The Signpost up ahead …

January17/ 2000

…Mizzus Swagger had a boffo idea a few months ago – a parttime job to earn some extra Christmas cash.  “Retail sales” would be “fun”.   The words “sales” and “fun” never go together UNLESS you are a Cowboy cheerleader selling girl scout cookies to all the partners in Daddy’s law firm.  The hirer at the “Cohen-Mart” stressed “we are just one big happy family here” … RED FLAG – RED FLAG – RUN AWAY FAST … too late, she fell for it. … AND YES … a BUNCH OF March Dancin’ stuff …

“Where’s BobLee” was the “Where’s Waldo” this week as YOIL was AWOL.  Actually he was in “The O.C.” – Newport Beach CA.  (Enough abbreviations in that sentence to totally confuse any newbees?).  A multi-day business excursion to the quintessential SoCal coastal enclave turned into a chance to flush the topical radiator.  SSays was teetering on the brink of regressing into Loon-bashing 24/7 and we needed a few days to “de-loon” ourselves.

No one in Newport seemed to give a flip about Craig Littlepage or Tommy Burleson’s mondo bizarro choice of “David” as NCSU’s next BB coach.  There was some talk about “Brackets” of course … and we did discuss the California University “system” aka the primordial ooze from whence crawled Molly Broad once upon a time … and wherein Foxy Mary Ann now resides.  We got a chance to check out Cal-Irvine … pretty place.

The #1 revelation from our trans-continental excursion was “Red-eye flights in coach” rank right in there with giving Meezie a pedicure.  BobLee is still virile and frisky enuff to pee his initials in new-fallen snow … but officially “too old” for “red-eye flights in coach”.

We’ll provide a March dance update in our notes at the bottom, but first, a rock-em sock-em yarn from the Swagger Family Chronicles.


      Maybe you actually “get along with” your co-workers and hopefully even “like your job”.  There’s no law on the books saying you can’t or shouldn’t.  There is, however, a “natural law” that puts “occupational contentment” right up there with “Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak” and “Carolina winning a National Championship in Football”.  They all COULD happen but “the Lottery” is a safer bet.

Mizzus signed on at “Cohen-Mart” (a semi-fictious regional chain).  The Cheshire-grinning Asst Mgr harpie grabbed her signed application and muttered something that, in retrospect, could have been “I’ll get you my pretty… and your little dog, too”.  The Mizzus was so excited about the 25% employee discount that she did not see the fangs and claws sprouting from “Beulah The Bitch”.  I did; but maybe this would be the one place on Earth where labor and management did not play Palestinians vs Israelis every day of the week.

Over supper, Mizzus breathlessly updated me and Kid about her “new adventure”.  I’m going to be in the boutique section and I get to help shoppers pick out pretty clothes and with my keen sense of fashion I just know I’ll have fun plus I get a 25% discount on anything I buy”.  Try saying all that and see if you’re not breathless.  Kid caught my eye.  “We’ll talk later” I whispered.  “For now … don’t rain on Mom’s parade.”

Later that night, Kid and I had a private moment while Mizzus selected her wardrobe for “her first day of work”.  

“What’s the over and under on this one, Dad?” ….. 

   “If she makes it to Thanksgiving I’m Millard Fillmore’s love-child” I replied.  ….. 

“That bad, huh”.  …… 

   “Even worse than when we signed you up for those Tae-Kwon-Do lessons, Kid”.  ……. 

   “Dad, we agreed to never speak of that ever again.” ….. 

   “Sorry, just making a comparison.”  ….. 

   “Good night, Dad” ….. 

   “Goodnight, Kid”. 

A little background on The Mizzus.  She is a 20+ year decorated veteran of the American workplace.  She’s filled six leather Day-Timers and enough briefcases to start her own diplomatic corps.  Her academic credentials are awesome.  Meaning a lot of time wasted in academia that would have better spent had she joined the Navy or backpacked across Patagonia.  Who knows that sad reality at 18?

She has sold a beaucoup of “ads” in her day.  She sold these beaucoup of ads for a rogues’ gallery of brigands, charlatans, reprobates, shysters, philanderers, and a guy name Dan in Worcester Mass that used more F-Bombs in a day than Coach K fires out over a full season.  Some real doozies.  She also worked for Raleigh’s “Mr Super Citizen” Jim Goodmon who was far and away the best of them all (and the only one likely to ever hear this story).  But God designed us “in His image”, and unable to remember “pain”.  God did that as a special favor to clumsy dentists and for anyone who has to sit thru a 3rd grade dance recital.

Mizzus had taken a one year sabbatical (without pay!) “from the workforce”.  With the hope that springs eternal, the clarity of those 15 out of 20 years of occupational root canals had faded away.  She slept the sleep of the naïve and optimistic.  Was it not conceivable that over those 12 months, mankind had indeed finally mastered the simple science of co-existing harmoniously in a vertically-integrated management matrix?

I, on the other hand, made a list of milk, bread, batteries, and toilet paper as my inner doppler sensed “a nasty storm” was headed our way.

Kid and I got up early and toasted Mom a Pop-Tart and poured her a Diet Coke in a go-cup – The Breakfast of The New Millenium Working Woman.  Annabelle the Cat watched suspiciously, perchered on the arm of the sofa.  Annabelle had November 16 as her “day Mom tells’em to shove it”.  Kid had Nov 22 – it was a bad day for JFK but maybe a winner for Kid.  I had more faith in my life’s soul mate, drawing December 2.

Y’all can guess what happened.  That “one big happy family” at Cohen-Mart was about as “happy” as 20 cats tied by their tails to a clothesline in the rain and zapped with a cattle prod every 10 minutes.  Mizzus’ “keen sense of fashion” was incredibly helpful to a milleau of customers who were all very appreciative.  Providing incredible customer service and upselling with all sorts of accessories was, alas, NOT what Beulah had in mind for a floor salesperson … nor what her fellow, less productive floor sales ladies, much appreciated either.

In BeulahWorld, the primary functions of the employees at Cohen-Mart are to (1) catch shoplifters and (2) not get caught shoplifting yourself.  Not necessarily in that order.  Beulah has terminal acid-reflux, a childhood spent locked in a closet and fed worms, and really bad halitosis (from eating all those worms).  A lot of grossly butt-ugly people are really bad managers.  So are a lot of attractive people too but the % is less.

Cutting to the chase … the week before Thanksgiving Beulah caught Mizzus Swagger upselling accessories again and “got in her face” in the middle of the store.  Bad idea Beulah.  Cohen-Mart is only a mile from our house but in that short distance, Mizzus imbedded her fingerprints in the titanium steel steering wheel of her Camray.

   Mizzus is my Guinevere and I her Lancelot.  I immediately offered to go down and kick the immortal crap out of Beulah.  A plan resoundly seconded by Annabelle The Cat but vetoed by Kid who was on the “Turn the other cheek” chapter in her Bible Study.  We took a vote.  It was unanimous that Mom should “tell’em to shove it” via a written letter of less than one page to Beulah’s regional manager to be written that night, but not mailed for a minimum of 48 hours.  I have written 9 such letters in my own career, actually mailing 5 of them.  Kid found the whole ordeal as unsettling as when she learned that Dad had an earlier Mizzus before “this Mizzus”.  Dad tries to forget that one too.

So much for Mizzus Swagger’s retail sales adventure.  She passed her Real Estate exam a few weeks ago.  To celebrate the occasion I bought her a little die-cast Lexus, a toy Blackberry, and a bottle of fire engine red nailpolish lacquer.  Annabelle The Cat is worried that a Real Estate Diva might not clean out her litter box. … Stay tuned!


Swagger’s Stumper

 What “League” did Wild Thing play in 

before he joined the Indians?


(ADDED Sunday Night … 2nd halves sunk both UNC and NCSU … more retrospection in our next column)

   All three Triangle teams advance to Round 2 … which adds oodles and oodles of intrique to The Herb Question. In Lee Fowler’s mind there is no “Herb Question” but alas, ’tis not the case in the Lupine hinderlands.  Lupine Elongated Legend, Tommy Burleson’s suggestion of David Thompson as Herb’s replacement set a new standard for “really dumb suggestions by a really tall guy” but certainly ramped up chatter among the goggle-eyed crowd. …….. the embattled “current coach” facing “the peoples’ choice” to replace him (Rick Barnes) is waaay too much delicious irony to contemplate.  Barnes is “the Wuffie Spurrier” … reports of clandestine meetings w/ “his people” and a high end local real estate purchase are surely next … bwahahahaha!

   If Craig Littlepage purposely arranged this Herb V Rick battle, it’s the first time he’s gotten anything right this millenium. 

   Over on Franklin Street, Chevrolets have officially replaced Hondas as the auto of choice for mob destruction.  Madison Avenue has decided that THIS YEAR’s big water cooler topic will be “that %$^&$ Krzyzewski’s car ads“.  Based on frequency of placement so far, we are likely to see Mike The Pitchman hawking chevys AT LEAST 879 more times over the next three weeks.  Outside endorsements were a factor in the Fall of The Valvano Empire … huuummmmmm!

   I haven’t checked the cemetary in Lawrence KS but methinks Ol’ Doc Phog is aspinnin’.  Bill Self’s 2nd Annual First Round Loss To A Whozit Starting With A “B” is now official.  If the Jayhawks draw Belmont in next year’s first round, go w/ the Bruins for sure.

   Ol’ Roy dodges Izzo upping the chances that The Golden Children make it into the Sweet Sixteen. 

A quick Franklin St poll of Who is George Mason?” revealed …

   36% – That waiter at The Rat with the glass eye.

   22% – Alexander Julian’s significant other.

   17% – No clue … but whoever he was, he was NOT “a terrorist”.

   15% – The guy in charge of hanging jerseys “in the rafters”. 

   10% – The guy who taught Mike Krzyzewski the word “ludicrous” as in “the very ideas that (1) I control the brackets … or (2) work refs … or (3) don’t have a legitimate coaching tree are LUDICROUS“.

    Put new batteries in the clicker and order in a messa wings … sixteen more carriages will turn back into pumpkins in the next 24 hours.

Want to e-mail BobLee?

[email protected]

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