Monday, June 14, 2004

One Week Later

I haven't posted for about a week partly because I was in San Diego on business and partly because I was too busy with family things when I came back. It's just been a busy week.

In San Diego, they are without a branch manager. The last one was "terminated". Largely because she couldn't get with the program from the corporate side. She spent a little too much time telling "the boss" what she thought we should be doing and not doing what he asked. I would say that has been going on for about a year. Personally, I like her as a friend. She had many interesting, if not "good" ideas. The problem sometimes with "good ideas" in business is that first you must do some of the basic things like controlling your costs, keeping turnover down, improving your sales, etc. Good ideas like adding services that don't have any revenue benefit, don't go over well when you haven't been making a profit in 6 years.

In short, we have been fighting for our very existence. In today's business world, the "fat" gets cut very quickly. She was often confused (and me too, sometimes) why I didn't support her ideas more even though I saw some of the benefits. But, I had been converted from the "good ideas" gang to the "let's do what's necessary to keep our jobs" gang in the first 3 months of 2003. I personally was not looking forward to somebody viewing us as "fat" to be trimmed. I don't want to try to look for another job or stand in the unemployment lines. I like my job and unemployment would barely make my mortgage payment. Since she didn't see that, kept butting heads and had not improved the status of the SCB (sales, costs and bad debt), she was gone.

I can tell you I spent hours talking to her about it. I can tell you that I risked my job trying to save her job. In the end, it didn't matter because she was just too damned stubborn. Every time I thought I had her turned in the right direction, 2 days later I would be hearing the same stuff from her. Finally, I had to stop because I felt myself teetering on the edge of "who's side are you on anyway?" And since I believed in the tenets we were trying to re-instill in our division, I picked the "I am going to keep my job, you do what you think is best" side. Two weeks later she was gone.

I can't say it was bad. It was a really strange thing to go back to the facility and see all of her staff, who had been previously hostile and down right dragging their feet about changing, suddenly be all smiles and couldn't do what you wanted fast enough. Not that they all changed. Some of the managers are still being pains, but smaller pains at least. This is the group I talked about in a previous post when I mentioned I was constantly having to "referee" between them and the billing center. I don't think these folks have the idea that the billing center needs to be able to bring in cash so we can pay their pay checks. I think they think the money grows on magic trees behind our corporate office.

So, the facility was without a manager and I was standing in for a week. We have been rotating responsibility while we looked for a new branch manager. Finally got one and she starts this week. I am excited because, when I interviewed her, she actually knew what the hell she was talking about and could understand that SCB came before "good ideas". Let us hope this is a step in the right direction for the facility. As it is, I spent the whole week trying to get many of their issues back on track and spent the evenings trying to do my normal analyzing and pushing the agenda. I was a little too tired to write in the blog.

Sometimes I feel a little hostile towards these folks myself. I posted before that I participated in determining 15 people to be laid off so we could save the division and remaining 135 people. I would do it again (particularly as I am one of the 135). But, it isn't really "fun". My family has a side joke about me being the "axe" woman. Honestly, I prefer to be the "hiring" woman with lot's of sales, really low cost of goods and a happy staff that we grew with our revenue. As it is, I would just like to maintain status quo on the staffing and get our sales out of the dump.

We actually have a work force of 75% women (can you believe that?). I work in healthcare so it shouldn't be too surprising. Many of the women are single parents or are married and need the second income. Most of the guys are married and need their income just as badly to support growing families. Most of our staff are long time employees. Laying them off is like cutting off a member of your family. The first group of people we laid off was very hard for me. I didn't cry or anything quite so faint hearted, but I had a few sleepless nights about it. After that, I had pretty much reconciled myself to the necessity. I basically had to steal myself against those feelings and treat it like the business that it was. It's not really easy, but less troubling when you think about it in context of who you are saving and not who you had to cut adrift.

And since I am a selfish yuppie, I didn't mind saving myself either. I hope that's not too hard for some to read, but this is the place to write my true feelings on the subject.

Ok...enough about work. Last week was also a week of reflection for me. The week was full of news coverage and special programs about the late President Reagan. I missed most of the funeral processions because I had to work. My Mom recorded them for me and I spent a good part of Saturday watching everything from the ceremony at the Rotunda all the way to the burial at his library in Simi Valley. It was very moving for me. First, the processions were incredible. I don't know if I will ever see another "state funeral" like this in my life time. The honor guards were very precise, well turned out and highly respectful. One picture that comes to mind is the close up of a Marine crying. When a Marine cries, you know it is a sad day indeed. The other pictures were mostly of Nancy Reagan.

The picture where she puts her head down on the coffin at the Rotunda and was speaking to Mr. Reagan was sad. Even more so, at the last ceremony in Simi Valley, when she was sitting in the lone chair by the coffin while the soldiers performed the flag ceremony. I thought that seemed very representative of their last years together. I wonder how many times she sat by his bed alone and just looked at him? Last but not least (and, ok, I was crying) she walked up to the coffin and touched it for the last time. It was then that she started crying in earnest. I don't know about privately, but publicly, while seeming a little frail (she is 82) she seemed stoic. When she finally broke down, it tore me up. Not because this was "Reagan" or anything political, but simply because it was a woman who really loved her husband, cared for him during his darkest hours and would now be lost without him. That is just sad, whoever the deceased is.

Other stirring moments come to mind as well as a few perversely funny ones. For instance, I can now hum the entire march "Hail to the Chief" because they played it so many times, every time his coffin passed in and out of buildings. What was a little funny about this is it kept bringing to mind a movie I had seen with James Garner and Jack Lemmon titled "My Fellow Americans". James Garner's character was telling Jack Lemmon that he made up his own words to the song...

"Hail to the Chief, I'm the Chief and you must hail me..."

You have to know the movie and the song to understand how funny I thought that was. Particularly as Mr. Reagan had a very fine sense of humor and I imagined him standing off to the side laughing his ass off every time the honor guard had to stop at the top of the stairs with his 800 pound casket and wait for the song to end before they could go on.

OK...maybe I have a sick sense of humor, but it's funny dammit!

The stirring parts were mostly the pageantry of seeing the different military units represented in full dress. The "Home Guard" Marines who were very precise in their marching. The bands playing "Battle Hymn of the Republic", "God Bless America", etc. The thousands and thousands of people who lined the streets in both California and Washington to say good bye (or good riddance if you were a Dem).

A really stirring moment was during the "Cathedral" ceremony where friends and national leaders gave eulogies, the Irish Tenor sang, and the Marine band played several songs. The best was when they were singing the "Battle Hymn of the Republic". In the audience were people like Mikhail Gorbechav, Iyad Alawi (Iraq), King Abdullah II (Jordan), etc. The fourth (?) verse of the battle hymn says:

In the beauty of the ages
Christ was born across the sea
With a glory in his bosom
that transfigures you and me.

As he died to make men holy
(Here the whole Marine Choir kicks it into LOUD)
Let us die to make men free!

His truth is marching on...(Chorus)

Anyway, maybe I was the only one that saw the significance of that song, sang like that at that precise moment, but it did tickle me a little. Particularly, the democrats who were falling asleep in their chairs (names not mentioned here) looked like they were jolted awake pretty quick!

Last funny, interesting part of the Cathedral ceremony. I wonder if anybody noticed that Margaret Thatcher and ex Arch-enemy Mikhail Gorbechav were setting together? How is that for ironic? And then, she had her speech played (she was very ill) and mentioned the "evil empire" at least 3 times in regards to Mr. Reagan's legacy of shutting down the Coms. Dude looked like he had ate a dozen lemons when they panned back to him. was funny.

Last comment on the subject. As a previously devout Democrat, even during my time as a Democrat, I recognized that this guy had done some extraordinary things with our economy. Further, I will never forget the speech at the Berlin Wall:

Mr. Gorbechav, open these gates!
Mr. Gorbechav, tear down this wall!

Then the Picture. The first picture of a man with a sledge hammer, hammering the wall with all his might. And no one shot him or came to stop him. And then he was joined by hundreds if not thousands of people, ripping at the wall. Tearing it down. The first slab falling. The complete jubilation.

When the lone man with a sledge hammer walked up to the statue of Saddam Hussein and tried to break it down, I was reminded very strongly of the scene at the wall/

I could go on and talk about the liberation of Poland, Lithuania or any number of other countries, but it would be redundant. The man simply orchestrated one of the greatest feats in history. All without firing a shot. Not only did he liberate these countries, but he liberated the American people from the depression brought on by failed policies, failed wars and failed presidencies.

Anybody who tries to denigrate Mr. Reagan's contribution to the world and to America is just a slug in my opinion. So, he wasn't perfect. I have said it before and I'll say it again, some folks wouldn't be happy if Jesus himself was the president. These same people probably would have been complaining that the fish and the bread that Jesus multiplied and fed thousands with at the "Sermon on the Mount", wasn't cooked right or had too much salt! (Please excuse the blasphemy).

I guess I was a little irritated that some people had to come out of their little holes and try to tear down a dead man. Whatever anybody thought about him, he was one of our presidents and he was DEAD! What kind of no class, disrespectful bunch of jackasses are these people? The man had alzheimers for the last 10 years. He was sick and old. 93. That is like insulting your grandfather or something. more rants. I'm just scared that our future is full of these kind of folks. And, based on the polls, they are somehow convincing people that this is a good thing. Let's get Kerry in there. If nothing else, he can tell us what kind of no good bastards we are. Maybe he can convince enough people of that fact, they won't pay attention to what he's doing while he rapes the economy and throws our foreign policy back into the "detente" era. He'll be president, chanting Rodney King phrases to our adversaries, "can't we all just get along?".

My answer is not only no, but HELL NO!

I want my enemies clear and in front of me. No ambiguity. I don't want to be guessing if this person is helping or hindering me. I want them identified and then a target on their ass. Thank you very much. I WANT wanted posters that say "Wanted: Dead or Alive". barbarian heart is speaking again.


Anonymous said...

Kat-I have read your comments on many blog sites and finally clicked on your home page to learn a little more about you. You write so sensibly and I find myself nodding my head in agreement with most of your commentary. I have now added your blog to my favorites list. Keep up the good work. I too am very concerned with the lack of concern by most Americans regarding the terrosrist threat. The leaders seem to spend all their energy on hating the administration and overlooking the fact that we are in a global war.
Pat in NC

Kat said...

Pat...Thanks for the comments. I think most of the time I am just trying to sort through the rhetoric and the BS (is that redundent?) and get down to the nitty gritty of the issues.

I have to say, it took me a little while to sort through all the blah, blah, blah to get to the details. I think the final clarification came to me when I read OBLs letters, handboodks and other documentation directly from the terrorist/Islamists.

All this garbage about "why they hate us" is just that:garbage The flowery language and claims of brotherhood with their muslim brothers is just a cover for their own nefarious bid for power.

It is a little disheartening when speaking to friends and family who are equally as blind to the issues. They look at me as if I have lost MY mind.

I was trying to point a friend of mine to the Iraqi blogs to get a different perspective on the war (I even pointed her to some of the "negative" ones). She said, "I don't need to see these sites, I learned all I need to know about the war when I was in Spain last year".

As you can tell, by friend is sincerely liberal. Regardless, I always thought she was very intelligent. I was surprised that she felt she had "all the information that she needed" to make her decision on the situation. I was disappointed that she didn't even look, if nothing else, to gain additional ammo in her war on the conservatives. :)

Well it's apparent that the battle of extremes is not just a problem of Islam! :)