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Friday, January 11, 2013

BTSe-mag January Issue

The new January issue of BTSe-mag has come out, and it’s a great one, including the new featured columnists on writing, publishing, the single woman, and novel excerpts. My new full page ad for LAYLA is in there along with my other half pagers. My friend Raine Weaver was nice enough to let me put her blurb for LAYLA in my ad, and she got a nice centerpiece spot. Thanks Raine!
I’ve also received a lot of great feedback on my short story THE REUNION, including more e-mails than on anything I’ve done for a while. Maybe it will help on sales with the other stuff. I’m sure it will help with name recognition. I have a funny shop encounter about that old cliché ‘giving back to the community’ for the blog today too. Here it is:
Since my work week had been busier in auto repair land, I’d put off the cleaning for a few days. As I caught up on my sweeping I was accosted by a couple of ambling sidewalk strollers. It’s been between 40 and 50 degrees in the shop, so I’m really moving to build up my body BTU’s. For purposes of anonymity my strollers will be named Heckle and Jeckle. This owing to the community thing gets hashed over at the shop every once in a while, usually when someone sees me cleaning my own shop. Heckle and Jeckle did a double take at my big garage door, seeing me doing high speed brooming, along with some cackles of enjoyment. It’s always nice to provide entertainment, and at my age, making someone laugh is a good thing. :) I won’t go into descriptions of my audience other than to say it was 10:30 AM on a Thursday, and they were three sheets into the wind. They were at least dressed warm to allay the blood thinning they’d been doing.
“Man… you been here a long time,” Heckle called out as he and his partner Jeckle strolled in.
I stopped to be polite, because I’m not around at my shop 24/7, and it’s not a good idea to be surly with anyone in East Oakland. “Yeah, it sure feels long.”
“When you start here?” Jeckle asks after he and Heckle cackle over my answer.
“1976. Some days it feels like 1956.”
“Damn… you work here alone?” Jeckle asks, looking around.
“Yep. It’s not a sterling location, so I’ve kept it a smalltime operation.”
“You need to get some help,” Heckle informs me. “How old are you?”
“62, and some days 82.”
More cackles. They liked that one.
“Man… you should hire… you know… give back to the community,” Jeckle observes.
Jeckle didn’t get the community word out very well, probably due to the hair of the dog antidote to last night. It came out sounding more like ‘commuty’. I had to pause for a moment as I wondered briefly if the subject had changed to commuting. Heckle picked up on it and his brows knitted as I didn’t answer instantly. He liked his partner’s admonition, and thought I hesitated to say anything because I was carrying guilt about the ‘commuty’.
“Yeah, dude… you got to give somethin’ back. People need jobs.”
Okay… I knew what we were discussing now. No, I don’t feel guilty. The community never gave me a damn thing. Oakland uses the water company, gas and electric company, phone company, waste management, and even the fire department to steal money from businesses in every bill I get. The state makes sure my property is never, ever owned. I pay rent to them in property taxes. If I get hurt in a one man shop or fail to pay even one bill/tax, I’ll be on my way to the street, and the community will shrug its collective shoulders. I ain’t givin’ back anything other than honest labor for an honest wage. I had no intention of getting into all that with Heckle and Jeckle, so I stuck with the facts.
“You guys don’t understand how things work in California for a business like mine. The minimum wage is 8 bucks an hour. State workman’s compensation charges for anyone working in my shop, either cleaning or fixing cars is nearly 9 bucks per 100 payroll. Add on payroll taxes, vacation days, breaks, sick days, health care, and possible injuries or accidental damages to customers’ vehicles, and hiring someone would be the same thing as shooting myself in the head. The days of letting someone come in and do cleanup for a few bucks ended decades ago. The state sends people around regularly, checking to see if I’m hiring workers under the table. If I did, I could be fined out of business. Sorry, guys, there just ain’t no money for the community. Now, let a brother sweep.”
I left Heckle and Jeckle speechless, probably because they didn’t understand even half of what I spewed on a subject that really sets me off. The understanding of what our entitlement system has done to the hiring of workers and business survival no longer exists. We here in self-employed business land have become the ‘blame all’ pariahs of a nation in the midst of welfare and entitlement bankruptcy. I had started sweeping again, but more slowly, waiting for Heckle and Jeckle to decide on whether to say goodbye or not.
My suspicions about understanding were confirmed a moment later.
“Hell… I’ll take 8 bucks an hour to help you clean up,” Jeckle tells me.
I stopped again. “Who pays the other thirty an hour it’s going to cost me to put the broom in your hand?”
The horse was dead, and kicking the poor thing would not get my floor swept. “Anyway, you guys have a great day. Be careful out there.”
This time I moved my sweeping butt further inside the bat cave. Heckle and Jeckle mumbled something and moved on. That’s one thing I never will be… three sheets into the wind at 10:30 AM. Having once been unemployed and in my twenties in California at one time, I knew from experience that was a job hunting no-no. Yeah, it felt more like age 82 yesterday.  :)


Charles Gramlich said...

It has gotten out of hand the control city governments have over this kind of thing. We still don't have the problem too much out in the country here where I live but it's probably coming. Heckle and Jeckle were looking for a hand out mostly sounds like.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It's at the critical level out here in California, Charles. We are the welfare and entitlement state of the union. The politicians all buy votes, promising more giveaways and entitlements - their source of payment for all of it is taxing businesses out of business or out of the state. Once they've succeeded out here, the rest of the nation will get a glimpse of what's in store. Once more than half of the population either works for the state, or accesses entitlements and welfare, we're doomed.

H&J didn't ask for money. I think they had the morning buzz going and wanted some entertainment. :)

raine said...

Weird. Seeing someone vigorously cleaning their place of business wouldn't make me think they could afford to have someone do it for them. But what do I know...

And that's a great-looking ad for "Layla", Bernard! The magazine's really looking good and the ad definitely drew my attention.
(and I was honored). :-)

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Years ago, that was my first thought, Raine. I think I may have even come up with a few sarcastic replies back in the day when asked about my doing the cleanup. :) It's happened so many times I figured people just assume I can't find anyone to do it, which is not true. The good part about the incident is that I haven't noticed anybody in Heckle and Jeckle's condition for quite a while since the bar closed up on the next block.

I told my friends at BTS I thought the LAYLA ad was the best in the magazine. Thanks for the letting me put the plug in. Every little bit helps, and you did read it on the blog and comment all the time so you had a part in it. :) If I'm around long enough, I'm going to eventually make a sequel to it. :)