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Do you ever feel like people appear in our lives as messengers to teach us fundamental lessons of life? We may not recognize the value of their wisdom at the time, but later we look back and realize they were sending us a message we needed to hear. A few years ago I had such a prophet appear to me in the form of a DC cab driver.
I was working late one night downtown and decided to take a cab home rather than the Metro. The taxi driver was an American black guy, probably in his late 30’s. I was pretty tired and sunk down in the back seat, but not 30 seconds into the ride, he started talking to me.
Cab driver: “What’s up, man?”
Chaco: “Not much.” I didn’t want to talk.
Cab driver: “Man, my girl was a BITCH last night” (he emphasized the word “bitch” in the way only a black man can).
Chaco: “Oh?”, I said meekly, really not wanting to hear about it, but it seemed he had a lot to get off his chest.
Cab driver: “Yeah man, a bitch! And you know why, right?”
Chaco: “Uh…No?” Because you’re the kind of guy who calls his girlfriend a “bitch”?
Cab driver: “Because I didn’t give it to my bitch the night before. You know bitches get all bitchy when you don’t give it to them, right?!”
Actually, no, I didn’t know that. How could I know? At the time, I had no game. Like zero. Therefore, my first thought upon hearing this dude complain about his woman acting bitchy because he had not “given it to her” was to think, “This brother needs some sensitivity training.” In fact, I even debated whether I should let him know he should be more sensitive to women. After all, not only was he calling his girlfriend a “bitch,” he was speaking of having sex with her rather crudely. In the end, I decided that my first priority was to get home safely and not pick a fight with this dude who might throw me out of his cab in a bad neighborhood late at night, so I retreated from the high moral ground and let him do his thing.
Cab driver: “Damn, them bitches get so bitchy when you don’t give it to them.”
Cab Driver: “I guess I should have just given it to her.”
Cab Driver: “That’ll teach my ass a lesson – next time, give it to the bitch or they get bitchy on your ass!”
He went on like this for the remaining 10 minutes of the cab ride. It was all he talked about and he never stopped. I made it safely home and I figured I should be satisfied with that, even if I did have to suffer through the rantings of an insensitive cab driver.
But then something strange started to happen. I began to tell my friends the story (in casual company) and expected to end up in deep debates about the state of gender relations in our society. Instead, I was shocked by the response of my female friends: every one laughed and said, “Yeah, that’s true.”
What?! Where was the outrage? Where were the calls for mandatory sensitivity training starting in 6th grade? I couldn’t believe it. In high school I had been one of those guys who thought girls didn’t enjoy sex. I mean, they were always saying “no,” so they must not like it, right? In college, I actually believed my sexual harassment training that “no means no” 100% of the time. I had always tried to be respectful of women, and being respectful meant not making any physical moves too soon, least I might “offend” them and they would think I was some date raping pig. The only girls I had dated to that point had basically thrown themselves at me.
Later on in life I realized that I needed to develop some game, and once I started making progress, the truth of the cab drivers words became clear to me. I have now come to believe that women care more about sexual satisfaction than men. Women may be pickier about who they sleep with, but once they pick you, they will want sex more badly than most men. It still kind of amazes me at times, but it has been such a consistent observation that I can’t believe anything otherwise.
Sometimes I still remember that cab driver and think the universe was sending me a message I needed to hear. My genes were at great risk of never being passed on, so the gods sent someone to plant a seed of truth in me. And since then, every girlfriend of mine has eventually heard the story about that cab driver and responded the same way: she laughs and says, “Yeah, that’s true.”
I was sitting in a Barcelona square when I heard screaming. I looked to my right and saw a little girl chasing pigeons with feathers. I grabbed my camera, turned it on, zoomed a bit, and then pointed in her general direction and prayed. I got lucky.
She did not catch any pigeons.
In Seville I walked with the hostel crowd to some bars off the Guadalquivir River. There’s a wall against parts of the river where you can sit down and relax, and we put ourselves next to three guys who were singing and drinking to improvised drum beats. These guys attracted more people than the actual bars behind them and it seemed like they weren’t even trying; they were just having fun. I was pretty mesmerized by them, especially the one in the white shirt who sang with so much energy that he was red and exhausted after every song.
When I came home from Spain, I was so inspired by their performance that I ordered an instructional book to learn how to play my djembe drum. I am sure I will open that book any day now.
This month has been the most visited since I started, with over 40,000 unique visitors. What does that mean? Actually, absolutely nothing. If I kept you in mind when writing, the content would be weak and homogenized.
At my first corporate gig I looked for a book that would help me cope and adjust to corporate life. I never did find one, but now after nearly six years I have figured it out on my own. These are my tips that make working for corporations a little bit more tolerable.
1. Put your back to your cubicle entrance and practice falling asleep with one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse. (Make sure you have a work-related document open on the screen.) This is easy to do if you have a chair that has a high back. There are two things to watch out for: (1) Your screensaver may activate while you nap, and (2) Your hand may smash some keys, making people who pass by you wonder why you have a screen full of G’s. When someone knocks on the frame of your cubicle entrance, waking you up, they will confuse your tired haze with deep and creative thought.
2. Assume you are doing a perfect job unless your boss gives regular feedback, which he probably doesn’t. When you are rated incompetent in several areas during your yearly performance review, go through the five stages of grief. They will admire the fact that you “care” and may not put you under a “performance management plan.” Bonus: Refuse to sign the evaluation right away, saying you are upset and need to think things through.
3. Do not get buddy-buddy with your boss. Rapport with you boss will just make it easier for him to ask special favors of you that do not translate into more pay. Stay distant: When he asks how your weekend was, repeat the same thing every week (“Oh I just sat around the house and watched TV”) until he stops asking. Instead, be nice to everyone but you boss. This way if he tries to fire you, everyone will chime in and say what a great person you are, weakening his power and making him appear delusional.
4. Be average. Do just enough work to not get fired but not so much work that they consider you for management. The responsibilities that come with management rarely makes it worth the often measly increase in pay. Plus if you are reading this right now you are not busy or important enough to be someone whose decisions will ever matter.
5. Always have one good idea in the bag if your slacking is being noticed by many people. Examples:
– Intranet wiki that never gets updated
– Employee suggestion box/committee
– Online bulletin board to post about lost keys
– A database of some sort
– A corporate blog
– Company-wide distribution of “Who Moved My Cheese” to improve morale
– A new system to streamline office supply ordering that involves laminated cards and an in-box.
– Quarterly newsletter with a section that features employee pets.
6. Contemplate killing yourself. Or, walk by the break room every 30 minutes to see if there is any leftover food, in the middle of yet another attempt to break your record of most number of times you can check your personal email in one day.