Back on Track

We were ensconced in the corner booth back by the men’s room in a little greasy spoon downtown, swilling Coca-Cola, staring at the rubberized remains of our Mexican omelets, and trying to figure out how to salvage what was left of my modest investment portfolio.

“Timmy, my boy, I’m afraid you’ve become the poster child for the feckless American retail investor,” Harry said. “Once proud as a peacock– some might even suggest arrogant— now humbled by the collapse of the equity markets and a breathtaking failure to diversify.” He shook his head sadly. “Ah well,” he said, “the path to riches is littered with the shattered dreams of the true greenhorn.”

If he hadn’t been my best friend since grade school, I’d have popped him.

“Thanks,” I said.

Scribbling as he spoke, drawing a series of neat little rectangles on a festive cocktail napkin, pausing now and again to suck another lungful of noxious gas from the damp end of a bent Winston, Harry coaxed the outline of what we hoped would become my salvation from the gooey blue interior of a 19-cent disposable pen.

“I really shouldn’t be your financial advisor, Timmy. You need someone with a fancy office and a fresh perspective.” He rotated the napkin 180. “What do you think?”

There amid speckles of egg yolk, dollops of salsa and the occasional cigarette ash, appeared a plan which argued in favor of index funds.

“You’re an exciting man, Harry.”

“‘Famous both for its low cost and low risk, the index fund should serve as the cornerstone of every nutritious portfolio.’ John Bogle, circa ’93.”

I ordered a slice of cherry pie. “What’s Junior up to?” I asked.

“Ah, Junior’s Junior,” he said. “Now he says he wants to become a taxidermist.”

 

That evening Harry tagged along with me to the high school booster club’s annual alumni dinner. The formal program opened with the usual litany of excuses by the coaching staff, followed by garden variety whining from the alumni.

Delmont Bartow asked if somebody would please explain the mysterious disappearance of the screen pass from the team’s playbook. “Gotta keep them D-backs honest, coach.”

Jimmy Del Rio piped up. “And how come we can’t find a decent kicker? It’s the new millennium, ain’t it?”

It went on and on, and then the lady who was head of the parents committee unveiled our new uniforms — they’d dropped the traditional navy and gold in favor of mustard and teal with eggshell piping. Well, I guess that settled it– next season our boys would look like Menudo! and be lucky to finish at .500.

I dropped Harry off at his house; he had to leave town early the next morning. “Industrial fasteners need to be sold, Timmy, and, by God, it’s me that’s gonna sell ’em.” Which meant he’d spend the next two weeks on the road, meeting with straightforward men in short sleeve shirts and tragic neckwear, each trying to weasel an extra penny or two per thousand out of poor Harry.

That night I looked over the battered remnants of our portfolio. I felt like a M.A.S.H surgeon on the Chosin Reservoir. I decided to follow Harry’s advice and try index funds.

Why not?

I drifted off to dreamland under the easy undulation of my son’s lavender lava lamp. As the relentless purple goo slowly ascended and descended inside its glass cone, I groped for insight into human nature, and a better understanding of the mechanics of gain and loss.

Instead, random images came to mind– the dog-eared ledger of an unbalanced checkbook, wet autumn leaves caught between the pickets of an unpainted garden fence, the hazy profile of a childhood friend. It was late in the evening, late in the game.

At some point, the cat came in and started chewing on the venetian blinds, and a moment later I heard Letterman’s intro on the TV down the hall.

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Eating Kenny’s Lunch

Kenny felt his only option was to accept the lateral move to a field office in Michigan, the corporate equivalent of banishment to a glass dome on the fabled carbon plateaus of Triton-7 in the Syphinctus-Zarloon sector of the distant Harboxis Galaxy.

I suggested he think it through carefully, stall for time, if necessary. I said he might want to attempt to negotiate a fat severance package or outplacement.

“They’re betting you’ll turn down the transfer, dude. They’re yanking your chain.”

“Yanking?”

Kenny was such an easy target– the runt in a litter of feckless staff support people encircled by wolves—and the wolves were very, very hungry.

It had come down this way: Kenny was supposed to stand behind the stage curtain at the annual sales extravaganza– Expo-a-Go-Go 2012 — with a flashlight and guide a series of company big shots one-by-one across a darkened stage to a podium. A spotlight would then bathe said honcho in brilliant white light… whereupon he or she would endeavor to inspire the assembled sales loonies to sell more stuff.

What can I tell you, Kenny got lost– he’ll be the first to admit he was never good with directions, wouldn’t know magnetic north from East Moline– and no one noticed that the little yellow circle spewing forth from his flashlight and cautiously inching across the stage was shanking far to the left and away from the podium… until the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing went ass-over-tea kettle into the orchestra pit.

“He actually bounced,” Tiny Boudreaux later told me.

And Kenny, if nothing but agile, had somehow managed to balance an extra second or two on the precipice before hollering, “Oh, shit!” and toppling right down on top of the guy.

His career prospects were said to have diminished substantially at that very moment.

“I saw him in the elevator yesterday,” Kenny said. “He called me a peckerwood.”

We were eating lunch in Kenny’s office, nibbling the peanut butter and crackers, tuna sandwiches, chips and cookies he always brought to work in a bag and shared with me. The company cafeteria– with its soggy meatloaf and daily floorshow of shameless political maneuvering– was a place to avoid.

“Last night I dreamt that Neil Cavuto and I were in a tree house eating bananas,” he said.

I made myself comfortable in Kenny’s chair, put my feet on his desk and savored a bag of salt and pepper kettle chips. “I finally found a carburetor for the Studebaker.”

We each munched away quietly, lost in thought, eyes glazed, staring off into the middle distance.

Jitterbug’s pregnant,” Kenny said.

“You need a fence around the yard, my man.”

“It’s that yellow lab from across the ravine,” he said. “I’m sure of it.”

My role was to provide white noise for a friend who was facing a difficult decision. I became the relaxing hum of an electric dryer on the fluff cycle.

“Oh, well,” I said. “These things happen.”

One time, everyone in our department had to take a personality test as part of a teambuilding exercise. The results were not surprising. My boss was a Driver-Driver (tough, results-oriented), I was an Amiable-Driver (friendly, results-oriented), and Kenny was an Amiable-Amiable (hopeless, utterly hopeless.)

He was not a go-getter, oodles of horsepower did not rumble within. Kenny was just a good guy who looked forward to Saturdays so he could horse around with the kids and cook shish kebab on the grill. His job was a means to that end. Driving the same car the same route to the same job for the rest of his life was his ideal scenario.

And so, it surprised me when he said, “Know a good realtor?”

And that was that. Kenny surrendered and took the move to Michigan. And a few weeks later there he was, sitting on an overturned plastic bucket on some god-forsaken frozen lake, fishing pole in hand, a fluorescent orange stocking cap pulled low over his ears, his skinny Irish behind warm and toasty compliments of the thermal undies and hollow-fill snow pants he’d received in a care package from home.

He stared off into the tree line for a long, long time paying no attention to the colorful plastic bobber dancing from side to side of a neatly augured hole in the ice. And after a time, after polishing off a two liter bottle of orange soda and a foot-long Slim Jim and some M&Ms, he began to doze, as, all the while, the fading afternoon sun seeped through the ice, illuminated a thin blue monofilament line and played off the intricate scales of a game little minnow, struggling, on a sleek, black hook.

God Bless You, Mr. Fancypants!

Boy, was Artie out of place in Fond du Lac.

He was a trim and tailored product of Manhattan, slightly built, handsome, 35 and single, with kind, dark eyes, a neat black moustache and a wry sense of humor.

Artie was a lithe little man and elegant– twitchy and high-strung– a raconteur, a gadfly… witty, urbane, sophisticated.

His custom made suits– European! — raised eyebrows in a town where a perfectly acceptable wool-poly blend retailed at Sears for under $100.00.

We started at Mercury Outboards on the same day, Artie and I. He was a trade show man, I was a young ad manager from Illinois. I liked him right away — how could you not like this meticulous man in tasseled loafers so comically out of place in the heartland? I called him Mr. Fancypants. He called me John Boy.

This was back when the recession had decimated the promotional agency business in the Northeast, sending scads of guys like Artie packing it across country, an Armani-clad Corps of Discovery in search of a steady paycheck.

Sadly, when dire economic circumstances cause one to uproot and transplant, outcomes are not always as hoped. And in fairness to Artie, no one could have conveyed to him the soul necessary to make a go of it in Fond du Lac. I’m talking soul of a depth, breadth and tensile strength beyond the capacity of most mortals.

Winters in Fond du Lac are cold enough to kill squirrels and send Jiffy Lube attendants back to night school.

Summers are short and feature frantic teenagers racing tricked-out firebirds and fluorescent Japanese crotch rockets up and down Main Street, disrupting traffic and frightening the elderly.

In autumn, busloads of Packers fans from Madison and Milwaukee breed resentment by stopping just long enough for a quick leak on their way to Green Bay.

In Spring… well, there is no Spring.

Then there are the locals– distrustful of foreigners, foreign things, new things, artsy-fartsy things and new artsy-fartsy foreign things.

And, of course, there’s the outboard motor business– peppered with swarthy men in racing jackets and polaroid sunglasses– an industry fueled by a rank mix of motor oil, testosterone and a dread fear of rising interest rates.

Artie just didn’t fit, you know?

He wasn’t into beer, bowling, polyester or polka… couldn’t handle deep-fried foods or demolition derbies… and was deathly afraid of insects.

He didn’t understand the lyrics, couldn’t hum the tune– and, to his credit, wasn’t the least bit interested in learning.

While we were all deer hunting or scraping barnacles off the hulls of our Starcrafts, Artie was camped out at a spa somewhere, packed in herbal mud with cucumbers on his eyelids, drinking highballs and trading yucks with masseuses named Rosalita, Simone and Günter.

Anyway, he finally ticked somebody off, and so one day a couple of big shots invited him to lunch over at the Cracker Barrel and fired him.

Afterward, as they approached our building, a security guard stepped out and said to Artie, “Sir, would you please wait here?”… and the other two kept walking and never looked back.

I ambled along a few minutes later, found Artie waiting for somebody to retrieve his personal belongings. He told me what had happened, said he hadn’t seen it coming. I told him I was sorry, that their methods were uncalled for, and that I thought he’d done a fine job, but was perhaps ill-suited to Fond du Lac.

We sat in my car with the heater running until they brought him his stuff.

He stayed in touch with some of us for a while, would call at Christmas from his apartment in New York City, chain smoking Salems and telling stories long into the night.

And then one year the phone calls stopped and anyone who tried to reach him heard a crackly recording on the far end of the line saying the number was no longer in service.

I hope Artie is still around. I hope he’s in his element, and I hope wherever he is it’s a good place… a place far warmer than Wisconsin.

Dangerous, Combustible Bob

He could throw the fear of God into you, that’s for sure. And it wasn’t that he was an imposing figure– any one of us could have pulverized him mano-a-mano, he being soft, puffy, even a bit girlish. But with his name way up the org chart and his nose way up the old man’s keester, he could pretty much have his way with us.

Bob grew the company through intimidation and force of will, was absolutely ensconced in his position, and had a jones for power which he wielded in the most astonishing fashion.

My compadres and I had kids, dreams, mortgages, responsibilities and a common will to hang in there until our resumes could circulate throughout the industry and carry us through the Valley of Death to safe havens and verdant pastures.

When Bob– Dangerous, Combustible Bob– wasn’t happy, heads rolled. You never knew when exactly he’d pop, but you knew it wouldn’t take much to set him off– a bad cup of coffee in the break room, a rude motorist on the parkway… maybe a hinky prostate. Whatever the reason, the explosion would be loud, violent and final.

One of the most effective weapons in his arsenal of pain was the sneak attack. He’d turn suddenly to an unsuspecting district manager, excoriate him in full view of his peers, call for a security guard and have the poor guy escorted from the office and placed– singed and smoking– into a yellow cab for the airport.

“I credit his nasty demeanor to brain damage,” Tiny Boudreaux once volunteered, “the result of a bungled vacuum extraction at birth, and I fully expect to receive a telephone call some foul winter evening with news that his remains have been discovered amid the rancid pizza boxes and discarded unmentionables in a trash hopper behind a Ramada Inn somewhere.”

Corporate legend had it that years ago a ravishing beauty had inspired Bob to cross four continents in search of adventure, art, beauty and truth– and had left him just before their wedding with a four-bedroom split level, two leased Volvos and a deranged cockatoo.

The engagement ring, a gigantic diamond set in a delicate base of golden rose petals, was said to have arrived a week later via Fed-Ex second day air, rattling around inside a band aid tin.

Which we thought was a pretty cool legend.

Anyway, however horribly he treated his employees, he was that much worse with vendors. One guy, fed up with Bob’s confrontational attitude and insulting behavior, stopped in the middle of his presentation, looked at us sitting in stony silence around the giant conference table, shook his head sadly, said “you poor bastards” and scooped up his presentation and waltzed out the door.

We all looked forward to resigning, and we’d hold going away parties at a little pub down the street. Bob had a policy of booting you out the door the minute you gave notice, so we’d encourage anyone who was going to quit to do so around four o’clock on a Friday… and let the games begin. It was fun at first, depressing after a while.

Well, we drifted away, one at a time, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes via yellow cab. We were big boys and girls and could tolerate our fair share of abuse, but this guy was way over the line and we simply wanted to live sans Bob.

Life’s too short, you know?

When I look back at my time there, I must say I enjoyed the industry and my coworkers, and it’s too bad a guy like Bob was in charge.

My theory is that with all the talented, hardworking people in the world, why put up with someone like DC Bob? Yes, he made the company successful to the degree to which it succeeded; but how much more successful would the company be if it were run by someone just as tough but not so mean?

I guess we’ll never know until Bob retires, combusts spontaneously or drops dead of rage. But I do know this: Bob developed within each of us a very low level of tolerance for bad behavior. I’ll bet every single one of us who worked for him will never again accept such treatment from anybody …or ever treat others as he treated us.

And for that, I say, Thanks, Bob.

Lean Bottom Round

We needed a butcher, a butcher’s butcher, a real cleaver heaver— a swarthy, hairy armed behemoth, thick as a side of USDA prime, big-boned and bubbling with testosterone.

A butcher with maybe nine fingers who could hack, slice, chop and whittle his way through a 12-hour video shoot, squeegee goop off a TRU-SEALED™ cement floor and be back at it eight hours later fresh as a daisy and reeking of Old Spice.

A butcher king in a red meat Valhalla, thigh-high in 100% USDA beef– thick sirloins, tender rump roasts, savory ribs, honest ol’ hamburger, flanks, tips and, oh yes, lean bottom round! And Nancy just wasn’t coming through.

“These guys look winsome, Nancy.”

“Hello? Mr. Ford?”

“Nancy, we are without butcher.”

“Mr. Ford… we’ve exhausted all the talent in town. Rudy Vostokovich would have been perfect, but his eyelids flutter since the motorcycle accident, and nobody else looks particularly butcherish.”

“Then bring in the out-of-towners! Spare no expense, child! Go forth to Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Burlington and Ottumwa! Scour Galesburg, Peoria, Springfield and Macomb! “Let me ask you, Nancy– do you know what goes on at a meat packing plant?”

“Can we talk about this tomorrow?”

“Acquire cow, terminate cow, reconfigure cow. Now, I have purposely glossed over the details– cow parts everywhere– and the blood! I’ve witnessed this and I will tell you, honestly, Nancy, even now I am haunted with flashbacks. It was summertime, you see, third shift at a dank little packing plant just outside of Des Moines…”

“Mr. Ford…”

“And, now, here we are with the opportunity to enter the slobbering maw of a meat-packing icon– Valley Packing of Oskaloosa– a major player!— to produce a video which will transform slaughter into a thing of beauty… and single-handedly reverse a ten year slide in domestic red meat sales!”

“Mr. Ford–”

“Which, as you can appreciate, no 12-minute video in the history of the universe can do. But the folks at Valley Packing haven’t figured that out! Not yet, anyway! They’re convinced a video, featuring your friendly neighborhood Butcher-As-Narrator, will ignite a– no pun intended —stampede of ravenous consumers to butcher shops and supermarkets throughout the tri-state area in search of delicious, high-octane beef.

“They’re going to the state fairs and the tractor pulls, the quilting bees and the Cabbage Patch conventions. They’re targeting high schools and Rotary clubs, AA meetings and aluminum extrusion expos. Wherever people congregate, Valley Packing will be there with our video, Nancy. This is big! Eat more beef, you lunatics! –that’s the word! And they’re paying us out the whazoo to spread it!

“So, I need a butcher– a butcher’s butcher, a real cleaver heaver, understand? A swarthy, hairy armed behemoth, big-boned and bubbling with testosterone… and you keep sending me tapes of Carlisle McDufus and Farley Arbuckle.”

“I understand, Mr. Ford– you want a butcher.”

“Nancy, are you aware that beef production in the United States will top 12 million tons this year?”

“I’ll have the reels tomorrow.”

Tons, Nancy. Now that is a boatload of beef!”

“Bye.”

I popped one of Nancy’s cassettes into the VCR. A skinny guy with bad hair and a toothy grin read from my script. “Welcome to corn country!” he said.

 

Nancy found our man over in Centralia, Illinois, a real butcher, it turned out, who looked like Ernest Borgnine and knew his way around a carcass. We cleaned him up, gave him a run-through on the teleprompter and turned him loose.

A natural. Women swooned, grown men cried.

Valley Packing ran with Beef: Cut Ya’ Off A Big Ol’ Slice! for nearly five years and we used it on our promotional reel forever. Snappy dialogue, twangy original score, the latest transitional bells and whistles.

The video won a coveted Silver Stunner from the National Meat Packers Association, and, of course, we became the toast of the 4-H circuit in lower Southeastern Iowa and a little patch of West-Central Illinois. Heck, we were famous for a while all the way from Indianola across the river to Highway 67 and on down to Rushville.

Those were the days.

So, in many ways, it was a win-win as we say in the ad game. And, funny thing– what with all the hoopla, nobody seemed to notice that beef sales in the U.S. continued downhill faster than a fat kid on roller skates.

Giant Orange Dinosaurs and the Blessed Sisters of Mercy

I found Jimmy Todd’s office in an aging strip mall out in Woodstock wedged between Carol’s Cut-Rate Daycare and Bobbie Abandando’s Wonderful World of Wigs.

I’d been told Dr. Todd is the man when it comes to interpreting dreams, and I hoped he might shine some light into the darker recesses of my shopworn psyche, put a sock on the colorific menagerie of images and intrigue currently crowding my nightly REMs.

The old standards were back in all their glory– dreams I’ve lived with for ages and experience in clusters– smart-aleck midgets with duplicitous intentions and sorry one-liners, gigantic orange dinosaurs chomping on lush foliage along the river in Chattanooga, ill-tempered Sisters of Mercy with their malt liquor and fast cars.

Every night I host a weird assortment of walk-ons, dilettantes, rubber-neckers, pimp daddies, exhibitionists, arsonists, moonshiners, morons, ‘ner-do-wells, pinheads and posers who show up unannounced to run roughshod through my dreamsleep like a busload of juvenile delinquents at a Chuck E. Cheese. Who are these interlopers and what do they want from me?

Dr. Todd is himself an odd duck– a twitchy little guy, serious and guarded. He looks a bit like the actor John Cusack, if John Cusack were to age 20 years, lose 40 pounds, crawl across the Sahara desert without water and tumble down an elevator shaft. You can have your $300.00 an hour Buckhead shrinks with their hyphenated surnames and fancy diplomas. Give me a guy in Hush Puppies with a boatload of facial tics and a few issues of his own. He’ll pay attention.

“Tell me what my dreams mean, Doc.”

He cocked his ballpoint, readied a legal pad, “Fire away!”

“The first one I call That’s Show Biz! It’s early in the twentieth century, and I’m part of a vaudeville act known as Billy and Skeets. I’m onstage before an audience of non-English speaking immigrants. My partner, Billy, juggles a pair of crimson bowling balls and plays Yankee Doodle on a kazoo while peddling a unicycle across a tightrope. Down below, I, Skeets, circle the stage on rocket propelled roller skates, my hair ablaze, hurling knives at an enraged monkey…”

“Goodness!”

“… and in the wings, the world’s tallest man arm wrestles a not unattractive bearded lady while an albino midget leers at me from beneath the brocade curtain.”

“Wow… are there others?”

“There’s the one I call The Birdman of Shady Acres. I’m flying stark naked over my subdivision as the board of directors of our homeowner’s association fires on me from down below with BB guns and bottle rockets. It’s about my refusal to mulch.”

“Hmm-hmm.”

“There’s Hey, I Just Work Here! I’m at my desk when a new guy asks me what’s on the other side of my cubicle. I realize I’ve never bothered to look! I’m mortified, make a feeble attempt to switch the discussion to Olympic equestrian– but it’s immediately evident I know nothing about horses! I’m led to the elevator in handcuffs.”

“Oh, my!”

“It goes on all night long, doc.”

Dr. Todd scratched his chin, scanned his notes. “Most of us wonder, occasionally, if there isn’t something… bigger, more colorful, more important that we ought to be doing with ourselves,” he said. “We imagine a higher calling, but never pull it together enough to define what that calling might be. Dreams can reflect the chagrin we sometimes feel in our subconcious. It’s embarrassing to miss destiny by a country mile, no?

“Dreams relieve frustration and help us cope. Besides, who wouldn’t like to toss darts at a monkey or stick it to the neighbors? No worries, Tim. Get some exercise, take your wife on vacation. You’re fine.”

I felt refreshed.

But, as luck would have it, I stopped for gas on the way home and the kid behind the cash register really creeped me out. He had this great shock of green hair and a really huge gold earring and a horrible scar under his left eye. He looked like some kind of futuristic space hooligan… and, sure enough, later that night he took me hostage aboard a galactic cruiser bound for the notorious Korova gulag out near the Carpheidian sapphire mines on ZTON-999, and all I had was this giant flyswatter, see, and some kind of alien goo was dripping off the walls…and there was this monkey… and… well, … it was an arduous journey… and another long night.

Down the Hall

I’d banged around the southeastern United States for three weeks attending endless collegiate job fairs in search of bright-eyed, entry-level go-getters to feed the corporate maw.

And now, all that stood between me and the deepest recesses of my well-worn La-Z-Boy were 21 freeway exits and a quick detour to the boss’s alma mater where I’d pass out a few brochures, grab a quick lunch and hit the road for home.

I set-up our tabletop display inside the student center, sandwiched between the local marine corps recruiter, a hardcore square jaw by the name of Sgt. Booty, and a dental supplies distributor whose sales rep looked like Jimmy Hoffa.

“You guys are doing a bang-up job,” I said to Sgt. Booty. I didn’t know what to say to Jimmy Hoffa, so I gave him one of our new promotional giveaways, a fluorescent tournament-certified, pro-style yo-yo, The Yo-Yo Show Pro™ from Show Yo®.

Most of the kids passing by seemed more interested in lunch than career planning, which gave Jimmy Hoffa and I time to chat.

“I tell the youngsters there’s money in dental supplies and they say, ‘Not sexy enough.’ Ha!”

“Yeah,” I said, “our line of award winning industrial compressors doesn’t do much for them, either.”

I wandered down the hall to see who else was exhibiting. There was a financial services company, a software developer, a department store– and an outfit that rented cheap furniture to gullible people with bad credit.

And, of course, down at the end of the hall, where all the action was, were the big boys… with their fancy booths, expensive giveaways and attractive benefits packages.

A human resources guy from AT&T was knee-deep in applicants– young, vital people inexplicably eager to work for the phone company. The UPS, Coca-Cola and Home Depot booths were likewise under siege.

I gave the company pitch to the few students who came my way, but the traffic was definitely down the hall. I nibbled a Payday bar, tossed back another Dr. Pepper… and recalled the summer evening years ago when Maggie Muldowney and I went skinny dipping at good old Lake Spivey. She eventually married Artie O’Donahue, the mortician, and every so often I see them driving a van with a bumper sticker that reads: I’d Rather Be Embalming!

“Compressors, huh?” A young fellow in a t-shirt and baggy blue jeans was perusing our product catalog. “Man, look at that rascal!”

“Biggest in its class!” I said proudly. “You know, that particular model–”

“Awesome. Well… bye!”

“Would you like a yo-yo?” Too late– he’d upchucked the plug and disappeared into the lily pads.

That did it. “Well, young sergeant,” I said to Sgt. Booty, “time to pour the coffee on the campfire and call in the dogs. Good luck to you, son.”

As I rolled down I-75 toward Atlanta, I dictated the closing passage of my travelogue into a micro recorder.

“And so it goes… from Beale Street to the Natchez Trace… from the Great Smoky Mountains to the hard-scrabble peaks of Appalachia… from the tidewater plains of the palmetto state to the frenzied spectacle of metro Atlanta… we find students dazzled by the lofty promises of the Fortune 500.

“Yet, smaller companies such as ours offer breadth of experience… greater responsibility earlier in one’s career… visibility… and the feeling of accomplishment known to those who build rather than maintain.

“It is therefore incumbent upon us to enthusiastically tout the advantages which define a career within the smaller business enterprise. Plus, we might want to pop for a decent booth and lose the yo-yo’s.

“And so, as the nurturing springtime sun slips into the bosom of the north Georgia foothills… with heart soaring in anticipation of home and hearth… and collegiate job fair duty purged from this humble man’s to-do list—from somewhere near Chickamauga… I bid you good night… and God-speed!”