And, dammit!  That’s what I’m gonna do, even if I hate it, and have to drag my family along kicking and screaming on this impossible mission!

For starters, I’m going to stop commenting on all those political attack ads.  They are poison to the soul, and I for one, will not be a party to such negativity.  Of course, if it’s against someone I support, it would be wrong to just allow malicious comments go unchecked.

Springtime has not been my favourite season.  You may have even read an earlier blog from me, attacking this very important part of the year.  In fact, it’s my second favourite season – right behind the other 3.  But, I’m a new man, and I will embrace the spastic weather, the frozen then thawed dog poop stuck to the bottom of my shoes, and those annoying little bugs that show up and get into everything.  Yup – I am Mr. Spring Sunshine and Rain!  I’m almost even looking forward to allergy season.  Bring on the pollen!

Traffic is another area where I will transcend road rage and frustration, and will endeavor to find peace and harmony even if that dingbat in the left lane won’t move over. People who cut me off are simply poor heathens who aren’t as developed as I am.  So, I will wave a finger at them in show of support of their growth opportunities.  And I can’t forget to smile while doing it…it’s important to repeat actions until they become habits.

Telemarketers are brothers, sisters, children, parents and friends, just like real people.  Why should I add to the misery of their scum-sucking jobs by yelling at them for interrupting my supper, or TV, or staring at the wall?  No, from now on, I’m going to engage them in a fully detailed account about my colonoscopy.  If they give me their email address, I can even send them some high-res pictures.   Who else but a complete optimist would be happy to share a bit of their personal lives with a total stranger?  Now, that’s sharing with my fellow man!

I’m already feeling very in tune with nature, just by opening up and sharing with you, my faithful blog-groupies.  The sun is shining a little bit brighter as the glare blinds my path.  Birds that nest in my dryer vent sound all the sweeter as I try to dig them out with a broom stick.  I even feel healthier and lighter, particularly since I switched to stretch-waist pants.

Wow!  Being a positive, optimistic blogger has been a life-changing process.  No more crabby weather complainer, or disgruntled customer service guy.  From now on, it’s all good!

Even today, while watching the hockey game, I was overheard saying,  ‘Good call, ref!’. Ahhh…peace and harmony.

By the way, there really is a ‘Ben’s Bitter Blog’ – it’s really depressing!!

http://bensbitterblog.com/

 

Missing the mark – why you should hate Target

target fail

Last week Target Canada announced that after 2 years of losses, it was going to take it’s little dog and go home, leaving the land of maple syrup and poutine to pick up the pieces of a shattered dream for over 17,000 Canadians.

Sure, Canada can be an inhospitable place when it comes to the frozen retail jungle, with our high taxes, importing tariffs, base labour rates, etcetera, etcetera.  That much we know, so why didn’t the big brains at Target know that?  Maybe they could have nudged a friendly Canuck on the arm and found out what we’re all about, or sifted through the ashes of other failed chains like Radio Shack, Sam’s Club and Marks & Spencer for clues.

Perhaps the giveaway of their eventual demise was their clamor to buy up retail space from the failed Zeller’s chain…an omen of things to come?

We can all sympathize with the dire news that hits us every January in this country, when the bean-counters tally up the coveted Christmas retail sales numbers only to find another chain is waving the white flag and liquidating it’s inventory as sales fell short of what was needed to keep the ship afloat.

For that, I feel sad.  For Target, my feelings are not so benevolent.  It has nothing to do with it being a U.S. chain that invaded our snow-covered borders.  Heck, we were excited to have them here!  We welcomed the enormous bulls-eye with open arms and open wallets.  No, my wrath has nothing to do with where Target came from.  It’s in how they came and how they left.

Target arrived with more fanfare than a Presidential Inauguration.  “We are the great Target, and we will give good jobs to hard-working Canadians.  We will support distributors, vendors, support services, and landlords; bring tax revenue to this quaint little country, and we will take on the much-despised Walmart”.

They traded here on their U.S. strength, deep coffers, savvy buying and great prices all wrapped in a sophisticated retail environment.  They said, in so many words, that they were a huge American company, so trust them.

Vendors signed up to deliver goods without credit check, terms or deposits.  They were happy just to be one of the few chosen to stock the shelves in this great retailing giant. Workers were romanced into leaving good paying jobs to join this amazing company. They all had dreams of long-term growth, as demonstrated south of the border.  And Target traded on their impressive U.S. CV.

But something went very wrong.  Their first store openings were as unimpressive as a beach party during a Canadian snow storm.  Empty shelves, weak pricing, boring selection all had the Canadian shoppers shaking their collective heads as to what Target was thinking.

It never got any better.  Stores continued to suffer from delivery issues, non-competitive pricing, and ineffective advertising.  The only thing emptier than the shelves were the check-out lines. The writing was on the wall right from the first ribbon-cutting in Guelph Ontario.

Bad planning?  Perhaps.  Underestimating the Canadian retail landscape?  For sure. These things are tragic and stupid, but that’s not what has me writing this.  The ire is in what Target did next.

After using the American head office muscle to sway us into a false sense of security with Target, they decided to pack up and leave not as an American retail powerhouse, but as a failed Canadian company that has applied for creditor protection (Canadian version of Chapter 7 – bankruptcy protection).

That’s right – Target, with all its money and influence, chose to slink back south of the border without having to make good on it’s promises to us Canadians.  Besides the 17,000 plus employees that are left in the dust, Target has used a legal loophole to avoid having to pay it’s bills here.  Not as that big American company that used all its leverage to gain favour, but as a uniquely Canadian company unable to cover it’s debt.

So now they’ll leave with hat in hand, saying ‘Gee, shucks.  Really sorry about all that inventory you shipped us, but we can’t pay for it’.  Nowhere is the American parent, still with deep pockets and international influence, swooping in to take care of the mess their offspring created, even though it was that parent who persuaded us to ‘trust’ their kid.

Where is that strong giant parent company, now that all those workers are applying for employment insurance?  What about the suppliers who are hoping to get something from the inventory liquidation process to cover some of their losses – and probably having to lay off more people – the contractors who clean, maintain, and provide security to the Target stores? All out of work, and possibly out of pocket.

There are more, I’m sure that will be affected by this, and many won’t get paid for outstanding invoices.  Target will carry on south of the border as if nothing happened up here, and some of us will still travel across to cash in on bargains, just like they have in the past.

Instead of stepping back into the mess they’ve created and making good on their financial commitments, Target chose to protect itself from taking responsibility for a lousy business strategy, and for causing a huge ripple effect on the Canadian economy.

Shameful…and I hate them for it.

Social Networking might be killing my social network

unlikeI never seem to learn from my mistakes, so learning from others is clearly out of the question.

My plunge into social media is a good example.  I should have left it alone, knowing what others were posting for the world to see, but I guess in today’s highly electronic, ubber-connected, instant update world, social networking is a lot like food.  You need to have it (arguably), but if you do too many rounds of the McDonald’s drive-thru, it might just kill you…metaphorically speaking.

Finding old friends online has been fun and a heck of a lot safer than showing up at a 30th High School reunion with more gut and less hair.  On the web, they only see what you want them to see.  Some folks should close the curtains a bit more than they do, if you know what I mean.

My problem with being on Facebook is keeping my big yap shut.  It’s like poker in a way.  I’m one big ‘tell’. ‘Eww!  Two aces!’…everyone folds.  My lips flap away uncontrollably and everyone else leaves the table – usually with my money.

Social media outlets like Facebook are an all-you-can-eat buffet of opinion, idealism, voyeurism, fear, stupidity and anger, and it’s too tempting for me to step away from.  All those topics your mother told you polite people don’t discuss – religion, politics, selfies, are open season on the internet.

Well, this social buffet is filling me with nasty cholesterol and gas, and it’s making everyone else yell ‘Cheque please!’.  But I can’t help it – too many tasty tidbits to nibble on and not enough self control.

Opinions are like….well, you know the saying.  Everyone’s got one.  They’re also a double-edged sword.  We share them, thinking everyone will climb on board, cheering and supporting us.  If we’re really lucky, we’ll get an obscure retort from someone that our friends will attack like a fat kid on a Smartie.  All we get mostly is a couple of ‘likes’ and that’s it.

That’s my problem.  Someone posts an article about how processed cheese is a secret plot by the government to make us fat and lazy so we’re easy to control, and BAM!’  I’m diving in like it’s free crab-leg night at my favourite buffet.  Strap on the bib and keep the melted butter coming!  I’m writing in a flurry of quips, commentaries and rebuttals that are driving huge chasms between me and my online friends.

I know I should leave it alone – just shut it off, but it’s not that simple.  My social networking ‘work’ is very important you know…analyzing the latest ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ fail videos, or watching cats falling off of furniture.  Very intellectual stuff.  It’s no different than eating a healthy salad, then someone putting out a platter of bacon sliders.  What’s a guy to do?

When I over-eat, it’s only me and my belt that suffers.  But when I can’t resist challenging every opinion on the internet, I pull back another sour layer of the onion that I am, and no one wants to see the layers of my onion….and it’s making my ‘friend’ list smaller.

‘Like’ if you agree.