Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Intraweb

Every now and then (daily) I have...issues with my computer.

At home, my sweetheart has a powerful machine with a big, flat-screen monitor upon which she can check her email, go on Facebook, etc. with a minimum of trouble.

My baby girl has a Macbook with all the options.

I operate from an old Compaq Presario which is, to put it mildly, tempermental.  Or maybe just mental.  I can't tell the difference.

I never know when I come in to work whether my Mustang screensavers will be showing, or if I'll have the dreaded black screen with the Windows XP (that's right, I like living on the edge of technology) playing Pong with the sides of my borrowed monitor.  Seeing the black screen means that at some point overnight my computer rebooted itself.  For what reason, I don't know.

I am computer illiterate.  The thing kept shutting off every ten minutes or so about a month back, and I was told I needed a new power source for it.  No problem.  I drove to the closest source for a power source, plunked down my forty bucks (remember that amount-- a future post is dedicated to it), and took my new power source, had someone who knew what they were doing install it, and I was off and running again.  For about twenty minutes at a clip this time.

Currently I have a small fan behind the CPU keeping the guts of the computer cool so it won't shut off.  Lovin' life and livin' large.

Which brings me to the other thing.  I think my computer knows too much about me.

I have to "log in" to everything I want to see or do.  As I log in, the site asks, "Do you want me to remember this information?"  WHO ARE "YOU"?  After which it will welcome me back or in or whatever that site says about me being there.

Reminds me of what Lewis Grizzard, that great theologian, said about flying in to Atlanta.  The men's room was the only thing glad to see him.  The lights came on when he walked in, and after he did his business, the toilet cried as he was leaving.

My wife and children have Facebook accounts.  There are people on there Jennie hasn't seen in over thirty years, and others I don't care if I ever see again.  Oh, the joy and freedom of saying "no".

I grew up in a small town, where everybody knew everybody else.  And their children.  We didn't need Twitter or Facebook for folks to know what was going on.  We had parents.

A Barnesville police officer was married to my friend Steve's sister.  Anytime--and I mean anytime--some kind of meanness happened he'd head straight to Sims Street to find out where Steve and I were and what we'd been doing.  The first time I rode my bicycle to town alone Mama had folks all along Carleeta Street watching me, there and back.

Not too long ago, I tried to text my daughter A) to see if I could and 2) to tell her "I love you".  I couldn't, and I couldn't.  It came out like this:  "H knud wmv".  She understood.

And to think I used to wish I was important enough to have a pager.

I don't videoconference, have a Blackberry or PDA, and can barely operate my email.  Who needs MySpace?

For what it's worth, I really don't want everyone in the world knowing what I'm doing "right now", or any other time for that matter.  My life's been an open book to far too many people for far too long.  Time to close it.  And just say no.

So I won't follow you on Twitter, be your friend on Facebook, watch you on YouTube, or anything else.  I'm behind the times and intend to stay there for as long as I can.  Those who really matter have all the information they can stand.  If you need me you know where to find me.

I live at the end of the first driveway on the right when you turn left off Ben Higgins onto Still Road.  See you at the house.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Am Elvis Presley's Love Child

There's a woman from up North making some noise about being related to Elvis Presley.

First she said she was Elvis' child, then changed her story to say she was Vernon's (Elvis' dad).

How can she prove this?  It's been verified that her mother hung around Elvis and his gang back in the late 60's and early 70's.  Somewhere in the vicinity of the King.

Using this logic, since my Mama went to more than one Elvis concert during that same time, where he waved to her AND blew her a kiss, it stands to reason that I--wait for it--am the King's love child.

This would explain a lot.  Like why I love his music, can talk, sing, and shake like him, and have a propensity toward fried foods and shiny cars.  Not to mention my strong physical resemblance to Elvis, commented on by more than one person.  Of course they always say I look like 70's Elvis, but who's listening?  The facts speak for themselves.

Graceland, here I come.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

If I Could Be From Somewhere Else...

...I like saying I'm from Dahlonega, Georgia.  Mainly because folks who hear it over the phone can't spell it, and those who see it in print can't say it.  Oh, they try. 

"Mr. Berry, you're from?"


"And you spell that..."  After which they will mangle the spelling of my hometown in any number of ways.  None of them right.

Or, if they're reading it to me, they'll mispronounce it.  Terribly.

"That's Daa-lo-nee-gah?"


I grew up in Barnesville, just south of Griffin, which was close to Experiment and Gay.  Thank God I wasn't from Gay.

Georgia town names are all over the map.

There's Plum Nelly, "plum" out of Tennessee and "nelly" out of Georgia.

Some of my wife's people are from Willacoochie, on US 84 between Waycross and Jesup.  Her daddy's from Hahira, near Adel and Sparks.  (How do you know you're near Hell in Adel?  You can see Sparks from there.)

I live about twenty miles north of Cumming, and almost a state away from Climax, which is just east of Bainbridge.  Just think what would happen if Cumming and Climax were closer together.

Ball Ground is just down the road from us, just west of Frogtown.

We lived in Moultrie once.  There was a little community between there and Quitman named Berlin.  Easy to pronounce, right?  Wrong, with a capital "R".  I said it wrong the very first time.  The emphasis is on the last syllable, Ber-LIN, as sort of a protest against the Germans for WW II.

I think I'd like to say I'm from Flippen, though.  It's in Henry County, south of Atlanta (the town formerly known as Marthasville, Terminus, and Canebrake).

Can you imagine a greater place to be from than Flippen?  Oh, the questions.

Where do you live?  Flippen, Georgia.  (Read it out loud.)

Oh, you're one of them Flippen Berrys?  Yep.  Mama was a Flippen Free.

Where did you go to school?  Flippen High School.  Our team was the "Outs".  Mama worked for the Flippen Post Office.  Daddy was a Flippen mechanic.

Got pulled over by the Flippen Police.  Took me to the Flippen jail.  Had to pay a Flippen fine.

Dated a Flippen girl.  Got married in Flippen Church of God.

The list goes on.  Or just stops now, to end the agony.

Compared to the places I could be from, Dahlonega is pretty tame.

Could be worse.  Could be from Enigma, which is nowhere near Ideal.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I Miss Midway

I read my friend Mike's blog and he referred to this letter in the Christian Index.  It made me think about the things I miss when I go to church nowadays.

My wife and I attend The Father's House, a church in Dawsonville.  It's a non-denominational congregation housed in a former warehouse.  I love the pastor, the music, the spirit of the place.  It reminds me a little of the church I grew up in, Midway Baptist, halfway between Barnesville and Jackson, Georgia.

But this church ain't Midway.

I've never been in a church like Midway since I left there to attend college in 1976.  I'm not sure there's another church like it (the way I remember it) anywhere.

Time either romanticizes or demonizes your memories, depending on perspective.  I guess my memories of Midway take a slant toward the romantic, because my perspective tends to make me remember the good and discount the bad.

There was some bad--"Preacher Bill" Coleman pastored Midway three different times as I was growing up.  He left once on his own, after being "called" to a church in Byron.  The other two times he was voted out.

Susie Hickman sang a "special" (referred to now as a "solo") almost weekly.  I can't forget her, standing next to Annette Swatts, who played the piano when Susie sang.  I'm not sure anyone else could have played for Susie, who always preceded her singing by saying, "Y'all pray for me as I try to sing (insert name of song here)."  We prayed, as she tried.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

Melvin "Gomer" Peugh "led" the music.  He was called Gomer because he looked like Gomer Pyle, he of Andy Griffith and U.S.M.C. fame.  We had a "choir", which Gomer assembled each Sunday morning by saying, just before the service started, "Anybody who wants to sing in the choir today, come on up."  People filled the choir loft, and whatever "choir song" they sang that day came from The Red Songbook/Not The Baptist Hymnal.  My favorite was #14, "Jesus Is Coming Soon".  I can still see Mama in the ladies' section, along with Sara Ruffin, Bernice Knight, Paula Hickman, and two rows of other women.  Daddy was in the back, with Champ Ruffin, Walter Moore, and "Big John" Littlejohn, among others.  When Big John died they had to custom-build a casket for him and it took eight men to carry it.

If I could only hear that choir one more time.

I begged Daddy to let me go with him before the morning service to the "prayer room" in the back of the church, which was really behind the front of the church.  Baptists everywhere will understand where this is.  I guess I was about eight or nine when he finally let me go with him.

The men in that small room--Preacher Bill, Daddy, Champ, James Smith, and others--dropped to their knees and prayed for souls to be saved in the service that morning, for the sick, and for each other.  Preacher Bill slipped out as soon as he prayed, but the others would continue, sometimes even after the service started, then take their place in the choir or in the congregation when they were finished.

In the summertime the men would pray outside under the oak tree near the cemetary.  We didn't have central air conditioning--or heat for that matter--when I was small.  I could look out the open window and see those men praying, hearing their cries to God when there was a lull in the service.

If I could only hear them pray one more time.

We sang mostly from the Baptist Hymnal on Sunday morning, from #1 (Holy, Holy, Holy) through #188 (Amazing Grace) to #240 (Just As I Am) during the invitation, when Preacher Bill would call on you to Be Saved, Rededicate Your Life, or Just Come Pray If You Need To At This Altar Before The Lord.  I'm not sure most churches even do any of that any more.

If I could only walk down that aisle one more time.  And have Preacher Bill kneel with me next to that pulpit, put his arm around my shoulder, and pray with me.

We'd have Homecoming every year.  The men would start Saturday afternoon, cooking deer meat and pork and chicken over coals fired up between two rows of cinder blocks on grills made of chain-link fence and steel poles.  They'd stay out there all night, preparing the barbecue (a noun, NOT a verb) for the next day.  Whatever Gospel group we had hired that year was usually there on Saturday night, spending the night on their bus before they sang the next day, all day, after Dinner On The Grounds.  It was the only Sunday in the year besides Easter that there would be no Evening Service.  The women would make homemade cakes, pies, breads, and their signature vegetable dishes, all of which would be cleaned out within minutes after the blessing.

If I could only spend the night cooking with those men, one more time.

It was the church folks got married and buried in.  I watched my favorite Sunday School teacher (and first crush) Paula Hickman marry a sailor there.  I got Saved there in April when I was seven years old.  I fell on the edge of the altar after a Christmas play that same year and busted my head open, after which Dr. Henry sewed six stitches above my right eye as Daddy and Mama held my hands and women from the church talked about what a pretty job he was doing.  I missed Dr. Henry's son (and my best friend) Ben Henry's funeral there in November 1971 because I was still in the hospital recovering from the wreck that killed him and almost killed me.  I sat with my new wife Jennie, Mama, and my sister Susie as Preacher Bill wept through Daddy's funeral in 1979, then Champ Ruffin's (Mike's Daddy) two weeks later, the last service I attended there before Preacher Bill died.

We sang #188, Amazing Grace, along with the men and women I had watched as I grew up.

It was just like Sunday morning, only sad.  But we sang like we meant it because we did.

If only I could hear it one more time.

Amazing Grace.  How sweet the sound.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Cove

I just finished reading Murder In Coweta County for the umpteenth time when I was jolted by "a blast from my past".  The book describes the murder of a sharecropper by a man named John Wallace, patriarch of a section in Meriwether County, Georgia, commonly referred to as "the Kingdom".  The murder took place in 1948.  Back to that in a bit.

I was sixteen years old in 1973.  My first car was a fire-engine red Ford Falcon, and, just like the bird,  it would fly.

I was, in the words of that great theologian Travis Tritt, "Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof".

Or so I thought.

The pastor of our church, "Preacher Bill" Coleman, must have easily preached twenty revivals a year in our area of Georgia.  Two are really memorable.  One of those can wait until later.

In the fall of 1972 he preached at The Cove Baptist Church, between Woodbury and Chalybeate Springs.  To get there you had to turn off the Manchester Highway and meander back into thick woods that got thicker and darker as you went.  Several of us guys went more than one night to the services to "support" our pastor.  Actually we were I was trolling for girls.  And I found one.

She was a cheerleader at Woodbury High, whom Lamar County played in football and basketball.  To provide perspective on the Woodbury cheerleading squad, I believe their head cheerleader's name was Olga.  This was one of their cheers:

My name is Susie, yeah,
I'm a sexy Sagittarius, yeah,
From Woodbury High, 
Check it out, Check it out, Check it out.

Apparently with Susie, as with most cheerleader girls, cheering had nothing to do with the game and everything to do with herself.  But I digress.

I don't even remember The Cove girl's name, which is ironic since seeing her--for only one night--almost got me killed.

I picked her up at her house and we drove around Manchester and Woodbury, up past Meadows Motors toward Newnan, and back.  Just doing nothing and trying not to get caught.

I left her house when I dropped her off at 11:00pm (her dad's orders) and looked forward to the time when I'd see her again.

I never went back.

Driving out that same dark road I entered on, darker now since it was almost midnight, a truck suddenly pulled out in front of me.  Seconds later, another pulled out behind me, his headlights bright in my rearview mirror.  The truck in front slowed down to a dead stop, and the one behind me pulled as close as he could get to my bumper without touching it.

I was trapped.

Some big, burly man came up to my window, but not where I could see his face.  And uttered the words any sixteen-year-old dreaded to hear.

"Whatchoo doin' heah, boy?"

As I wet my pants, I tried to explain my what I was doing there.  I told him I was headed home, where my family was expecting me.  Probably waiting up and praying for my safe return even as we spoke.  He only said one more thing.

"Welllll, you jest drahve own outta heah, and don't stop."

No.  Problem.

To say I busted my ass to get back to where I knew someone is an understatement.  I flew low and my Falcon's wings were worn out by the time I pulled into my driveway.

Only later, reading the book, would I realize I had spent an evening in John Wallace's kingdom, known for moonshine and murder.  And even though he had been executed in 1950 for the killing of Wilson Turner, his family still ran that little crescent-shaped area of the county.  I imagine I was talking to a Wallace or a Strickland that night on the side of the road.

I'll never know what was going on back in those woods that night.  Nor do I want to, even today.  I'd rather remain thankful that I'm alive and able to write these words.  I only hope no one kin to John Wallace reads them.

I did end up marrying a Meriwether County girl--after she moved to Savannah, then L.A. (Lower Alabama), and finally Vero Beach, Florida.  I met her at Mercer and we've been together, for better AND worse, for thirty-one years.

I would die for her.  And almost did.  Her family has tried to kill me at least three different times (that I know of).  But she's worth it.

But those stories are for another day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

If King James Had Only Known.

So I read where this church in North Carolina decided to have an old-fashioned book-burning, taking all kinds of Satan-inspired works to the bonfire.

Including all Bibles that are not the King James Version.

That bunch would include the NIV, the NASB, the Living Bible, etc.

I grew up on the KJV.  Heard it every Sunday from Preacher Bill in the pulpit of Midway Baptist Church.

The first "other" Bible given to me was by my Mama, a green hardback edition of the Living Bible.  I loved it, and still have it today, decades later.

When I attended Mercer University, the Bible of choice in the Christianity Department was the Revised Standard Version, commonly referred to as the Reverse Vision Version.

Mama and Daddy gave me a Thompson Chain-Reference Bible for my birthday while I was in college.  It was a KJV.  Still have that one, too, with my name embossed on the front in what once was gold.

Bob Felts introduced me to the New American Standard Bible, "the most literal of all translations", according to him.  I've been using it pretty much ever since, although I didn't become a Feltsian like my wife was for a while early in our relationship.

I'm pretty sure the Apostle Paul used the NASB.  While he was in the Phillipines.

But I digress.  The pastor of the church, Amazing Grace Baptist Church (I am not making this up), believes all versions besides the KJV are demonic.

He puts the "mental" in "fundamentalist".

Now, he's entitled to do whatever he wants with whatever books he chooses.  Him and the fourteen members of his new church.

I can only imagine being a visitor one Sunday morning.  Would they check my Bible at the door for inerrancy, then try to take it away from me for the next round of fireside reading?

Not so fast, hoss. You can have my NASB.

When you pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gold Rush

This weekend over 200,000 people will descend upon the little town of Dahlonega for the annual Gold Rush Days.  Out of that number only a few will be from Dahlonega.

We have been taken over by furriners.

Growing up, there were two types of people in the community:  the been-heres and the come-heres.  When the come-heres outnumber the been-heres there's bound to be trouble.

The come-heres have outnumbered the rest of us for a while now.

When I was young, Gold Rush was a festival to honor the town's heritage:  Site of the First Major U.S. Gold Rush, as the sign at the edge of town reads.  My great-aunt Ethel Adams was once Gold Rush Queen, when she was over ninety years old.

If it hadn't been for Gold Rush back then, the only way anyone would know about Dahlonega gold would come from history books.   Or locals.

I come from a long line of gold miners and moonshiners.  My Grandaddy mined gold when my Mama was young.  She tells of how, when the family needed money in an emergency, Grandaddy would get his pan and head out south of town toward the old Barlow mine, where he would work the water and dirt until he had the gold he needed.

The Hillbilly Corn Maze is located there now.  Right behind the Full-Time Yard Sale site.  The Barlow Mine is at best, hidden, but at worst, invisible.

I live in the Auraria community in Lumpkin County.  Not too far from where Grandaddy mined gold, and the authentic Site of the First Major U.S. Gold Rush.  Regardless of what signs say.

You can throw a rock from my back porch and hit the ground where my Cherokee ancestors walked on the Georgia part of the Trail of Tears.  There's an historical marker up the road that tells about Union General Winifield Scott having a Station there to help them get the hell out of the mountains.  The site is on Auraria Road, known in those days as Gold Digger's Road, part of a system that winds all the way up into North Carolina.

I pass by the Auraria Church of the Almighty God every morning on the way to work.  It's just down the hill from the Auraria Cemetary, final resting place for everyone from gold miners to slaves.

Across the road is the Auraria Community Center, located on the site of the entrance to many of the mines operated back in the 1830's when Auraria, not Licklog (Dahlonega), was THE town.  Only the fight for locating the courthouse prevented Auraria from becoming the county seat.

It was too mean a town for that distinction, anyway.

When the gold started running out, most of the miners, thinking their fortune was still in the ground elsewhere, decided to pack up and head West, to Colorado, where they had heard gold was plentiful.  Their women had a meeting at the Antioch Baptist Church (also on Auraria Road) to decide what they could do to make their men stay put.

While they were meeting, their men packed all their respective belongings in their respective wagons.  Then they burned all the houses down while the women were at church.

I go down the road those houses were on every day.  It's called Burnt Stand Road.

The real Gold Rush story isn't in Dahlonega, where the come-heres, along with their Chinese-made "local" arts and crafts, will circle the Square this weekend, peddling their goods to the thousands of tourists who will believe for a time (if it even crosses their mind) that they are walking where history was made.  Gone from that Square are Kenimer's Grocery, Fred Jones Chevrolet, Pete Sisk's Rexall, Dahlonega Ford.  In their place has come every kind of Yankee tourist trap you can imagine.

I'm not bitter.  Dahlonega is a nice place.  I just wouldn't want to live there.

Auraria Gold Days is also this weekend, where the place called Nuckollsvile, or "Knuckles-ville", once stood, a rough-and-tumble community of outcasts and fortune-seekers who followed a dream before moving to Colorado, where they established a new town and named it Auraria, for the place they first found gold.

By the way, you won't find Auraria, Colorado, on the map today either.  They changed the name of the town, honoring a come-here land baron who owned the land on the other side of the creek from where the miners worked.
Oh, the name of the town? 


Monday, October 5, 2009

The "Procedure"

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December of last year, just in time for Christmas.  I had surgery in March of this year, just in time for Easter.  I'm having a cystoscopy day after tomorrow.

Just in time for Halloween.

I get to drive to Birmingham, Alabama, home of the University of Alabama Hospital and my doctor, Erik Busby.  He is my new doctor since my former doctor told me there was nothing wrong with me.  It didn't seem to matter that I couldn't pee, have sex, or move without my midsection feeling like it's separating from the rest of my body.  No doctor in Georgia will see me since they all suspect I'll be suing the former doctor as soon as I find out what IS wrong with me.

If it weren't for my family doctor, Al Parker, I'd probably be dead or dying by now.  He did the test that first showed cancer back in December, then sent me to the urologist for surgery.  He's also the one who found a doctor who'd see me after the surgery to find out what happened during surgery that has left me, well, uncomfortable.  I love Dr. Parker.

My understanding of what a cystoscopy involves goes something like this:

A)  I get to the hospital at 5:30am--AM--Wednesday morning, after which the hospital staff, all of whom are from Alabama, "The Moron State", prepare me for "the procedure".  This involves cleaning and shaving parts of me which I clean but will never, NEVER shave, to allow the doctor unobstructed access for "the procedure".

2)  At around 7:15am, I will be put under General Anesthesia, totally unrelated to Corporal Punishment or Sergeant At-Arms.  This, I guarantee, will be the best part of "the procedure".

D)  While I am "asleep", Dr.  Busby will insert a section of 3 1/4" radiator hose roughly the length of I-75 between Atlanta and Macon into the tip of my You Know What with a camera attached to the end, presumably to record the road trip.  Once the pipe enters my bladder, the good doctor will film a feature-length motion picture, premiere date TBA.

The cystoscopy will determine if I have a tear, rip, wound, etc. on the interior wall of my bladder.  This information is then used to diagnose if any further surgery or treatment is required.  When I wake up my sweetheart will wheel me to the truck and drive me home.

I was wrong.  The anesthesia won't be the best part of the day.  Going home will.

Asking For Trouble, But...

..sometimes I can't stop myself.  For those who can't hear well, the lyrics are below.

The Man Song

I don't take not crap from anybody!  ...else but you.
I wear the pants around here!  ...when I'm finished with your laundry.
'Cause I'm a guy you don't want to fight!  ...when I say "jump" you say "yeah..right".
I'm the man of this house!  ...until you get home.

What I say goes around here!  ...right out the window.
And I don't want to hear a lot of whining! I'll shut up.
The sooner you learn who's boss around here...the sooner you can give me my orders, dear.
'Cause I'm the head honcho around here!  ...but it's all in my head.

And I can have sex anytime!  ...that you want.
'Cause I'm a man who has needs!  ...but they're not that important.
And don't expect any flowers from me!  ...because if I'm not mistaken, you prefer jewelry.
I'm the king of my castle!  ...when you're not around.

And I'll drink and watch sports whenever I want! get into trouble.
And I'll come home when I'm good and ready! sleep on the couch.
Because a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!  ...and I'm gonna do what you tell me to.
Because I'm top dog around here!  ...but I've been neutered!

See y'all!  ...when I get out of the hospital.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It Makes You Wonder

Ah, the inequities of life.

I sell cars.  Truth is, here lately, I mostly look at them.  But that wasn't always the case.

In 1998 I began working for a brand new dealership in Central Florida, owned by the Kelly Management Group, but more importantly overseen by Mr. Robert (Bob) Kelly.

I first met Mr. Kelly in January 1999 when he visited our store while on his winter season in sunny Florida.  The Kellys lived in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, not far from Pittsburgh.  It was cold there in the winter.  It was warm in Florida.

Mr. Kelly owned seventeen dealerships at that time, and Palm Bay Ford was the newest.  It was there he decided to change the way cars and trucks were sold.  We had a plan, developed for Saturn by Chris Saracino, whom Mr. Kelly hired away.

It was the Palm Bay Ford Sales Plan.  A simple title.  A new way of doing business.

Without going into all the details here, let's just say it worked, and worked well.  I started as a sales consultant, worked my way to Sales Manager, then Finance Manager.  I trained new hires in the Sales Plan.  I saw that there were only two types of people who own dealerships:  those who love cars and love business,  and those who don't know a thing about cars and love business.  Mr. Kelly was the first type.  He taught me by example that it was important to know everyone who worked in the store, from the detail guys to the janitor.  I did.  He showed me it was important to call everyone by their name.  I did.  He made sure that he was always encouraging people to do better, not by berating them but by complimenting the good and correcting the bad.  I miss him.

We sold 78 vehicles our first month.  When I left in 2001, we were selling 300 monthly.

I'm in a store now that struggles to sell 60 vehicles a month.  A good month.

You know how in sports when a team doesn't do well they fire the manager?  It's the opposite in the car business.  Here management blames the sales consultants for the lack of production.

We had daily sales meetings in Florida, training people in product knowledge and salesmanship.  Here we have one meeting a week so we can be told how sorry we are in a back-handed way.

For instance:

Manager:  "Now we all know times are tough right now and we're doing the best we can.  I'm not blaming anyone, but..."  

Translation:  "I'm going to take the next 30-45 minutes and tell y'all why it's your fault the dealership's not selling vehicles.  And we'll do the same thing next week, next month, next year."

Manager:  "I know y'all think we have an inventory problem, but all the dealerships around here are in the same boat.  They don't have any inventory either, but they're selling more than we are."

Translation:  "Yes, we may be sitting on vehicles we've had for six months or more but I'm not buying any more until y'all sell these.  I don't care that nobody's even opened the door on one.  I bought/traded for them so I know we don't have too much in them.  Not after nine months."

In Palm Bay our Used Car Manager, Bill German, wouldn't allow a vehicle to stay on the lot after 45 days.  If we didn't sell it, he took it to the auction.  Did he take a loss?  Sometimes, but not often.  He knew how to buy and sell.  And if we were slow, at least we looked busy because the inventory was constantly changing.

Customers are no better.  Here's how that goes most of the time, if you can get far enough along that they don't believe you're a crook:

Customer:  "I ain't payin' a penny over invoice for that new Exploder.  I know y'all ain't losing a dime selling it fer invoice.  They's money hidden in thar somewhar."

No, we're not losing a penny.  We're losing the interest we paid on the floor plan, the money invested in personnel to sit with you and listen to your crap, anything we spent on advertising, etc.  It's a lot more than a penny, you idiot. 

Our dealership has what's referred to as a "sales tower".  It sits at one end of the store while the salesmen are located across the showroom at the other end.  It's called a tower for a reason.  It's made of ivory and all who dwell there pontificate about important matters such as the latest video on YouTube, who'll win the game this week, or other things that have nothing--NOTHING--to do with selling a car.  If any salesmen are caught talking about the same thing we're not doing our job.

Do you know how salesmen get paid? If you sell a car, you get paid on the "commisionable gross", that amount between what the vehicle costs and what you sell it for.  Remember the idiot customers?  They don't care if I get paid or not.  They just don't want to get screwed.  It doesn't matter if I do.

If you work a pay period and don't sell anything, you get paid minimum wage, less taxes, insurance, etc.  But in the car business, that pay is also referred to as a "draw", pay given to you against commissions you'll earn.  If you get paid a draw and don't sell anything, when you finally do sell something, guess what?  You have to pay that money, the "draw", back to the store.  If you don't sell something for a while, you're what we call "in the bucket".  It is hard to get "out of the bucket".

Ah, the inequities.

Every dealership has a "golden boy"--one who sells the most, makes the most money.  We have one.  He can't close a door, much less a deal.  He gets all the leads from every advertising source we use, his name's on our website as THE contact person.

I usually sell as many as he does, as do a couple of others.  Yet he's held up as the example of how it should be done.

I'll keep doing what I do, thank you very much, lest I should imitate him and become like him.

Daddy used to say "You may screw me, but you better kiss me first."

I'm not even getting a hug.

Now I don't want to be King of the Forest, so if this sounds like bitching and moaning, believe me, it's not.  It's more like Rage Against The Machine.

I think it was Zig Ziglar who said, "You manage things and motivate people."  I must be taking crazy pills, because neither one's being done here.

Our last meeting?  Yesterday?  We were told that you can't do the same thing you've been doing and expect different results.

Sure we can.  Been doing it for months.  But you're right about one thing.  We've been getting the same results.

Is it the "players" or "the coach"?  Makes you wonder.