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A First Disaster

Sorry about the lack of postings. The holidays, combined with my own laziness, produced insufficient bloggings, not that many of you care.

My last post, an alarming 22 days ago, mentioned the possibility of a first sale. My bandmates expressed interest in what happened, since no update was available they were left clueless, as were the rest of you.

Anyway, a little refresher: A small convenience store needed some lights changed in their parking lot. After several hours I managed to get a truck to go out the next day.

I called Paul, the owner of the store, and told him we’d be there the next morning. I went to bed early, excited for newfound cash, and wanted to wake up early. The company with the truck, Lighting Maintenance, said they’d be there at 7am and would call me when they got there.

At 7:15 I hadn’t gotten a call so I headed out the door to see if they had arrived. The place, a Speedy Mart, was right around the corner, a few minutes drive at best.

When I got there the place wasn’t open so I waited across the street in a Home Depot parking lot. I thought that way when Paul showed up to open the place he wouldn’t think someone was there to rob him first thing in the morning. At 7:30 I called Paul to see when the Speedy Mart opened and he said the manager should be there at any minute. The manager showed up a couple minutes later. Lighting Maintenance still hadn’t arrived and I was beginning to think that I might be sitting here all morning. Luckily, I was wrong. Continue Reading »

A first sale?

Maryland is cold  and rainy. Last week I was in Florida nearly all week, thus the lack of posts. Coming back to a bout of 20 degree weather was depressing, to say the least. Now, though it’s a bit warmer, it’s rainy and has been so for three days running.

The cold wetness just seeps into your pores, it invades my very psyche, and puts me in no mood to work. I can’t say I enjoy it, not in the least. But I can’t slow down, hell, it’d be impossible to since I haven’t sped up.

The Friday before I left for Florida, December 1st, I went out and did some cold calling. Bel Air Rd is my haunt and I hit nearly every business in four different shopping centers. My luck was depleted, I felt, and, orderless, I went home. I told my wife I wouldn’t show my face again until I sold something, a promise broken in a mere four hours. I’ve been out of work for so long, nearly five months, that I’ve forgotten how to sell.

When I worked at Terminix I beat on doors all day long. Maybe 35 cold calls a day. A sale, in this type of business, is predicated upon being in the right place at the right time. I guess, in a way, all sales are. When I sold for Hagemeyer being in the right spot was important, but here, essential. The more cards, the more faces, the more luck. This is simple math: 1 Card X 100 Faces = 3 orders or some such. 35 calls a day X 4 Days a week = 140 Cards handed out X 3% = 4 sales. Anyone could do this sort of thing, I’m convinced. In fact, I’m convinced because of one simple fact: I haven’t worked at Terminix in 3 years and I still get calls. Used to be I got one monthly. These days every three months or so. My old cards are out there, floating around because I beat the street. Someone will get mice and remember my card sitting in a desk drawer, they’ll call me.  Always happens. You can create luck this way. Continue Reading »

A Vegan Spouse

Well, I’m not vegan but my wife is. I’m a vegan spouse, I guess. She’s pretty good at being vegan, a lifestyle I don’t really understand. I go with the flow, ya know?

So the other day I run into a gas station and she asks for a snack. I pick up a granola bar. When I get back to the car I hand it to her. As always, she peruses the ingredients before any ingestion takes place. “Honey” she gumbles.

“Yes” I reply.

“No. Honey. There’s honey in this.”

“You gotta be kidding me. You can’t eat honey?” I ask exasperated.

“No”

“&!%@. I mean, they’re bugs, right? And they don’t kill them. Or pen them or anything. You can’t seriously….”

I’m on the receiving end of “The Stare”.

Okay, okay, I understand. So I ask her, later, when this kind crap comes to mind. “So you can only eat organic?” I ask in my most un-sarcastic voice, which indicates absolute sarcasm.

“No, I can eat unorganic stuff.”

I candidly point out that anything that is not organic has used vast amounts of pesticides, thus reducing entire insect civilizations into rubble for the sake of an apple harvest. She looks slightly aghast. I mean, I know she prefers organic and we buy a lot of it but this vegan conundrum had escaped her.

I also point out that virtually any crop harvested in any way has disrupted the soil, any colonies, earthworm dens, and the like. Hell, I bet a gopher or two has been killed by farm equipment during the planting of corn.

All of a sudden it occurs to me, the very act of creating food anywhere has probably claimed the lives of animals.

My wife goes a little pale. All of a sudden she realizes her chosen diet has created a virtual holocaust of any creatures that live upon the ground. However, I soon begin to think that my diet of hamburgers and chicken sandwiches results in fewer deaths of living creatures than any vegan diet. My burger is the death of one cow, split among dozens of people. An apple, on the other hand, is perhaps the death of thousands of bumble-bees, ants, worms, centipedes, and the like. I imagine John Deere as a sort of Farmer Hitler in overalls, huge hulking beasts tearing across the land while spiders run in terror.

Then again, I have a wild imagination.

The search for Vendors

I thought it was odd. Here I was in Spartan Chemical, waiting to meet with Vinny, the hoarse-voiced manager, to meet with me. On the phone, he sounded like a shady New Yorker, a mob hitman that had smoked one too many cigarettes. I was nervous about meeting him. And while I paced back in forth in Spartan’s lobby I noticed that everything was covered in a fine coat of dust. The irony is that Spartan’s big movers are cleaning supplies, yet here I was looking at toilet paper holders, floor polishers, soaps, and Swiffers caked in the leavings of human flesh (for that is what dust mostly is) that a drill sergeant wouldn’t even bother breaking out one of those white gloves before throwing his charges into a holding cell.

Scott, the man behind the counter, eased my apprehensions about Vinny. He’s in his late 40s and wearing glasses and a sweater vest. He could be Mr. Rogers’ replacement on a sick day. He’s kind and jokes with me while I wait for Vinny. Worked here a while, he informs me.

When he shows up, Vinny’s voice matches his looks. Early 50′s, perhaps. A little short, dark skin, pudgy. He could be in a mob movie. He goes on and on about how hard this business is. How many types of trash bags there are, how many different types of soaps. How some soaps won’t fit into other soap dispensers. Sounds like a pain in the ass to me. I have to know this stuff, though, so I bear Vinny’s complaints and frustrations about his business for nearly an hour, the whole time trying to keep myself in good spirits. Shit, I’m a salesperson, not a shrink. My job demands me to remain in high spirits.

When it’s all said and done, I take some literature on supplies I can now sell, via a sub-distributorship, out of the hundreds he has. I never do get around to reading them.

James, from the power-washing company I want to sub work out to, says he’ll meet me after I get out of Spartan, just call him. But there’s no answer. I head off to Best Buy for a couple minutes of Guitar Hero and staring at things I cannot afford right now. Best Buy is like porn, I suspect, to me. I think I notice some drool coming out of the side of my mouth….mmm….big screen….

James does call, and we meet up at a Starbucks a couple miles north of Baltimore. He’s youngish, early 30s probably, and owns his own business. I respect him. I try to make some idle chit-chat but he wants none of it. He’s nice, but gets down to business. The D.I.S.C. Personality training I’ve received pegs him as a “D”, a personable guy who takes charge and wants it done now. He wants me to sell his service. The meeting is over in less time than I waited in Spartan’s lobby. I like James. Straight-forward, down to business, no time for nothin’ but making money; he’s got a business to run.

All this went down last Monday, the tenth of November. I had a meeting with a sub for pest control on Thursday as well.

I meet Rick down in Arundal Mills Mall. He too, like me, was a Terminix guy. He just got out on his own in January and he’s eager to do some business. Specializes in commercial stuff, perfect. Duclaw is a good spot with some happenin’ beer but neither of us orders any. Over the course of 90 minutes we talk. Rick is an “S”, he values safety and hard work and wants to treat everyone kindly. S’s are the labrador retrievers of the D.I.S.C. world. All in all, Rick seems apprehensive about me subbing out for his business and I leave feeling like I never sold him. “Let me ask my partner” and “I don’t know if I am comfortable with you pricing out my work.” All this tells me that I could follow-up and maybe things will pan out, but guys who are uncomfortable tend to stay that way.

I hit the phones looking for someone else to sub pest control through, then my brain catches fire and I remember BNI. BNI that has helped me grow, whatever business I am in. BNI gave me the contacts to get a better job when Terminix had cut my pay so drastically. BNI has put me in contact with people to help start this new venture. So I hit up the Maryland BNI Trade Directory and after a brief search find Carnell. We set up to meet Tuesday the 18th.

Carnell is 40ish and owns his own pest control company. We meet up at the Coffee Junction in Catonsville, a quaint little place with good coffee and nice home baked pastries. I have a cinnamon bun with chocolate…mmm. Carnell is leery of restaurant work, but wants to give it a go. I respect that. He’s willing to pay me too, so that’s a plus. We talk for nearly two hours trying to figure it all out. In the end we make a pact to try this thing for a month or two and see if it flies. I can handle that.

It’s interesting to meet all these people who own their own businesses. It’s not easy to start, run, and make a profit. Some people in this world make it seem like business owners are cheap bastards just trying to take of advantage of whoever they can. From what I can tell, business owners are cheap and finicky. Yet, what most people see as CEOs and business owners trying to take advantage, I see as them trying to make a buck. The difference between a business owner’s view of money and the common man’s I suspect to be great. Your everyday guy going to work sees money as a way to pay bills, buy things, and survive. But those that drive business look at money as something else altogether. We hold the purse strings and see how much there truly is. We don’t view our companies as bottomless pits of wealth. We look at money as a way to get more money and don’t part easily with it. If we cannot turn 1 dollar into 2 we probably won’t spend it. Most people want to take their cash and go to movie, maybe buy that new big screen at Best Buy. But here I am justifying buying Carnell a coffee as a legitimate business expense.

I’m cheap. And that’s why I have a shot in hell at succeeding. If you want to spend money, get a job; if you want to make it, start a business.

Patesco’s Logo

A couple weeks ago, I contacted my friend Josh Clarke. He’s a twenty-something dude with some crazy dreds and he sings in this insane metal band, Seventh Seal. I highly recommend them. Also, Josh does some graphic design and me, being poor and all, asked him to design a logo for me. I told him to not work too hard (remember the whole “poor” thing) and he whipped up some designs in about a week. (For the record, he said it’d be a day, but you know guys in bands…  ; ) )

My wife said I should post them on Survey Monkey and make a little focus group. (Speaking of “focus” has anyone see Hellboy II? Fuk-uused. HA!) Anyway, I made a survey which shows how intelligent I am at operating computer programs made for absolute idiots. You should take my survey and let me know your opinions.

Click here to take my logo survey focusy group thingy-ma-bobber

It’s not hard and I have a good prize or two for you. I have lots of other stuff going on too, but I do not have time to post today.

A Day with Dorky Writers.

My mother-in-law mentioned a writers conference the other week, one at Towson University. I can’t say I was stoked but I felt this obligation to go since I’m writing a book and all. I guess Towson being rated number 2 in hotties a few years back didn’t hurt either.

I got out of bed early. It was about seven on a Saturday morning. I got in the Element and headed the five miles or so to the college. I parked in a nearly empty parking garage, somewhat fearing for my safety because college parking lots are where gang rapes occur, or so I thought. But then I remembered that it was 8:30 in the morning and all the college kids were sleeping off their drunken stupors from their wild orgies the night before; I felt a little safer.

I made my way up to the third floor of the Student Union building via an elevator that smelled of hydraulic fluid. Upon Entrance I saw my mother-in-law chatting with some other ladies on a couch in the lobby. I stealthily made my way past to where they were hiding the breakfast, a Blueberry Danish and a coffee for me. I set them down at an empty table. There were vendors in this room with the coffee and spent some time talking to two fellows at the Maryland Writers. One guy was medium build, clean cut, neat. The second, taller, with scraggly grey hair and that energetic-sleepy look that is oh so rare.

“What do you write?” I ask the hyper-sleepy man.

“Fantasy”. I saw this coming a mile away.

“Cool, what have you written?”

“Well, I just had my first novel published” He hands me a bookmark with a well drawn picture of a girl with some sort of yellow fire coming out of her hands. The title is, fittingly, Ursula the Yellow.

I get back to my coffee only to see some other dude stirring it. This was confusing. What’s this dude doing to my coffee? Probably putting rufies in it, I suspect. All these writers are so weird.

Back out to talk to my mother-in-law and her new found friends I find myself surrounded by middle aged women. Indeed, women at the conference out-number men 4 to 1 from what I can gather. We engage in idle banter about their writing of sex scenes and the embarrassment they feel when their children read their works. We make many jokes that I have written on my nametag “The Amazing” so now it read out, in its entirety, “The Amazing Tim Baer”. All the ladies seem to get a kick out of this and constantly make jokes about it. I get the feeling they might be making fun of me.

The keynote speaker was Larry Doyle, a former Simpsons writer. While all the other presenters are dressed in suits and ties Larry looks like he rolled out of bed. His grey hair is unkempt, his shirt is buttoned to reveal a t-shirt with a cartoon monkey on it. He looked tired and he delivered his speech with a dry wit that would be hard to match. He had said his goal in life was to become a “famous something” so he didn’t have to sell anything but in the end he had to sell his books. He wanted a “couch job”, a job he could do from his couch. I guess I feel the same way, Mr. Doyle. We’re both lazy pricks, probably from the same crop where God harvests us before birthing us into this world. Mr. Doyle, therefore, is my brother.

I went out on the roof-patio and talked to a writer named Ed Palmer, who writes poetry. He was a big boned guy, with a gotee, in his late twenties, like me. He told me he wanted to coin the word “extween” which is like the opposite of between. Apparently the only way to say this concept is “on the outside” and extween would be simpler or something. Look, more power to you goofy writers and your fascination with all things wordy and what-have-you. The rest of the world thinks you’re weird but we owe you one. In the end Ed and I talked about fantasy football which I felt was much more interesting than writing.

I went to a lot of seminars, but the one I really to go to, Creative Non-Fiction, I left. This is due to the fact that the room was small, it was standing room only, and it was about 50 degrees and I was standing below the A/C vent. Speaking of this, you know what gets my kilt in knot? There were about half dozen women sitting on the floor, most of them older. And there were nine able bodied men sitting on chairs. Now, maybe I’m old fashioned, but “STANDTHEFUCKUPANDGIVEAWOMANYOURCHAIR,MAN!” Men don’t sit in chairs while women sit on the floor, that’s bullshit. I was on a standing room only bus back in August and saw the same un-chivalrous shit going on. In fact, when a couple people got up two young men jumped into the seat they had vacated despite the fact that there were women standing right next to them. You offer the ladies your seat in times like these, guys. Man up. Ugh, I want to punch someone.

The only other class of interest was Blogging for Bucks hosted by an ex-Baltimore Sun reporter with a blog on dogs. This is really nearly journalism on dogs, it’s good stuff and a little silly. Bruce A. Jacobsalso hosted the forum. He has written such notable works as Race Manners and is a fierce African American Liberal. It was nice to hear about his blog for the first ten minutes or so of the forum, but gradually his non-stop grating on all things race related made me want to walk out. I wanted to hear how to blog for bucks but instead was subject to hearing him use the phrases “racial discourse” or “political discourse” about three-hundred and twenty-seven times in a 90 minute time span.

In the end I learned I need to be wittier, as I can be. And I took really good notes, marking them by the hour and including tons of stuff. Maybe you can tell the difference in this post, maybe not.

Busy is good. Slow is bad.

Week 4.

Money Made: $380.05

Money Spent: $167.73 (This week: Ream of Paper, Little notebooks)

Current Balance: $212.32

I’ve decided that this blog needs to be wittier. I don’t know what to do. I can be witty, see here. But perhaps because I look at this blog like a diary, jotting down notes and keeping track of what is going on I come off as boring and unfunny. I cannot keep that up if I want you to come back, right?

I guess $212.32 isn’t a bad total. But I need more money. Coming into week four I feel like I haven’t made much progress but, truth be told, I’ve been busy as hell this week.

On Wednesday morning I woke up at the unGodly hour of 6:15. What the hell, am I a farmer? I drove all the way to Pikesville for a BNI meeting at Fuddruckers at 7:30. When I got there no one was there except for a Mexican dude cleaning. The doors were locked and I couldn’t figure out what to do. But then I remembered there was another meeting about a mile down the road, so back in the Element and off I go! (Zoom, Zoom) Continue Reading »

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