Booger Burgers……………

There are two kinds of people when it comes to getting poor food or poor service at a restaurant. Those who complain and those who don’t. I am one of those who don’t.

My Daughter and I had only a couple more days until her brother returned, so I wanted to take her out to dinner again. We went to Ruby Tuesday, one of her favorite places to eat because she likes the Buffalo Chicken wings appetizer. That was fine with me, I like a good burger, and the last time we went, I really enjoyed their Bacon Cheeseburger. That was a few weeks ago. Not so much this last Friday night.

I have never worked serving tables. I imagine it’s a tough job trying to satisfy all kinds of different people. You are basically the “face of the place”, and you have to depend on others to make or break you. It certainly can be rewarding, both financially and mentally if you enjoy meeting and talking with people. I like the money part, not so much the talking with others part. I worked as a bartender for a while, so I understand the working for tips part too. I consider myself to be a good tipper because of that, which works against me most of the time. I always leave a decent tip whether the service was great or terrible.

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Our waitress came with a big smile. Not very talkative, but that’s ok with me. We ordered our food, my Daughter the Chicken Wings, and me the Bacon Cheeseburger. I never really give it much thought when they ask me how I would like my burger done. I assume a burger is a burger, and every cook knows how to make one. The waitress asked me how I would like it done, suggesting medium. I thought for a split second and agreed, thinking I like them juicy with a hint of pink in the middle, like I had the last time I was there.

Ruby Tuesdays are slow when it comes to getting your food. I imagine they want you to have a few drinks before you get your meal, that’s a big profit item, but we don’t drink so it magnifies the wait time when you are just drinking water. We finally got our food. As I open my bun to put some Catsup on it, it looks like a burnt piece of leather. You know those thin frozen burgers you get cheap at the store. Throw one on the grill and let it sizzle until the last remaining drop of liquid is gone. Kind of like a slice of a hockey puck. I showed it to my Daughter, because it was so burnt, and she agreed it looked pretty well done for a medium burger. I put the top back on and started to choke it down.

One more thing. I like Blue Cheese on my burger, and the Chicken wing appetizer comes with some for dipping. My Daughter doesn’t like it, so I put it on my burger instead. This Blue Cheese had big pieces of soggy lettuce in it. They must get it out of the salad bar, or keep the leftovers from the day before just for dips. Maybe they think the drunks who order the appetizers won’t notice. I noticed. It softened the tough meat up. I ate it anyway. I was wondering if I was going to get sick from my food on the way home, but I think the piece of meat left devoid of any organic matter counteracted the soggy lettuce and other assorted unnamed pieces of matter in the Blue Cheese.

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About halfway through the meal (if you could call it that), the waitress came by and asked how everything was. Now I never say anything, but this time I was going to stand up for myself. I opened the half-eaten burger and said it was not good, it was burnt when I ordered it medium.  She took one look, agreed with my assessment, and walked away. I had visions of her talking to the chef and the manager, and coming back apologetically with an offer to get me another, free dessert, pay for the meal, a coupon for next time, all in the name of keeping a customer happy. We saw her 20 minutes later when she brought the bill. She didn’t say a word.

I have been with people who complain about their meal, send it back, and get a replacement. I have also heard stories of the chef getting angry and spitting on that replacement. I don’t want to eat someone else’s spit. For some reason, that always sticks in my mind when faced with that situation, so instead of sending it back and getting a booger on my burger, I just suck it up and keep my mouth shut. It’s too bad because instead of trying to rectify the situation, I just never go back there. Just like now I am never going to go back to Ruby Tuesdays. That not only hurts them (which I secretly want to do) but mainly hurts my Daughter because she likes to eat there.

The waitress seemed uncomfortable when she came back to get my credit card to pay. I think she was nervous about getting stiffed. I know it wasn’t her fault to begin with, but being the customer connection, she should have tried to make it right. I know it’s really my fault for not asking to be satisfied, she can’t read my mind. My, how I like to justify everything. I also imagined she had a family to help feed, worried about losing her job, car payments, rent, maybe deep in debt. The chef might be new, right off the street, and really needed this job. Certainly, I wouldn’t want to get him in trouble. She went home that night and counted her tips. I went home feeling lousy. I left her 20% tip and we walked out.

Of course, I never said a word to my Daughter about it after I showed her the burger. I kept all this thinking to myself. I didn’t want it to affect our night out together. Maybe I missed passing on an important learning lesson. But what would be the lesson? To complain when you don’t get what you want? To accept what is and move on? To demand you get what you pay for? To have empathy for someone dealing with a situation, not their making? To show you are not a pushover? To be grateful for what you have? Not an easy answer and we all have our own opinion about it. Doesn’t matter what I think about it anymore, it is what it is. I am more concerned hat my kids learn to navigate the sometimes puzzling waterways of life.

I guess there will always be two kinds of people. Those who complain, and those who don’t. Let me clarify. Those who complain out loud, and those who don’t.

It was funny that there is an extension to this story. We took a road trip the next day and stopped for lunch, not at Ruby Tuesdays of course. She ordered Chicken wings, I a burger.  I learned my lesson and ordered the burger medium rare, specifically more on the rare side. It came very well done. I did what I always do. Kept my mouth shut and choked it down.

I have decided. I either have to stop ordering burgers, or complain and get boogers…...

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Finding Gold……………..

“You find any gold yet?” the old man shouted to the lady picking up small bits of shell from the beach. “I wish” she replied back. There were sticks and shells all over Baldwin Beach today. The winter waves are starting, and were pretty big, which means they push water high upon the sand. Of course, we all know he was just kidding, the old man that is. Just making old man conversation. I have seen him walk with his son on many occasions. I assume it’s his son. The old man looks about 85, and the son pushing 60. I also assume they own one of the million dollar plus homes hidden behind the beach, golf course too, because they look like they have money. Ok, I said I am not going to judge so we can call this speculation. As long as we are speculating, I suspect the son is looking for a little gold himself, like his Dad’s bank account. He looks like he might indulge in a few drinks too many too. There’s a really nice gin blossom growing on his face. (If you don’t know what that is, think W.C. Fields. Big nose, big drinker). I guess I’m not speculating. I’m judging.

What if I did find gold? That might be a problem. It’s not like winning the lottery, where they steal your tax money and give you the rest in a check. With gold, you have to worry about someone stealing it from you. I’m not sure I would want to say anything about it unless someone sees me find it. I might end up in a battle for rights to it from maybe someone who says they lost it, or the state claiming rights to it. I might get nothing. I wonder how much I could carry. That might be a problem if I had to leave some behind and make a few trips. I would certainly draw attention that way. And I don’t know where I would hide it. I have looked around this house to hide my passport and still can’t find a good spot. Maybe I could cover it back up when I find it, and go back later in the dark. That might be risky too because we all know what kind of people poke around at night.

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I think I better watch a few old westerns. I loved them as a kid. My favorites are John Wayne, the Rifleman, and Steve Mcqueen. Roy Rogers and Tonto weren’t bad either. Yul Brenner made a good bad guy, and I was sure I could beat him in a draw. Someone was always finding gold in those old movies. Maybe they panned for it, or dug it out of an old mine, someone was always striking paydirt. The first thing they did was head down to the saloon, get roaring drunk, and get a girl or two. Then if they had any left, they would get shot when they left the saloon by Yul Brenner. Too bad I wasn’t there.

Some of the smarter ones carted their gold in sacks down to the bank, if Bandidos didn’t rob them first. They would put the money in the bank. The banker would always put it on a scale to weigh it, and stick his thumb under the scale to lighten the weight.  Then the bank would get robbed the next day by bank robbers and they would make off with all the loot. Eventually, the posse would catch them, but not before they spent all the gold on whiskey and women. Sometimes they would bury some of it, but they always forgot where. Come to think of it, they didn’t have a lot of luck finding gold back then either.

Let’s get back to me finding gold. If it was just a few coins, I would probably head down to the bar, get drunk, and find a girl. That would be the end of it and then I would write a blog about it. But let’s say I found the sunken treasure of Blackbeard. Hopefully, on land, I would be out of luck trying to dive for it. Ten thousand Gold Dubloons. Worth maybe a zillion dollars. Now let’s say I got it home. No place to hide it. Now how do I cash it in? I could take a few down to the local coin shop, but they would wise up and figure I had more. Probably send a hit man over to bump me off and get the gold. I could put it on eBay, same problem.  Maybe start a big fire and melt the whole thing into a big brick. Now what? Haul it to Fort Knox? Just my luck Goldfinger is about to hit the place, and I lose it all again.

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I guess I could call the TV station. They would send someone out to do a story about me and then wait for the FBI to show up wondering where I got it. They would probably confiscate the gold and throw me in jail until they straighten out my story, and make sure some government official and the IRS get involved. They would finally figure out where it came from, figure out it wasn’t mine to take, take my gold, sentence me to some time in jail, give me a big fine, and the IRS would send me a tax bill anyway.

I’m going to go down to the beach tomorrow and poke around in the sand. (It’s gold-colored if that counts). Then if that old man and his kid walk by and ask me if I found any gold yet, I know just what to say. “I hope not!”

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The perfect date……………….

I was planning our date, and I wanted it to be memorable for both of us. Something for us to remember for years to come. I researched restaurants, sunset times, the best beach, where to park, and a nice place for a walk along the shore. I wanted it to be perfect. This would be technically our first date alone, without others around to distract us. I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how it would go, what we would talk about, if we would want to do it again.

We went to the sunny, warm side of the island, Kihei.  Sunset was at 6:05 so we went down around 4:00 to have some time to enjoy the remaining hours of daylight, then watch the sunset and have dinner after that. I picked Polo Beach, the beach I have talked about before next to the big luxury resorts. I suggested we visit the two of the nicest ones because she had never seen them.

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We started by walking the paved path along the ocean that connects the big resorts, starting at the Grand Wailea, and ending with the Kea Lani. The weather was perfect, and those resorts are a wonder to see. We took pictures on the balconies and the huge open lobby, then walked past the shops and pools and fountains. She mentioned she was hungry, but one look at the menu at a tiki looking restaurant built over a goldfish pool, she said it was too expensive and could wait. My kind of girl I thought. We walked past the Luau on the way out, which was just going to start. I asked if she wanted to watch, but she had been to one and didn’t care.

The sun started to set as we walked to the Kea Lani, the first resort I stayed at on my first trip to the island. We sat on a ledge on the perfectly manicured lawn and watched the sun slip silently into the sea. It was about 80 degrees and very little wind. Perfect,  I couldn’t have planned it any better. Then we walked around the resort, checking out the menu at the resort restaurant, and again decided it wasn’t worth the price. I told her stories of when I stayed there, and how Carlos Santana played with the lobby bar band one night. She had never heard of him. That surprised me little. Getting back to food, she said she would be happy going to one of the local small ones that line the beach road.

We got back to the car, drove to a cute little place, went in and had a great meal. I had fish and chips (Mahi-Mahi) and she was happy with chicken wings. Water was our preferred beverage. By that time it was pretty dark, and I asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else, but she said it was getting late and would just as soon head home. On the drive back up the volcano, she listened to her music on her phone, and I the radio. It felt very comfortable.

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The thing I realized about this date was there was no pressure. We didn’t struggle for conversation, we just didn’t talk when we didn’t feel like talking and it didn’t feel weird. I really wasn’t concerned with what I was wearing, I knew she wouldn’t care what I wore. I had on a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. I wanted to be comfy. There was no wondering how it was going, or did she like me, or if I had to burp or pass some gas, she would have laughed it off. (I didn’t need to). I also appreciated I didn’t have to spend a couple hundred bucks on dinner. She showed true concern not to waste money.

As we got back to the house and went inside, I was pleasantly surprised when she thanked me for the nice evening. She said she had a really good time and would like to do it again. I, of course, agreed and promised it would. The whole night was perfect, and I realized that it was the kind of date I have been missing. One where I could be myself, and she could too. I know I have never had a first date like that. I probably don’t want to gush too much about how much I enjoyed it. You know, that comes off strange sometimes.

Of course, it helps when someone knows you so well, and you know her the same. In fact, we are planning a night out tomorrow night again. It’s been raining for a few days, and we want it to be perfect when we go out for dinner again. Hoping for a spectacular sunset.

I can’t wait to take her out one more time before her brother comes back from his trip back to visit family in Minnesota. I know it’s not going to be too long until she doesn’t want to go out with me anymore. So I will take advantage of it while I can, because it’s rare to be able to have some alone time…….with my daughter.

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The Commute……………

You could see it on the faces this morning. The dreaded commute. As I sat waiting for my lane light to change from red to green this morning, I purposely looked in each car around me. I know you aren’t supposed to do that. (It’s an unwritten traffic jam rule).  I did it anyway. Not a smile to be found on the hundred or so faces I studied. In fact, the only two smiles I saw this morning was mine (I didn’t have to go to work) and what I think is a homeless guy about 60 or so walking down the side of the road in the rain with his dog. I say I think he is homeless because I see him almost every day walking on the roads with his dog and a huge plastic bag. Same clothes on too. Who knows, he might live in a mansion. He always has a big smile on his face.

I bring my kids to school three days a week. There are two High Schools within a mile apart where I drop my Daughter off. With almost two thousand kids between the two of them, and everyone trying to get to work, it gets to be a pretty good traffic jam. In fact, morning and night there is always tons of traffic here, not unlike a lot of places. Day after day the same cars, the same faces waiting in line, looking for a break. At least that’s what I think. Maybe most of them are just brain dead.

It takes me 55 minutes to make the round trip from home to both schools and back home again to drop them off. Twice a day, 1 hour 50 minutes of drive time, or 5 and 1/2 hours a week, 22 hours a month. It’s a commitment I am more than happy to do. It gives us time in the car together to talk and I enjoy it. But it got me thinking about all the time I spent in my working career. Just the 28 years in the car business, where I had to be at a specific location at a specific time every day. For those of you who don’t have this problem, then thank your lucky stars and enjoy reading about the rest of us.

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My first gig was a 45-minute commute each way. And I lived on a small island which you could only access by going over a bridge that was closed for boat traffic a lot. Sometimes I had to wait an hour or more, the longest was 4 hours. That’s an unusual situation, so I am not even going to count that time. I worked at this job for 8 years, 5 months, scheduled for 5 days a week. I worked a lot of extra days too, but not going to count that either. So for my 5 days a week, 45 minutes each way, I logged 450 minutes commuting, or 7 and 1/2 hours. In the time I was there, I worked 420 weeks, taking two weeks out for vacation each year. 420 weeks times 7 1/2 hours a week equals 3,150 hours. 3,150 hours is 131 days or over 4 months. That would be sitting in my car for 24 hours a day for over 4 months. And that is just my first job.

I won’t bore you with the math, but when I calculated the 4 dealerships I worked in, and the last one I was only 10 minutes away from for 12 years (OK, so we do get smarter as time goes by), I get a total commuting time of 6,933 hours sitting in my car over my 28 years. In real time, if you figure a working day is 8 hours, that comes out to be 866 eight hour days. 866 eight hour days figures out to be 173 forty hour weeks or 3 1/2 years. That’s right, 3 1/2 years of time I didn’t get paid for. If you make $40,000 a year, that is $140,000 of income you didn’t get by sitting in your car.

Everyone has to commute, right? If you read my “Prison Blog” you already know how I feel. No matter if you think it’s just the way it is, or my numbers suck, or you have no other choice. (Liars can figure but figures don’t lie). Many people don’t estimate the cost of commuting in what they are making. If you make $10 an hour for 8 hours a day, commute one hour total a day, then that $80 you are making a day is for 9 hours, or $8.90 an hour. And that is not considering what you spend on gas to get there. (Or the other vehicle expenses by putting miles on your car).  I know it may not seem like much or nothing you can do about it, but it’s a real fact of working which everyone needs to consider. If you do Yoga or pick your nose in your car during this time, then never mind.

I get the other side too. In a stressful life, I have looked forward to being able to get away for a few minutes or hours in my car alone. Whether it’s pulling yourself together enough to get through another day of work, or sitting in my driveway unnoticed for a few precious minutes instead of going into a difficult family situation. Maybe those 3 1/2 years were therapy for me to work the other 28. If that’s the case, then I guess it was worth it.

And for those of you who get paid while you drive, yeah, you know who you are (bus drivers, utility workers, government types) you take a special pleasure in slowing the rest of us down. You claim you have to drive careful and slow, company rules, but I secretly know you are just milking the clock. (I have been there). You can back up traffic behind you on a two-lane for miles for all I care, but when two of you get side by side on a four-lane and no one can get by you, I draw the line. And you can always tell when a company truck is driven by an owner. They are going faster than anyone else because they know time is money (to them).

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That brings me full circle back to those faces. There were basically two groups on the road at that time. Kids who were on their way to school (a lot of them drive to High School) and everyone else on their way to work. No one looked happy. And this is Maui for crying out loud. Is this the promise of a good life? The daily grind? I am as guilty as everyone else for many years.

So you think I am going to say just work from home? Ok, why don’t you just work from home? I know that isn’t really the answer for most people. It’s distracting, lonely, you lose people skills, and you are way to close to the fridge. It would be an emotionally unhealthy choice for many. One alternative is to look for something closer to home or move closer to work if the numbers work out.

The best thing is something I did for the first nine years I was in the car business. I listened to motivational and learning material on my commute. Then I got too smart and figured I didn’t need to learn anything else anymore, I knew it all. From what I can tell, there has never been and is not now a very big interest in doing this. My 3 1/2 years in the car could have been a college education, or learn a new language, or how to do anything. With all of the information out there, and with smartphones and car wifi’s, now more than any other time in history is the opportunity there to use that time for your benefit. You could even start a side gig and have time in your car to work on it.

This blog is not about answers. If you think I have any, then I know thousands of things that don’t work. At a job, relationship, life in general. What this blog is meant to be is a dialogue. My only hope is that I can affect one person a day to help ease the burden, make their life just a little bit better, save some sanity in a crazy world.  Whether it comes from me, or a comment someone sends in, doesn’t matter. I welcome your comments, and if you feel the message is good then please like and share on your social media. I know it’s a bit scary to put yourself out there and share something. Seems like everyone is looking for the angle, and bombard anyone they get their hooks into. I am not looking to sell anything (well, maybe my book) so don’t worry that I will hound anyone. And maybe, just maybe, someone out there has the answer that you have been looking for.

Tomorrow as I wait in line for the light to change, I’m going to look for a smile. And when I find it, they may be learning something new, or maybe they just saw me staring…..or just picking my nose.

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The prison……………..

The floors were hard. Some sort of commercial tile, the surface worn dull by the miles of nervous pacing in that eight by eight space. From a window I watched as people went about their normal lives, unaware they were being envied for the freedom they had. The chair was stiff, arms that supported in times of loneliness, anguish, and pain. I was grateful the ceiling was too high to touch, it gave me room to breathe when the walls closed in.

There were reminders of previous occupants, small bits of paper, a scratch or a chip here and there. It had the smell of unhappiness. Of valuable lives wasted in mindless tasks and dreams.

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I was alone in that cell for years, then a roommate was added, then another. Privacy was replaced by mindless chatter and the friction of differences. I counted the years, then the days, then the hours until I was released out of that hell. That’s the day I walked out of my job of 28 years. I was a cubicle prisoner.

Even after a year away from that job, I am still recovering from the amount of hours, effort, ass kissing, and destruction of my personal life that were given up for money. Sure, I appreciate that it afforded me what I am able to do today, but I am beginning to realize that had I chose to do something else, I would have been just as or maybe more successful. I made a choice to stick it out, working for the “Man” as it were, and justified it by claiming it was for family. It was and it wasn’t. I was paralyzed by the fear of doing something else and failing. Give up the desperately needed benefits for an unknown future.

I’m not usually one of those “If I had to do it all again” people. I live with my choices, and move on. Now looking back, however, I do regret that I sold out to the establishment, the way you are supposed to do things, instead of relying on my talent and skills to forge my own way. Sure, I tried a few things on my own and they didn’t work out. Maybe that’s what locked me into that cubicle hell.

I remember so many late nights driving past restaurants and bars where friends were meeting friends, families out for dinner, lovers locked in an intimate gaze, and I was heading home from work, too tired to socialize, too tired for my family, too tired for life.

I should have known early on that this career wasn’t the right move for me. I grew up with a self-employed Dad, who was very successful for a long time, lost it all, then never gave up hope or spirit until he got it back again. He always told me you will never get rich working for someone else. I now know what he meant. Sure, you might be comfortable knowing the bills will be paid, but you will never have that feeling of accomplishment and pride in making it the way you want it. That is what he meant to be rich.

Working for someone else, doesn’t matter who, is a death sentence for creativity, innovation, and spirit. You may be told to do what you want, when you want, but you are still under the control of another. I have had great bosses and lousy bosses. They are still bosses. And if you think for a minute that you are valued, then you need to step back and think about it. You are valued as long as it serves their needs, and when it doesn’t anymore, you are like a pair of pants that don’t fit anymore. You get donated to someone else or thrown out not to be used again. You don’t get to choose. Believe me, I have been in hundreds of management meetings where good employees have a bad month and are out the door.

My last boss told me to look around at what I considered to be my friends. He said there is no loyalty, they just want your job. Whether he was right or not, it showed me how valued I was. Just another piece of meat to chew. I mentally left after that. I no longer gave value to them. I was done.

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If you haven’t noticed, this world and this economy have changed. No longer are you given a position for life, that ended years ago. Everyone knows that. Now you can expect to change jobs, and careers, multiple times in your working life. And that isn’t all bad. You lose when you get too comfortable anyway. The middle class is shrinking. The rich are getting richer, with no intention of making life any easier for the poor. And the poor are scraping by with the cost of everything keeping them a slave to jobs that don’t fulfill the spirit, or use them to their full potential, just to keep food on the table and a roof overhead.

Is there an answer and a way out? Of course, but it takes courage and effort. The new currency is ideas. People don’t act the way they used to. People don’t spend their money the way they used to. If you want to be successful, you have to add value. If you add value, then money will follow. If you just stick it out waiting for something to happen, it will. And probably not going to be your choice. Driverless cars are taking away drivers. Drones are taking away delivery methods. The internet is taking away stores. Telecommuting is taking away traditional workplace jobs. Manufacturing is moving to cheaper labor. Underemployment is at an all-time high. A College Degree gets you an interview at McDonald’s. Open your eyes to the possibilities. Find a need and fill it. It’s a big new world just looking for opportunists. Old businesses need fresh ideas. New businesses need talent. There is so much money out there looking for answers, all you have to do is solve them. Doesn’t matter when you start or your age. Great ideas are ageless.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right”.

I gave 30 years working for the Man. I don’t want my kids to follow in my footsteps. I will encourage them to think with their brains to carve out their own world, one that gives them pride and satisfaction, and improves the quality of every aspect of their lives. That is my wish and my legacy to them.

Do I believe in the American way of life? You bet I do, more than ever. But the rewards have to be earned. And now is the time of the individual to earn them, not the corporation, not the status quo. Watch Shark Tank a few times, and you can see the need.

In prison I have heard you get three meals a day, free. In my cubicle, many times I was lucky to eat once, and I had to pay for lousy fast food because I couldn’t find the time to eat. I hear in prison, you get some time to exercise. I couldn’t in my cubicle, I was expected to be at the beck and call of everyone else who had an issue or a problem to solve. I gained weight and my health suffered. I got pills from the doctors for that. My blood pressure has dropped thirty points since I got out. A heart attack was not too far off had I stayed. I have never been to prison, but it doesn’t sound a whole lot worse than working a job you don’t like with no way out.

My time has come and gone, and now I am free. Are you?……………..

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The best time to buy a new or used car……

That is a question I was asked more than any other by people I met  (and still meet) while working in the car business. They were sure I had the inside scoop. From 28 years of experience as a salesperson and as a high-level manager, I knew the best time of year and month. I also knew what factors go into incentives and the Dealership’s position on when to run a sale on certain models, and when to take a deal or not. It’s a combination of a few things.

  1. Incentives: First and foremost, incentives amount to the biggest consumer discount available to get you either the lowest purchase price, the lowest interest rate, or the best lease rate, which will determine your payments. Unless you pay cash, it’s all about the payments anyway. Incentives come from the manufacturer (think Ford, Honda, Toyota, etc.) either as a direct consumer discount like a rebate, low-interest rate, or lease specials. The manufacturers also give incentives to the dealers as the form of dealer cash, to help move stale or too much inventory.
  2. Salesperson: Unless you have your own car guy, or have a friend in the business, your salesperson will be your ticket to either getting a great deal or paying too much. Salespeople are paid to sell cars, either by holding gross profit, or selling volume. That’s how they make a living and keep their jobs.
  3. Dealership: Let’s face it, Dealerships need to make money, just like any other business to keep the doors open. They have lot’s of profit centers, whether it’s the profit on the sale of the vehicle, the finance reserve (what they make off the financing), parts, service, accessories. They need to have the volume to stay in business.
  4. Vehicle Choice: Some cars are better than others. Some are more popular, hold more resale, have more or less supply, have more or less competition, and have too many or not enough Dealers. All of these factors can affect the selling price.
  5. Time of Year: Selling cars is a cyclical business. They have their slow months, and their busy months, doesn’t matter where they are. A lot of traffic is generated by Manufacturer rebates, and lease maturities (when the market gets flooded with off lease used cars).
  6. Time of Month: Depending on inventory levels and volume in any given month, the last week sometimes is a catch up to try to make a profit in a Dealership. This can work for or against you. They might be discounting their product more, but making up for it by increasing the profit in the other areas of the store.

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Whether you are buying a new or used vehicle, there is no one easy answer. Just like you do your research when you buy something off Amazon or eBay, you need to do that and more when it comes to buying a car. Spend some time communicating with several internet salespeople before you set foot in the door, and do your homework. They can tell if you do, and it will save you a tremendous amount of time and money. Don’t bother with buying services, you can get a better deal yourself just by shopping around.

Here is my cocktail party speech (Although I never go to cocktail parties) when asked when to buy a car. 

The biggest Manufacturer incentives come at the end of the year (think December) to get their sales ranking higher than others. (The brag factor). Try to get a hungry salesperson, the one who needs a sale, they will work the Manager for more. The Manager is the one who decides on the price, terms, and trade. Never go in the first week of the month. Everyone is tired from the previous month, and the end of the current month is too far off to worry about the results. You won’t be able to negotiate as much. If you are willing to be flexible on the model, try to pick something that they have plenty of inventory.  It’s a supply and demand issue just like everything else.

Never set foot in a Dealership until you have done your research, and have gotten firm commitments from several Dealers. If you walk in cold, your odds of getting a good deal go way down. Be careful of your car guy if you have one, or someone referred to. When you let your guard down and don’t shop to keep them honest, they will probably take advantage of that. It’s a well know fact that your previous customers are your highest gross customers.

Don’t let yourself get emotionally involved. If you fall in love with a car or think it’s the last one on the Planet, you just set yourself up. Car are like potato chips, they will always make more. If I can leave you with one thing, take your emotions out of it, shop the internet, and never take their first offer. You will never get the best deal until you stand up to leave or walk out. It’s that simple.

 

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Last and the most important thing. Read my book available on Amazon. $0 if you have Kindle Unlimited, $3.97 for a download copy, or $7.95 for a paperback mailed to you in a couple of days. (Who says I can’t sell anything anymore).

If you find this helpful, and know of someone who is looking to buy a vehicle, please share it with them. If you got something out of it yourself, please like. I appreciate you reading my post. Thank you.

Best of luck if you are getting a car, new or used. Hope you save a ton of money…..

Here is the link…………………..……..

Friends boring strangers…………….

How do you look for something on Google? If you are like me, you type something in you are interested in finding, like how to milk a cow, or which fast food restaurant gets the most food poisonings. But who in the world would look for “Friends boring strangers”?

I get a report every day that shows how many people viewed my blog, where they came from, and which pages and blogs they viewed. It doesn’t show who they are, or emails, so they are completely anonymous. It does show what country they are from, and I have had readers from China, England, Israel, India, Ireland, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Russia, and many others, mostly from Facebook I would assume. The other thing I had never noticed before because it had never shown up, was the search terms they used to find me. Here is the explanation. I had to look it up.

Search Engine Terms

These are the terms, words, and phrases people use on search engines (like Google, Yahoo, or Bing) to find posts and pages on your WordPress.com blog. These do not include the terms which your readers use within your blog’s Search Widget or any other search form on your blog.

Some search engines don’t reveal search terms for privacy reasons. Google, for example, has been encrypting the vast majority of search terms since 2013.  That’s why we often can’t specify which search terms were used by visitors who arrived at your site from a search engine. When we don’t know the search terms, we show them as Unknown search terms

My report had always shown Unknown search terms, that is until yesterday. If you look at the bottom, the search terms read “friends boring strangers”.

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I thought at first it was a comment someone had left. That stung a little, especially when you expose your emotions, and my thought was that maybe I am boring everyone except for a few good friends who give me encouragement. With that thought, I pondered the direction of this blog, or whether even continuing it, the rest of the day. Maybe I should just give up, or write stuff like everyone else about how to build a doghouse or get rich selling weight loss products.

Later in the day, I had to find out what this was all about. So I Googled it. “Friends boring strangers”. It came up with a long list of weird sites that don’t go anywhere, but if you click on images (where you get pictures) there is a bunch of porn and naked people. I can now only assume boring has an entirely different meaning than what I assumed it to be. (What came to your mind when I first mentioned it?) I went a few Google pages in until I clicked on what looked like the first real site, page 3, but my computer came up with a big alert about an impending virus about to get me, so I stopped. Apparently, “Friends boring strangers” might be a portal into the Dark Web or something.

It’s funny how fragile our egos can be to the offhand comment, a funny look, something we concoct out of thin air. This blog is good therapy for me (as Leanne pointed out) and just from something that had nothing to do with me, I almost changed it. A random search that ended up on my site.

Here is what it taught me. Don’t take anything at face value, because we superimpose our own beliefs on what we see and hear, whether they are real or not. If we are conditioned for deficiency, then that is what we see. If we are conditioned for failure, that is what we hear. The truth is there, we just need to separate our emotions from it to get the real meaning. I have never been very good at doing that, but if I want to keep writing about my life, I need to learn how to see the real truth. I keep dragging my past along and fret about a yet uncovered future. Today is what’s important. The past is gone, and there is nothing I or anyone else can do to change it. The future will come and be nothing like you imagine. Life is funny like that.

This new life of mine has given me a freedom I never thought possible. It has given me time that I squandered for so many years. It has made me more aware of my gifts, and of my flaws. It has made me appreciate being who I am, and it has made me appreciate others for what and who they are. It has made me appreciate friends. Thank you for reading my blogs. 

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Come to think of it, the way the internet works, I might get a lot more attention if I changed the name of my blog to…..”Friends boring strangers”.

 

 

Deep in thought…………..

In keeping with the spirit of loving me, I headed to the beach for a walk to get some exercise and walking meditation. (Where you think less than you normally do). I walked to the end, turned around, and as I retraced my footsteps in the sand, I don’t know why but I like to do that, I came upon a huge sleeping Sea Turtle that I had walked by a few minutes before. My previous footsteps came within two feet of it, and I never saw it. Talk about deep in thought.

What, you may ask, was I thinking about? One thing I need to work on is meeting and talking with people. My kids always tease me about being lonely and not having any friends. They are right. At least not here. I have never developed the skill (or had it come to me prepackaged as a baby) to walk up and meet strangers. My Son can have a best friend in 5 minutes anywhere. I’m proud of him for that. I always come so close, whether passing someone walking, standing in a checkout line, getting out of a car at the same time, or the brief encounter in the course of the day. Not that I don’t think about it, I do. I never say a word, and afterward, wonder how it might have gone, and did I miss a great opportunity. At least I am aware of it.

Obviously, I have met many people in my life, same as everyone else. I am trying to decide if my non-desire to reach out to meet strangers is because I am at heart an introvert, or is it a learned disorder arising out of my battle scars from relationships. I do know that when I lived and worked mostly alone on the farm, I was anxious to get around people. When I worked in a people-intensive business like the car business, I was happy to get home and away from everyone. Having a family and young kids tends to draw you away from others unless you have close family with kids or friends with the same.  I had neither.

After my last divorce and I was still in the “I have to have a relationship” mode, I joined Match. I went on a total of five dates that summer, four of them one time, and one had two dates. One was coffee, one was lunch, one was dinner and those three ended with nothing to talk about. However, I would like to tell you about my first and last dates.

When I signed up, I wanted to find someone away from the city I lived in, just for some privacy. Starting to date again is awkward, and didn’t’ want to complicate it by running into someone I knew. I  conversed with a few women by text and email, and one by phone. She seemed nice enough, had a cleaning business in a Minneapolis suburb, recently divorced she said, no kids at home. Her picture was nice and looked like she took care of herself. We set up a date.

Took about an hours drive, and the house was very nice and kept, in a good neighborhood. Two newer cars in the driveway. Maybe only a car guy notices that. I went up and was greeted by a woman who wasn’t her, and she called for my date and invited me in. She led me into the living room and introduced me to her husband. I sat down. In a  while my date came out, she looked nice (a few too many tattoos for me, but I wasn’t judging at that point). After some chit-chat, we left to a place of her choosing.

As we were driving on the street, we passed lots of interesting bars and restaurants, and I was getting anxious to see what she had picked out. We turned towards an outdoor restaurant, which looked great, and she told me where we were going was about a block past that place. It was a bowling alley, with a Karaoke Bar. Kind of dumpy on the outside, but I thought maybe it was nice inside. It wasn’t. And we were the only two there except for a very loud and poor singer.

The waitress came to take our order, they only had burgers and fries, and I ordered a beer, she ordered a soda. After the waitress left, she told me she was an alcoholic. But she was clean now after spending several years in jail, and just got out.  Did I say jail, I meant to say prison. And it wasn’t a couple of months in the slammer, it was a few years. She told me what she did but at that point my mind kind of shut down and it was so loud I could only hear every other word anyway. It apparently had something to do with a skunk of an ex-husband, and how he stole her business. That drove her to drink and do some bad things. Now her business was her and a couple of friends meeting at her house, which is a friend she is staying with until she can get a place of her own, and going off to clean houses. She didn’t have a license. I wonder if the friend and her husband were also searching for a date for her. They did look a little desperate and were really friendly to me. The final straw for me on the date was the story about her losing all her teeth in jail. Maybe it’s just me, but I like teeth.

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We ate our burgers in that dive, me wondering how long is long enough to be polite to end it. After some silent moments, I made my move, did a yawn attempt and said we better get going because I had to work the next day. Good thing she didn’t know car lots were closed on Sunday, well, maybe she did. We both knew this wasn’t going to happen. As I headed home alone, I thought, what a great story, but I am sure not going to tell anyone. At least not until today. Now I’m no choir boy and have done some things I’m not proud of. Maybe I shouldn’t judge too harshly, but I do have two young kids I need to consider who will be role models in their lives.

My last date was a couple months after that. Started the same, text and phone, and I went to her city to meet her at a very cool outdoor restaurant in a trendy part of town. She was pleasant, pretty, and well spoken. Nice new car too. This is going well I thought, so after walking her to her car after dinner, we both agreed it was worth a second date. The next date was the following weekend, and we went to a live play at a theater after having dinner, which was fantastic. I hadn’t been to a live play in years and loved it. I had picked her up at her apartment, and we sat out in the car and talked for a while when I dropped her off. We both agreed we should see each other again, and I headed home feeling like maybe there was some light at the end of the tunnel. The only uneasy feeling I got was her mentioning that she thought her ex was stalking her. We all have our baggage I thought.

We talked on the phone a few days after, and I mentioned I was probably going to cancel my Match membership. The next day I was searching on Match how to do that, and the phone rang. It was her. She wanted to know what I was doing on Match when I told her I was going to cancel it. I must be looking at other women and playing the field. No amount of explanation could convince her otherwise, and she hung up on me. Apparently, you can see if someone is online, and that flipped her switch. Needless to say, I have never talked to her again and canceled my Match membership too. I guess the only thing I feel bad about now is that I shelled out about $500 bucks for the two dates. I did enjoy the play, however.

In hindsight, I’m pretty sure they had a story to tell about me too. Sometimes you have to look through the other person’s eyes to get both sides. There was a reason that the connections weren’t made, and I wasn’t what they had in mind to fill the gap in their lives. They probably looked at me as some desperate, lonely older guy, grasping for air. And they would have been right.

That brings me to today. My curiosity got the best of me, and I went on Match to take a look at the available options in Maui. I feel that I have started to get a handle on my own life, and Match is a pretty easy way to start that task of meeting someone. Doesn’t have to be a romantic one either. Let’s just say my timing is pretty good to love myself, and not try to fill any loneliness with more drama. Of course, I didn’t sign up, but it did reignite some interesting memories.

I am aware of the fact I should connect with people here. My kids get it. They encourage me to open up and meet people. So for now, I’m putting “meeting strangers” down as first on my list and I will keep you posted, or blogged.

If I signed up on Match, found my profile and asked myself out, would that count? 

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I’m Falling in Love…………..

This week I took a little break in writing because I was falling in love with someone special. I can’t believe it took me so long to realize how special, how much in need of my love, and how it’s the love I have been searching for my whole life. And it was right in front of me, waiting for me the entire time.

After the initial giddiness and thrill settle down, I’ll get back to writing more. Right now I am deep in the middle of discovery, of promise, of hope. Somehow I have a feeling that this one will work out.

I have always tried my best in relationships. But when they ended, I always placed the blame on myself. That’s a lot of guilt. Then I would take what I think I learned, and apply it to my next one, and on and on. And when I loved, I was all in. My whole life was about pleasing that person, taking care of that person, giving up my needs for that person, at least that’s what I thought. I would imagine they didn’t see it that way. But inside me I did.

They say that some people are givers and some are takers. They are both trying to fulfill a need of their own.  I think it’s way too hard to categorize someone. People are just too complicated for labeling them as this or that. I have always labeled myself as a caregiver, but now I see that it’s more complicated than that, and it really only scratches the surface. I have always felt the need to place others cares, concerns, problems, shortcomings above my own. I think that makes me a good person. Unfortunately, I have only been fooling myself. I can see now that my need to care for someone is really trying to justify and outwardly express an unfulfilled need from my past or an empty hole in myself I’m trying to fill.

It’s inevitable that I ended up in the role I had in my 28-year career in the car business as a Sales Manager. To do that job, you have to care about everyone else’s livelihood more than your own, both your employer and the employees under your direct control. I can assure you it has cost me tens of thousands of dollars in those years doing that. The funny thing is, I was never thanked or appreciated because it was either an expectation, or it was an anonymous gesture that I never told anyone about. When you are locked in that mode for so long, there is no escape, and you become what you do. In all of that, I lost what it is to be me. It gave me a comfortable financial situation, but I suffered internally by my loss of identity and unfulfilled needs of my own. Maybe in some twisted way, I enjoyed making myself my own martyr.

When you love and are committed to another, whether it’s a spouse, a lover, a friend, kids, or a dog, you want to please them. That’s where I now know I have failed. I was doing things that didn’t please me sometimes, and just like my job, those feelings would fester and resentment would build up and eventually sabotage the relationship. Then, in a contradictory way, I blamed the other person for ruining my life. My, what complicated twists we concoct in our minds to protect our ego. Was I aware of this? No. I’m not sure I understand the whole thing now, but it feels that’s the way it was. For some people, they know what to do naturally to get their needs met, but not me.

I am working on forgiving myself for the guilt I have carried all these years. It doesn’t serve me anymore. The past is the past, can’t be changed, and by holding onto it, affects my future.  In order for me to fall in love, I need to move on.

I still take part in my caregiving role with my kids,  but there is no resentment attached to them. I truly love them with all my heart and soul.  The time they are with me I take care of them. The days and nights they don’t, of course, I still worry, but the caregiving is gone for the moment. That’s when I try to search for me. Sometimes it gets lonely.

The thing about loneliness. If you don’t love yourself and don’t like your own company, then you are lonely. If you do love yourself, and you enjoy the person you are, then there is no way you can be lonely. My Mom lived another 16 years after my Dad passed away, and she was never lonely, even though she never had another relationship. She loved her kids, her home, her books, her pets, and most of all, she loved herself and her life. No one could take that away from her.

Some say we are our thoughts. Others say we are the observer of our thoughts. Either way, our thoughts are in this human body with all its wisdom and foolishness. The things that got me here right here and right now are gone. How I go forward is up to my thoughts, either the commentator or the observer.

Why would I not love the miraculous human being that I am? There’s only one of me, and why wouldn’t I put as much effort in loving me as I would someone else? Don’t I deserve all things I would want for another?  I only have one life, and in it, isn’t the most important person in my life me? If I don’t truly love myself, then how can I expect anyone else to?  Is it selfish to love my life, and do whatever is best for me? I don’t think so. Don’t you deserve to love you too?

This week I discovered someone who needed my love more than any other, and I’m starting to like their company.

This week I started falling in love……………..with me.

 

A tourist at home….Part 2.

Today I thought I would do something a little different. Instead of heading down to Baldwin Beach for Drum Night, I went up the volcano instead to see if I could find an interesting spot to watch the sunset from high up. Like I mentioned before, I am at about 1200 feet above sea level. An area called Kula is about 2000 feet and about 20 minutes from my house. As I went up, It started drizzling a little which is usual for that area. I got out a couple of times at turnouts but really couldn’t see all that well. I turned around when I came upon one of those pumpkin patches for kids. Tons of people there. I really didn’t expect a pumpkin patch in Maui, learned something new. As I headed back down the volcano, something really stunk in my car. I was smelling the vents, opening and closing the windows, turning the air on and off. Still smelled, like mold. I figured something was wrong with the car until I realized it was me. My shirt smelled like they get when you leave your clothes wet in the washer for a few days (not that I do that). I must have folded it when still a little damp. Needless to say, I was relieved it wasn’t a car problem, just a me problem. Home I went.

I decided that maybe Drum night would be fine after all, so left for the beach about 2 hours before sunset. When I got to the stoplights to turn right, I decided to turn left instead. It had been so relaxing the night before I decided to go back to White Rock Beach, where I had been last night. Polo Beach (I have talked about that one before too) is one beach, or a few blocks closer, so I decided to stop there to check it out. This is the beach that shares access with one of the big resorts, the Kea Lani. I grabbed my chair and set up a very nice spot to watch the sunset, right in the middle where the hotel beach and the public beach meet.

This is what it felt like compared to my previous night watching the sunset. Not as relaxing to be sure.

 

I had been there (now there are a lot more people at this beach than the few last night) for about 10 minutes when a family being led by a hotel photographer set up shop right next to me. Now I can tell you right off, being a hotel photographer is not the job for me. That guy never stopped talking. It was the Grandparents, Parents, and two young boys. At least he didn’t have to remember their names. It was “Ok parents, your turn” “Looks great” “Smile” “Smile bigger” “One more shot” (Heard that one about 200 times. You get the picture 🙂 Finally after about 15 agonizing minutes listening to all that, they went farther down the beach.

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This is Maui folks, smile.

It was about 30 minutes until the sun would be setting, so I took a walk down the hotel part of the beach. There was the pale white chubby guy (with a red ring around his neck from his t-shirt) laying back on a beach chair, beer in hand,  talking business on a phone. Then there was the couple all dressed up with lei’s around their necks with huge pineapple drinks in hand (about the size of footballs). Then there were the three teenage girls taking selfies nonstop. Must I mention all the other cameras pointed at the water, something to remember their trip. It came back to me all the trips where I was one of them. I smiled a little.

Sunset was gorgeous, although noisier than the night before. I was getting a nice 3-minute video but the girls decided to be part of it and ended up getting them included. I packed up my chair, and as I was walking out, the young Hawaiian guy in a Sarong was lighting the hotel torches and blowing a big horn every time he lit one. There was more light coming from camera flashes than the torches. Further up the path to my car was a lone security guard smoking a cigarette and looking like he hated his job. Leaving the area in my car, there were tons of cars pulling out of the resorts, Friday night, and am sure they were heading out to restaurants and bars.

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Torches at the Kea Lani, Maui.

My kids are experiencing a staycation with their grandparents this weekend. I just got mine tonight. I think I will stay a local, and leave the tourist stuff for the…well, tourists.

I will leave you with a very nice video of a sailboat that happened to be crossing as the sun was going down. (P.S.  The sailboat was crammed with tourists).