He also sells used Chevies
I’d been a contributor on a writing platform about a year and a half, but never got invited to sit at the Cool Kids Table, or, in the parlance, curated. That’s fancy writer talk, meaning your piece gets headlined on the platform’s main page. Not too surprising I didn't, though. The outfit caters mostly to the Woke crowd, of which I’m decidedly not a part. My stuff just never seemed to please Lord Al Gorithm.
They paid you based on how much readership you got. In a failed attempt to improve, I’d read pieces posted there on how to get into the K Range of views/reads/comments; how to touch that holy grail of social media called “Going Viral.” One such offered these salient points:
Tell personal stories
Write about your failures
Piss people off.
Why, hell, I could do that. In fact, I have done it many times in my life, especially the failures and pissing people off parts. In most job interviews I’ve had over the years, when these common questions came around, I answered them thus:
Jake from HR: What do you consider your greatest weaknesses?
Me: My failures and pissing people off.
Jake: What do you consider your greatest assets?
Me: My failures and pissing people off.
Jake: I don't think those are assets.
Me: I don't give a sh** what you think.
So, what the frog. I figured I’d put it to the test. As I recall, the aforementioned writing authority had several K reads and scores of comments for that piece. She made a few bucks… or was it he? Perhaps neither. You know, it’s trendy nowadays to pick pronouns that identify the picker as trendy, and I crave being trendy. So for the author I’m failing to credit, I’ll go with Thems. I'm assigning Thems a pronoun because I can’t remember Thems name.
Let’s start with a personal story. I’ll save pissing you off until the last. That way, maybe you’ll keep reading. Everybody loves to get pissed off. The advent of social media has made it a national pastime.
Once upon a time, my government sent me to a Third World Country to live for roughly 14 months and 9 days. In the English-speaking world, we called it the Republic of South Korea. The locals called it 한국 which is pronounced 김치. But that was 50 years ago, and I think we have since promoted South Korea to a First World Country, seeing as how one of its golfers won The Masters.
South Korea was right next door to a brother nation known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea. Saying it’s a brother nation may be generous. More like a brother-in-law nation. One who’s always criticizing you while eating your food and never returning your tools.
My employer and landlord parked me in a Quonset hut at a place called Camp Hovey. Camp Hovey lay a scant five miles from a curious landmark known as the De-Militarized Zone, or DMZ, to which they sent me to guard.
Antique photo of Author near Korean DMZ — 1967
For you Millennials and Gen-Z’ers, the DMZ was and is a largely de-foliated 2.5 mile wide buffer zone on either side of the border (38th Parallel) that runs across the Korean peninsula from (Yellow) Sea to shining Sea (of Japan), which separates the brothers-in-law.
De-militarized is a misnomer, as the area bristles with artillery, troops, and a dense peppering of land mines. You try to cross too deep into the Korean DMZ, and you’ll find your ass de-militarized into a fine red mist.
I got to tour the DMZ a time or two. I spent two winters there. Didn’t get my ass de-militarized, but did freeze it off. Since those days, I’ve been eternally grateful I wasn’t born a brass monkey.
Hiking the Korean DMZ is not an activity or place I would recommend. Would only give it one dot on Tripadvisor. Unuseful Trivia: the North Korean despot during my tour was the granddaddy of the fat little despot with the bad haircut who’s despoting the country now.
Where the hell to start, which one to pick. My first marriage and subsequent divorce? Nah, that was more of a victory. Getting laid off 3 times in 8 years? Maybe. The first company (a major airline I won’t name, but it’s an American airline), where I semi-toiled for a decade, sent out a pre-axe-falling memo announcing the company needed to “right size.” Some HQ Wharton Business School grad (who wouldn't get laid off) thought this sounded cooler than “down size” which was what all the other big corporations were using at the time.
Two days later:
“Here’s a box to pack your pictures and coffee mug and aloe plant. Hand over your access card and company ID, please. Security Officer Pugnose here will escort you out of the building. Have a nice day.”
Apparently, I was the wrong size. Had to be one of the most ignominious experiences in my life. But by the third layoff, I was a pro. Still, all left me a little dazed and confused. Sorta like Joe Biden.
My daddy would’ve said getting fired is a character builder.
With all due respect, Pop, screw that.
Pissing People Off
Now comes the fun part. Who to piss off first?
I guess I could start with social media, seeing as how thems is the devil spawn of anger and hate. You take Jack Dorsey and/or Mark Zuckerburg, speaking of despots. One came from Harvard, one from Satan. Neither of these guys finished college, but both hold Honorary Doctorates of Oligarchy — an Oli.D.
I don’t want to piss thems off, nor thems Zeus-like godfather, Jeff Bezos. That would only get my butt, at the very least, canceled smack-dab back to the middle of the Korean DMZ. So, for the record, I think youse guys are swell, along with all the others in your un-holy alliance. Keep up the good work.
Speaking of lying, I think I can piss off several tens of people by saying I think the talking heads at CNN and MSNBC make George Orwell look like Dr. Seuss. Joseph Goebbels would be proud if he wasn’t so busy trying to put out his fiery pants down in hell. Hate and divisiveness have never blared louder than from these kazoos.
And Jen Psaki, for Pete’s sake. She peaked when she became 2nd runner-up for the 2000 Sweetheart of Chi Omicron at the University of Karen. But credit where credit is due. She does an excellent job of propping up the most befuddled president since Herbert Delano Carter. I’m pretty sure she writes those note cards Sleepy Joe pulls out at every questioning. Too bad she’s not there to read them for him.
I could go on and on. There’s so much ammunition available in the socio-political landscape. A target rich environment, as the NSA and FBI say about guys like me. But I don’t want to piss everybody off in one shot. Like Sarah Conner, I need to live to fight another day. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger said in the same movie:
“Ah’ll be bach.”
Thanks for reading this far.
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© 2022 by Phil Truman. All rights reserved