Have you ever met somebody who owned a business, or had a top spot in its management chain and wondered....."How on Earth did this idiot get that position?"
As a young grunt worker, these people always befuddled me. I couldn't comprehend how such incompetence could align with success, but as I've gotten older, I do believe with all my heart that 1/2 the people who hold positions in the world are bumbling dolts.
This doesn't mean that these folks are bad, it just means that they stumbled onto an acorn that fate has relegated to them. But, fate can be a cruel mistress, and often times shes willing to take things away from you much quicker than you obtained it.
Back in the day, I was working at a shop that was run by a collective of entrepreneurial people who couldn't make a loaf of bread if their life depended on it. The concepts platform was really strong (for a small business) but unfortunately the owner died of a heroin overdose.
Within months,the company was purchased and the son of the biggest cash cow in the ownership group smiled because this said purchase landed himself a baking position.
We'll call this guy Jimmy Stone, and Jimmy was in his mid 30's, father of 2 and certainly had a case of halitosis like I had never or since seen.
Nobody was really certain of his employment history, and since all he wanted to talk about was his turbulent past which consisted of a series of years that were divided by chasing personal whimsy, while gang banging on the West Side of Capitol City.
Jimmy Stone didn't mean harm to anybody, if you caught him on a calm day you could actually have some fun. The following are just a few of the events in his life that we found entertaining.
One day I came into the shop and told the boys that the Saint Paul Police Department sent Officer Friendly over to my sons elementary school and they did a demonstration that was geared at raising young kids awareness of drugs.
The cops had a 10 foot long table set up in the lunch room and it was covered with all kinds of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Jimmy Stone had a glazed look on his face when as I mentioned this. When I asked him why, he just shook his head while panning rolls and told the crew about a little mishap..........
"You know Klecko, those dopey F-ing cops came to my daughters school. My kids go to Catholic school ya know, so there was teachers, Nuns and a bunch of parents from the neighborhood at that God-D drug presentation right? One of the officers opens a bag weed and stuffs it into a big a** bong and lights it up so the kids can smell it. When the s*** starts flaming, they started fanning the smoke across the auditorium while telling the kids that this smell means trouble, and if you smell it...you should run and tell your parents or a law official. Then out of the blue one of my daughters raised her hand, and when the cop asks her if she has a question she just says "No I don't have a question, but I am going to have my dad call you because he goes down into his woo dshop ever night and that smell gets into our house. I don't want the bad guys to get my dad."
Klecko, the F-ing Nuns were on the phone pronto and I got my a** called in and I had to lie my way out of my daughters comments, I'm pretty sure they didn't believe me,but how were they going to prove it. I really hate that F-ing Officer Friendly, I think it should be illegal for him to pester our kids.
THE FAUST THEATER
In Minnesota, snow can drop hard, fast and wet. Often times if you have an important engagement you'll want to leave much earlier than usual to compensate for the unknown conditions. Your E.T.A. won't just hinge on the level of the weather, but what part of the winter it is, and how much money the city has budgeted for snow removal.
On one night like this we were short a couple people who were still en route. Those of us who were there worked at a reasonable pace, our thought was that we didn't need to burn ourselves out, there was a good chance we'd be snowed in, so why not get paid for it huh?
The only conversation I remember from that evening was Jimmy Stone telling us of one of his famous sexual exploits.
"You guys think it sucks getting stuck here, that's nothing. I'll tell you whats really nerve racking, try get stuck behind the Faust Theater."
For those of you who are not familiar with this place, it used to be a porno theater on University Avenue in Saint Paul. The neighborhood is run down, and for decades this part of the city has been home to our cities newest immigrant groups that will be forced to wade through the Twin Cities politically correct caste system..
Prostitution and drug sales were always strong in this neck of the woods, and coincidentally.....this iconic show hall rested within the shadows of our proud state capitol.
"Sometimes I'd tell my family I was going off to work, but I'd head over to the Faust and spend a good chunk of time (and cash) there. I remember once when it was snowing out at a really good clip. I went in to see a movie, but ended up watching a double feature. Afterward s when i decided to leave, I went back to the alley where my car was parked. There was a whore standing back there, and she told me that she would give me (some attention) if I would give her a ride to her place. I decided to do it... so we went back into my car, but after I was done and it was time to go, my car was stuck.I tried everything but I couldn't get it out. The b**** was really pissed at me, but what can you do. Usually for s*** like that I call my brother in law, but you can't call him when your parked someplace like a brothel. I ended up calling a tow truck, but I ended up having to wait another 3 hours and spending over $100. I'm just glad I didn't buy the sex, I wouldn't of had anything left for the tow....then I would have really been F-ed"
One day as our shift started Boss Man came in and told us that he hired 2 experienced bakers from a rival bakery that went defunct. The Boss Man marched them into the production area (much like you would live stock) and introduced the new hires by name while reminding us that hours were limited, and nobody was guaranteed a sure 40.
The shop wasn't union, and tactics like this used to be common. If you wanted to keep your position....you were always pressured to maintain excellence. Although I was never in the school band, I imagine it was a lot like trying to hold the top chair for trombone or clarinet.
When Boss Man was walking away, he stopped turned around facing us again and pointed to the shorter of the 2 and told us that he was a pretty good card counter in Vegas, and was really sharp with numbers so basically each and every one of us were getting called out.
When new guys get dropped on you, the baking standard is that current employees don't really talk to them, include them, or God forbid help them. These pricks are like scab umpires in the MLB, if all parties concerned stayed in the same shop, it wouldn't have been unheard of to not talk to each other for years.
Stone hated newbies more than anybody. No matter who flew into our nest, he knew they would be a better baker than him. But, with that said, you still have to run the shop in a fair manner, so when the new guys join your crew it is only right to show them there tasks and at least give them the briefest instructions, but Jimmy Stone had something else on his mind.
"Hey card counter, so you're a Vegas guy huh? I don't play a lot of cards, but I like to go to the Chicken Ranches out there. Do you ever visit the ladies, or are you just about the money?"
The card counting guy started rambling off a list of every house of ill repute and every woman who was employed by them in the state of Nevada. Stone was so impressed by this that he Judased the crew and ended up hanging with those 2 clowns for the rest of the night. When the card counting dude found out Stone was married he asked how he molded his wife to let him spend so much time alone in Sin City, Jimmy's answer was so Jimmy.
"S***, I never go alone, I always take my wife, but just like in cards I imagine, you gotta have a system. What I like to do is catch an afternoon flight, by the time we touch down and check into our hotel she is pretty tired. So then I push her into going to the buffet where I encourage her to try a little of this, and indulge in some of that. After desert she can barely keep her eyes open. So that's when I tuck her in and encourage her to take a nap. I tell her I'm going to do some low stakes gambling, but actually I have a limo waiting for me to take me out to my date."
As he told the new guys this, it wasn't said in a bragging kind of way, just matter of fact. I gotta admit I thought the system was flawless, and in a sick way I was impressed. Not so much because I wanted to try this, but because this immoral ruse actually took some thought, and I had worked with Jimmy Stone for awhile and he stilled struggled putting 2 dozen rolls on a pan.
So the next time you start a new position, or even a new career, remember just because somebody else owns it, or has a title, it doesn't always mean their skill set is stronger than yours. Who knows, if you're in Capitol City.....they might even be related to Stone, he has a large family.