Me being a …

Don’t complete that heading just yet…Wait for it…

Here are ten things you may or may not know about yours truly:

  1. I’m 42 years young. (And look as ravishing as ever.)
  2. I’m married to a spectacular Wife. (Who happens to be superhuman.)
  3. I have two teenage kids. (Who only becomes irrational when I use the word “No”.)
  4. I am employed.  (Steak and wine doesn’t come cheap.)
  5. I train on weekdays. (What else would I do at 05h00 in the morning?)
  6. I have friends. (And not just Facebook ones.)
  7. All four of my parents are still alive.  (And they thrive on love and attention.)
  8. I blog. (If one considers blogging to be posting the randomness that is my life.)
  9. I sleep at night. (As there is no time for that shit during the day.)
  10. I’ve decided to enroll for an M B A.  Post graduate.  I started on Monday.

And that would probably make me a good candidate for a mental institution. My life is clearly not complicated enough. What was I thinking? I must be a humongous sucker for punishment. OR maybe it’s just a subtle cry for help…

Whatever the reason, it’s just Me Being A

Meet Hilda.

Being alone is never as painful as when  you have to dine on your own but men are men and men must eat. Steak. And I am not suicidal, so I refuse to have dinner in my hotel room. There is something fundamentally wrong about a person sitting down to have dinner by his lonesome self. It must have been how leppers felt in biblical times. Outcasts, sitting on a dump, scratching their open, puss-filled wounds. Shit, that is disgusting and do you mind, I’m trying to eat over here…As a business traveller I am quite accustomed to this form of social torture and more so because I never dine alone. I always have company.

Let’s call her Hilda. Continue reading

In the land of sand

The land of sand is much less romantic than it sounds.

It’s a land where a custom official might actually smile and give you a hearty welcome as you pass through.  It’s a land where most of the scattered buildings are painted in different shades of beige.  In the land of sand you will certainly die without a working air conditioner.  It’s a place where the citizens converse in a language that basically sounds like they’re having some kind of phlegm attack.

It’s the type of place where the captain, before landing the plane, warn all passengers that it is illegal to carry alcohol on your person. Never mind drinking it. Continue reading

Some people don’t like me

I know right?  Who can believe this to be true?  A nice guy like me?  Evidently one cannot ignore the facts.  And this is no cheap trick to get you to read my post. Not that I usually employ cheap tricks.  I don’t need cheap tricks.  In a house with two teenagers I can barely keep up with all the shenanigans, even though my posting schedule suggests otherwise.  An unfortunate thing called life is getting in the way of me posting frequently.  Yes, I agree, the bastard. How dare he?

Getting back to the idiot person who doesn’t like me.  After paying a fortune on counselling, my psychiatrist agreed that I am now mature enough to accept the fact that not everyone will want to share a bottle of wine with yours truly.  I’ve met such a person face-to-face.  A guy who told me, in no uncertain terms, that I am arrogant.  The funny thing is that if he bothered to get off his judgmental, high fucking (sorry kids!) horse, he would come to know me and realize that I am indeed arrogant.   Continue reading

In the land of Mickey

Nothing happens.

Especially when you’re without children.  Or when you’re attending a conference.  You just hang around with a bunch of middle aged businessman who’s trying their best to survive and make a million  bucks.  (Did I just refer to them as middle aged business man like it was a disease?  For the irony of that comment would be that if it was a disease, I’m suffering from the same condition. The survival part, not the making millions…)

The hotel I’m staying in is just another building scattered amongst several other buildings and trees (and I mean a LOT of trees…) lined along the entry points to the Wonderful World of Disney.  Entry points that will gladly take a hundred US Dollars from your wallet, give you a fake smile and thank you for your patronage.  I’m so close I can even see that giant golf ball from my window. Continue reading

Hitting Perth, Laughing off Melbourne and Spending Sydney – all in one week

I’ve been quiet last week.  I know.  I’ve been working.  Not that I normally don’t work but this work entails the normal shit of flying, meeting, hotel.  Rinse and repeat.

I went down to the land of Oz, and looking back I understand how Dorothy felt.  Arriving in a hurricane and leaving shortly after.

I arrived in Perth on Tuesday after a really pleasant overnight flight.  *Insert sarcastic laugh*  I’ve got nothing to say about Perth, cause there is really nothing to say about Perth.  On second thought, maybe there is one thing.  My total unabashed amazement at the unfriendliness of the customs officials.  I’m convinced that there is a check box on the application form that immediately gets you the job.  It asks for (1) No personality and (2) A physical inability to smile.

OK, that’s a bit harsh, and I know that not all custom officials are that unpleasant, but this rule would imply to all the officials at Perth International Arrivals.  And if their sunny disposition wasn’t enough, I had the pleasure of seeing them working at the speed of a snail.  On a slow day.  Did I mention how great my overnight flight was?  Fortunately I didn’t have my bags search,  so that’s confirmation I don’t look like a criminal.  Just a grumpy traveller after an overnight flight that took forever.

Melbourne on Wednesday.  And Melbourne was better.  It’s pretty, and it’s a very astute word for describing the city.  Kinda camp, but kinda true.  Something Wentworth Miller would say, seeing that he fell out of the closet as well.  Don’t judge me, especially if you haven’t been there.  It is was it is.

Chinatown in Melbourne...Who knew?

Chinatown in Melbourne…Who knew?

Those who are frequent visitors to my ramblings will know I love stand-up comedy.  It has to be good stand-up, for even a lonely traveller has standards.  So I seek out comedy clubs, like moths hunting light.  And when in Melbourne, that’s one thing you have to do, check out the scene.  The selection on a Wednesday night, would be considered, putting it mildly, dismal.  (I was disappointed, expecting the city to prepare for my arrival)  I found one tucked away in China town.  A second floor dungeon nestled in a side street. When I walked in, I freaked out a little.  I consider this a normal reaction when the chandeliers of any venue are made of bones.  Scenes from Hostel was flashing through my mind.  It looked like a Roman Catholic church converted into a Mexican strip club, owned by Lady Gaga.

My body had to decide quickly. Flight or fright.  I paid entrance and the beers were cheap(er) so I opted for choice nr. 2.  I stayed.  There were 10 comics.  They were bad.  I curse the gods of cheap booze for toying with me on this night.  There is a point, a sort of unspoken equilibrium, when the word “fuck” doesn’t necessarily imply you’re funny.  No matter how often you use it, or in what context.  It was like world war 3:  Aerial attack of F-bombs and an unsuccessful artillery movement of flaccid sex jokes.  I left early.  Never been so turned off in my life.

My wake-up call echoed through the room on Thursday morning, hours before the first chicken moved.  I had to fly to Sydney.  (Technically I had to catch a plane, for I’m not evolved enough to fly by myself yet.)  Sydney, the land of the Opera house and the Harbour bridge and all Asian ex-pats.  As well as a picturesque little waterside, known as Darling harbour.  A promenade filled with restaurants and bars and…well that’s about it.  Oh and if there’s any missing Asian people you know about, they are here too.

Before I could enjoy the sprawling views of boats and the city skyline, with a glass of expensive Merlot and a lamb shank, I had to struggle through several meetings in the day and when I finally reach the hotel, I. Just. Passed. Out.  Sadly this loss of consciousness was not alcohol induced, my body had a successful Coup d’état over my brain.  My body shut down and refused to do anything else.  Ever.  You may go ahead and feel sorry for me.

Darling Harbour.   Romantic isn't it?

Darling Harbour. Romantic isn’t it?

Had a breakfast meeting on Friday, and sighed for the weather sucked.  Lost was my dreams of dipping my feet in the water of the South Pacific Ocean as it was pouring down from the sky.  So I did what any sane person would do.  I worked.  In my room.  I now have a fundamental understanding why kids hate (1) Rainy days and (2) Being grounded.  I will use this form of punishment more often.  (Sorry, I meant form of discipline, not punishment.)  Finally enough hours flipped past, so I could have an excuse to get up and go for dinner.  I consulted my travel agent, Google, for a few places I haven’t discovered yet.  Then found something amazing.  A crown jewel in a treasure chest of golden coins.  I found a rock, actually more The Rocks, which is a buzzing suburb situated around Sydney Harbour with some great views of the Opera house if you can get high enough, i.e Skybar.

Yes it is.

Yes it is.

I ordered something in a Japanese restaurant, I thought it to be Sushi, but it ended up being pieces of raw fish on rice.  I shrivelled and started crying a little inside.  I downed the wine and swallowed my pride, and the stuff on my plate.  I think it was still moving.  But I lived.  Barely.

I ordered Sushi and got this.  Dead fish on rice.

I ordered Sushi and got this. Dead fish on rice.

After what I wouldn’t describe as dinner, I proceeded with what I like to call “The one-man’s bar crawl”.  I endured bravely to all the hotspots and returned to a few favourites.  At some point some of the bouncers were probably wondering what this lonely pervert was doing hovering around; so it was time to head home.  Maybe I was just too handsome and stood out in the crowd, and being a happily married man, it disqualified me from any social interaction.  Did I mention that the South Pacific Ocean was still pouring out of the sky throughout the entire evening.  So I was drenched and resembled a wet dog by the time a Pakistan cab driver decided to give me a ride.

And one more thing, Australia is immensely expensive.  Not mildly, or just a tad more, or a-no-worries-mate-it’s-Sydney-expensive.  NO! Full on f-bomb level expensive.  How anyone survives buying the bare necessities like red meat and beer, and still afford a night out is totally beyond me.  Maybe the citizens of Australia are all millionaires or maybe it’s because my own currency forces me to multiply everything I see in this country with TEN!

Then I flew home.  And now I’m back.  At work.  Not working.  Hope you missed me.

Stress, destroyer of worlds

stress-and-acid-reflux

And I’ll push and poke until you’re whole goddamn life falls to pieces…

I was the chairperson for a disciplinary hearing at work today.  For those uninformed coach potatoes out there, a disciplinary hearing is basically a corporate court where people are held accountable for stepping out of sync with the rest of the monotonous drones running amok.  It’s where accusers can face their insubordinate delinquents and a chairperson plays lady luck.  Or  judge, depending on how power-hungry said chairperson is.  And no, we don’t use whips, sticks and stones, but verbal and final written warnings and sometimes the golden gig: Dismissal.

The guy was negligent.  He caused a minor cadenza, which fortunately for everyone involved, were immediately contained.  He claimed personal problems for this slight oversight in his daily duties.  Blamed his lack of attention on a situation outside of the work environment, which he had difficulty in controlling.  When asked what, he said he’s wife is expecting their second child.

I almost adjourned the meeting, wanting to give the guy a hug.  We all know how hormonal our loved ones become whilst carrying unborn angels around.  It’s as if they are not just sucking nutrients, blood and vitamins through that tube, they call the umbilical cord, but also vanquishing joy, humour and personality from the woman carrying them.  Especially when you say stuff like: “Jeez, you’re getting huge!”. (Only did it once)

The reality of trying to control things is shared by everyone on the planet, but the fundamental understanding that it is actually impossible to do, is a secret shared only by the privileged few.  The masses still paying school fees whilst acquiring that life lesson, are enduring what modern medicine would call “stress.”

And stress destroys worlds.  It unmasks our faces leaving us bare and exposed.  It cracks the facades we are trying to uphold.  It forms little tweaks in the pedestal of composure that we like other people to believe, we live on.  Breaking the neon sign that’s flashing our fake motto of “Everything is under control”.

Sadly, stress wins eventually.  It would be so much easier to just throw your arms up and call for a buoy, but instead most of us prefer to drown slowly, because that’s what modern human beings are programmed to do.  Rather swim until you die.

Stress appears when it attacks your attention; as was the case with this specific employee.  Causing your mind to get stuck on a problem like a horse in quicksand, sinking deeper, for trying to hard.  Resulting in mindless acts of stupidity like cruising through an intersection with a red traffic light blinking violently, or neglecting to pick up the kids from school, finding them two hours later, annoyed and hungry.

Stress might appear and attack your health, causing heart palpitations and aneurisms.  Feeling despondent and depressed with barely enough energy to get out of bed in the morning.  Not to be confused with normal feelings of depression on Monday mornings and then not wanting to get out of bed.

Stress might appear and attack your emotional state.  Resulting in endless rivers of tears released by the smallest innocent triggers.  Like seeing a new baby or being called out for the beautiful person you are.  Senseless emotion, with no obvious reason whatsoever.

Stress might appear and make you drink, and drink and drink and… hic! Then rehab, then AA.  Which is those meetings in community halls where people starts their life story with the sentence: “My name is…

Stress will even attack your self-control.  Ensuring that you run around wildly flapping your arms, like a windmill on wheels, screaming and shouting at the imbeciles you have working with you.   No, it never happens to me.  I don’t lack any self-control… Sorry, just wait a minute, the phone’s ringing again…

“Shit Mike, I said I’ll phone you back later for goodness sake.  I need the information from finance.  Yes, I know, you shithead.  But which part of I. need. the. information. from. fucking. finance do you not understand?  I’m busy.  Yes, fuck you too…”

Sorry about that, it’s just when you have idiots roaming earth then.. Where was I?

Oh yes stress.  And self-control.  Which I don’t have a problem with…

***

“Oh Stress, you’re a heartless bitch and I hate you for destroying innocent lives everywhere!” said the man with the final written warning lying ominously on the passenger seat.

When customers becomes Kings.

I am in sales, chemical commodities, but sales nonetheless. I have a wide range of  customers, most of them foreign.  Yes there are some difficult ones too.

So the questions beckons: How do you employ the age-old sales slogan of “The customer is always right”, even when they are not?  Or how do you manage “The customer is King”, when they act like the  joker of the court.

The secret lies in the perception of the customer.  The well-known slogan actually has a few words preceding it, that very few people know about.  I am about to spill the beans, and probably earn the wrath of the marketing fraternity by doing so.  I think it is another life skill that my kids needs to learn, hence appearing on my blog.  The full version of the slogan is:

Make the customer believe that he is always right.  Make him believe that he is King.

You see this is the trick, even if he is not technically right, he must be sent away feeling that he was.  He must feel that you bowed in his presence and he is walking away with the best deal ever.  He must have bragging rights to the way that he expertly coerced you into a terrific deal.

When you have achieved that the customer will be back for more.  He will want to come and live in his Kingdom for another fifteen minutes, often.  Now that the secret is out, the question still remains: How?  How do you do it?  How do you make them feel special.

Most of the times it is easy as you would be dealing with intelligent people, with some kind of moderate control over their feelings.  They want something which you have and if the quality is good and the price is fair then the situation is set.

But in life there are always exceptions, and this is where you will find the pricks.  The ones who makes me ask the question.  Those crazed people who think the world belongs to them, who walks around actually believing they are superior to the average Joe on the street.  They walk around with two chips on each shoulder, the bullies of the commercial world.  Like the one I just had a conversation with. Dickhead.

The only way to handle them is to try your utmost not to call them out for what they are.  Things like, “Who died and made you King of Idiot land?” or “You have the personality of a rock and if you die of thirst in the desert, I will use the last liquid I have on me to wash my ass before I give it to you”  will not increase your sales effectiveness.

I just try my best not to swear at them and be like Peter Pan thinking happy thoughts.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I tell them to go to hell and take their money with them.  It has only happened twice, OK maybe three times, fine…four times.  Are you judging?

I am a pleasant person, most of the time.

Diary of a suitcase.

I travel often. Have done so for more than 6 years.  It is part of my job. Most of my friends envy this fact.  The wife not so much.

I am always pestered about what’s it like, or what did I see, are the women attractive?  I take a lot of pictures to try to convey the emotion, but as I travel on my own, most of the photo’s does not include me.  I don’t really seem to grab the attention of my friends and family for more than two hours at a time.  Nice hey?  I mean wouldn’t you want to see 130 photo’s of Papua New Guinea’s countryside?

So I started another page on my blog, (Hint: Topic of my post), to keep track of my experiences, random thoughts and photo’s.  I am off today for my first trip of 2o13, and thus decided there is no time like the present.

So if you’re interested in more ramblings from me about travelling, hop over to my blog and click on the page with the heading “Diary of a suitcase.” (My kids told me that is how you speak Internet…) I pondered on “Diary of a nutcase” for awhile, but decided that the chosen one has a better ring to it.  Besides those close to me has already had more than enough of that experience, and this one my kids may actually want to read someday.

Feel free if you have questions/comments/suggestions about the places I visit.  Maybe in future  I might even write something down from memory.

Well off to Saudi Arabia.  Bon voyage.