The end of an era

Last week was my daughter’s second birthday. Unlike the year prior I had to wait a few days before visiting the NICU where she had stayed for 91 days to drop off some doughnuts and say hello. I went to the local Sweetwater’s Doughnut mill and picked up two dozen of the city’s best treats. Zoey had a clean bill of health the day before on her two-year checkup. For being born four months early she was doing great.
We drove downtown and found a spot before going inside. Everything looked the same as it had two years ago. The elevator took us to the fourth floor and I realized this was the first time Zoey would be walking onto the floor by herself. We run into her old nurses from time to time and they tell us about her picture taped to the desk at the end of the hall where she stayed. The doctors still talk about how well she did and how fast she had recovered. At the desk was a woman I didn’t recognize. I told her Zoey was there to visit and that it was her birthday. I was given an odd look as I set the doughnuts down on the counter.
The greeter wanted names of nurses, the hall that we stayed in. I gave her a list and mentioned that Rob had been given the Daisy award for taking care of her. Normally the greeter would call the charge nurse and say Zoey was there to visit, word would spread and people would come out to say hi. That didn’t happen.
I was told that none of the nurses were working, I didn’t know who was in charge. Nobody came out to grab the doughnuts for the breakroom. In the waiting room I played with Zoey and watched the clock tick by. The greeters changed shifts and when the new girl asked about the doughnuts a vague answer was given and the new girl set them on a table behind the desk and forgot about them. Staff came and went, people I didn’t know waved hi to Zoey but nobody talked to me again.
Zoey is no longer a preemie. The one pound six-ounce baby had grown up and we were no longer patients. She had been replaced by the newcomers, the ones who were in the NICU now. After thirty minutes I figured it was time to move on in more ways than one. I’m sure that many of the staff had moved on and transferred to other departments. Zoey was another face on a wall and while people recognized her from her picture there wasn’t that connection anymore. I can’t keep thinking of my daughter as the tiny hobbit baby in a plastic box. She has other priorities now bouncing balls, birds, cars, and Elmo. When problems arise, they wouldn’t be of the NICU variety.
I left without saying goodbye, there was nobody to say goodbye to. I can’t say I will miss seeing those double doors ever again. I felt guilty for not taking the doughnuts in on her birthday but I have a feeling that emotion will be gone next year. I get to take my daughter for walks now, letting her see the vast world that she is now a part of and maybe it’s time to leave behind the tiny world that she had come from.
We rode the elevator down, walked down the halls as people’s heads turned talking about how cute she was and left the hospital for the last time. I still wonder if the NICU ever got their doughnuts not that they would know who they were from but I can always hope.

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Time for Plan B

I had a plan for this year, one that would hopefully put me back where I was a few years ago but times are changing and I am having trouble keeping up. I spent weeks coming home from work and recording an audiobook for Audible in the hopes of reaching a market that was out of my reach before. I enjoy audiobooks, hell for the most part it’s the only way I get to read these days. I spent more grueling hours editing the material, making sure it fit the specifications for the site and in the end, there were issues with the files. This isn’t the end of the story.
I still have hours of material that is waiting to be heard. This Sunday some friends and I will be recording the first of what could be many podcasts. It’s a chance to hang out, have some fun, talk about what whatever we want and plug our stuff in the meantime. Originally, I thought we would have to go through SoundCloud, an expensive site that I had used in the past and manually connect the podcast to Apple, Spotify and all the other sites, a huge pain in the butt. Then someone on Instagram pointed me towards Anchor.fm where they connect you with sponsors and connect your podcast to all the other outlets for listeners. In the end dear reader, you ended up with not one but two podcasts for your future enjoyment.
I started the Typing Piper Classics podcast where every week I upload a new segment of my audiobooks for your listening pleasure. The first episode is available now. I’m starting out with Daisy the book that I spend so many hours recording. I have a backlog of material at the moment which means I can focus on writing new material in the meantime for this blog and Amazon. I hope that you will join me on this new adventure and maybe something special will become of it. Who knows, in the future if things go well, I can afford to have some professionally produced audiobooks created in the future.
Also, Golden will be released on July 1 on Amazon as an eBook and in print. It’s a Novella length memoir and if you have been reading this blog then you might have already read it. There isn’t that much new material, the original post have been cleaned up and I will be happy when I have a printed copy sitting on my shelf at home. Daisy and Motherf*cker, my year as a degenerate cook, are still scheduled to come out early June.
While all of this is happening, I will continue to work on the 5-year anniversary editions of the After the Day series and those will start being turned into serialized podcast later this year. My schedule is full and if you don’t see me on here for stretches of time know that I am likely working on something new. Outlines have been written for an upcoming trilogy, working title is After America. My plan for this is to have the whole trilogy written when it is released. I figure if people can binge watch Netflix why wouldn’t they want to binge read a new series? These will be longer books than what I have been producing lately so don’t expect it any time soon. Know that there will be material coming out in the meantime but something big is one the way.
-Matthew Gilman

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The Catch 22 of political correctness in the workplace

In the few places I have worked over my lifetime I have seen a rise in the enforcement of politically correct policies in recent years. While these may appear to be a good thing at first it raises questions about where we are heading as a society and how the work place will function in the future.
Traditionally the social structure of a company was determined by the value of the employee on par with how they worked and how much a company made from their labor in exchange for the cost. Let’s face it, a company’s job is to pay its employees the least amount of money for the most amount of work. There is an agreement, an exchange here between employee and the company. The employee may enjoy what they are doing for a living and so the job is its own reward. The company, if it is smart will look for people who thrive in their chosen business with the hope of maximizing profits through these employees. The formula wasn’t complicated, until now.
With the workplace becoming more diverse policies are changing and there is a new generation of people coming in demanding a change from the old system. Criteria for jobs are changing but nobody seems to know what they are. There are odd classes with names like “hidden racism” and “proper use of pronouns.” The last one is kind of funny and I will explain in a moment. There is a re-education happening and while we look at places like China and cringe at the thought of people being put into camps to learn how to be a better citizen the same thing is happening here but under the threat of losing your job. Adapt or find new employment.
The pronoun game is for those who don’t understand language. The most common versions are he, she, and they, although there are many more that are being added all the time. What I find to be the most interesting about this topic is that people request to be called these pronouns, fair enough. When was the last time you referred to the person you were talking to as he? Or she? Or they? Why would you use these words when they have a name? these pronouns are for when you are talking to someone else about that person. “she said this.” “they did that.” “He is out of his mind.” The person is not present when you use these words. A person can request, or demand, how others talk about them while they are not present. Personal conversations are now subject to the public court of law.
There is another change in HR policies that is shaking things up, the use of hearsay and rumors is now being used as evidence for termination or disiplinary action. How a rumor looks can caused HR to hold a meeting to address how to move ahead. “This looks bad” is now cause for alarm as opposed to “is this true.” What would not hold up in court is good enough for a company to do something. There doesn’t appear to be due process anymore and with the “right to work” laws, a complete BS name, workers can no longer sue for unjust termination and employees can be fired for no reason at all. In fact, it is best to terminate an employee and not give a reason, leaving the company free from retaliation.
I don’t know where things are going with this. There was a time when talking politics at work was taboo but lately I have seen people carrying “I love abortion” backpacks and talking about being oppressed by white people, with some of this coming from white people. I sit back and scratch my head. I can see now the desire for people to work on their own, the desire to become one’s own boss and be free from such a strange social structure. When your very existence is always in question and everything you say or do can be interpreted in some strange way why would you want to work in that kind of environment?
I understand where the social justice movement came from. The desire to make the world a better place for everyone is a goal that we should strive for. Having people be accepted for who they are sounds like a good idea, but at what cost. Trying to force people to change who they are does the exact opposite of what the SJW movement says they want to do. Instead of creating one culture with a single goal in mind it creates an us versus them mentality that causes more division in the workplace with some people going into hiding rather than be exposed as the person they really are. In the end people are being hurt for the sake of not hurting people. This is why utopian novels turn into nightmares by the end.
There was a time when the country came together for one cause. There was no religion, race, or social background. Chaplains had to learn the rights of all religions as part of their job. Jim bob from corn country worked next to john smith from corporate America. These people had one goal in mind and differences were set aside to achieve that goal. We can look back and say “ya but they were killing Nazis and Japs” but keep in mind if that didn’t happen, we wouldn’t have had the civil rights movement. Do you think those years of just being Americans didn’t change things for the years that followed?
If the SJW movement is going to do anything besides piss people off they need to have one goal in mind. These petty little battles do little in the way of changing society and in the end, they resulted in the election of Donald Trump. Thanks a lot.

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Price’s Law, why companies pay the price

I first heard of Price’s Law on a Jordan Peterson YouTube video months ago and something about it stuck with me. When he explained the principles, everything started to make sense. A small fraction of people does the majority of the work. I had seen this time and time again and never thought of it as some kind of law.
Here’s how it works, you take the square root of the number of employees and that is the number of people who do 50% of the work, which is a hell of a lot. Plus, keep in mind that means there are just as many, if not more, employees who contribute nothing to the company. The odd part is the people who do the majority of the work know who they are, most of the employees know who they are. Most of the time management doesn’t know who they are.
When a company starts to have a hard time, or the writing is on the wall to abandon ship the people in that bottom portion who are keeping things afloat are the first to go. They have options, they know they can get the same job or a better one for more pay elsewhere and they do. So now the ten people out of a hundred are gone and half the work is not getting done with the 90 people who are left. Things spiral out of control and the company turns to shit.
I watched this before when I worked at a hospital. The 13th year I worked there nobody got a raise, they were starting everyone at zero and depending on how you performed you could look forward to a nice paycheck. After a year the reviews started to come in. supervisors were bringing up things that happened years before, things that the employee had already been disciplined for and brought up in previous reviews. If you were sent an email reminding you about something you were marked down. Punch in a minute late during blizzard when most of the staff didn’t show up and called in, fuck you no raise. It was clear the hospital didn’t want to pay anyone more than they desired and the writing on the wall was to jump ship. This hospital was the titanic and I knew how to row a boat.
I was the guy who was sent the email reminding me of a meeting. I didn’t ask for an email, there was no reason to send one, but my supervisor did and so I was marked down. My raise that year, 5 cents. I quickly did the math I my head and told him that didn’t even cover inflation and that I was making less than last year. He nodded his head in agreement and went on with the review. I didn’t pay attention. I refused to sign the review, and in the end, turned in a three-week notice. “Find somebody to replace me, you’re going to need it.”
Within a week 12 more people turned in their notices to the same supervisor and the same thing was happening across the hospital. Everyone was jumping ship and leaving as fast as possible. I don’t know if this was their plan all along. I heard stories during those final days of the most worthless person on the floor getting a four on their review while the people pulling their weight were marked down for the dumbest of reasons. The scoring for these reviews were odd.
There were different categories and you could score 1-5. A 1 meant you sucked at your job and were looking at being fired. A five was deemed impossible to achieve, nobody got a 5. 3 meant you were doing what you supposed to be doing and a 4 was going above and beyond what was asked. Of course, nobody was allowed to talk about their reviews with other people but word spread and the hospital turned into a total clusterfuck of chaos.
I ended up taking a job with the county after that for the same pay and I wasn’t cleaning up body parts off the floor. A year after that I almost doubled my pay at my current job.
The year of FUBAR at the hospital wasn’t the only example I came across of this behavior. I watched people bid for jobs they were qualified for and be turned down for some office politics that did not take into account the most qualified person for the job and instead used some other criteria that nobody could figure out. When you work hard and do mare than is asked and are turned down for a position you start to wonder what is the point.
Canada had a program to bring in highly skilled people from other countries through there immigration policies. These people applied and from their skills they were brought in and made citizens of the country. It was a high honor that people strived for. Then the policy changed, numbers needed to be filled regarding race and gender. Suddenly the most qualified were being rejected for reasons that didn’t make any sense and the program started to be viewed as a joke.
A few years after I left the hospital, I ended up being a patient there. My daughter was in the NICU and everyday for 91 days I was there and could see how the quality of work had dwindled. Don’t get me wrong, the room was clean and the staff working with her was amazing, but the elevator was broken for a majority of the time we were there. The hallways were dirty. Cleaning staff was rarely seen except for the lunch rooms. I was one of these people, I knew what was expected of me back then. Somehow over the years, things had changed.
The people like me had left and found something better.
So, what is the lesson from all of this? If you are taken advantage of at your job find a new one. Go where your skills will be appreciated. If your job is telling you to be happy you have a job, that is a huge sign that they don’t give a shit about you. If you find yourself doing most of the work don’t be surprised when your supervisor has no idea what is going on. When they do know what is happening don’t expect them to stick around. The last good boss I had at the hospital was fired. The manager said they didn’t know how to do their job, then they were replaced with one of the worst bosses I could have had. If you know you are one of those people, those who do a majority of the work where you are, know that you have options. When things start to look bad, run. The two things that could happen is that you find something similar to what you’re doing, or you come across something better. Aim for better, don’t settle.

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The Tale of Ninja Matt

It was a Tuesday night when my neighbor decided he was going to have a party in his car parked behind his house. I didn’t think anything of it at first knowing that on previous nights like this one the parties were short lived after he downed a bottle of vodka and passed out in his house. This night was already turning out differently from the rest.
I was upstairs in my office working on a story when the music started. The bass of the subwoofer vibrated the windows of my house and looking outside I could see the car rocking back and forth as the occupants hollered out the lyrics to a rap song. My wife came into the room with a window overlooking the backyard and alley and looked out at the car with smoke billowing out of the windows.
“Do you hear this shit?” she asked as the walls shook.
“Yup,” I said not wanting to deal with it. This kind of thing had become a regular occurrence throughout the summer and I wanted to see how long it would go on before calling the police.
“I’m calling the cops,” she said before I stopped her.
“That’s the one neighbor that likes us. We aren’t going to bed yet. If they are still at it in an hour then I’ll call.”
I didn’t take long for the guys outside to ruin their own party. Dennis lived in the house since the year before and I had learned from talking to him that his sister owned the house and let him stay in it. He owned the Cadillac parked behind it and I had no idea what he did for a living. Tonight, his job was to party and they were taking it very seriously.
“They’re throwing things in our yard,” she said in disgust and horror.
I bolted out of my chair and looked out the window to see a beer can soaring through the air into my yard. Next was a liquor bottle and other trash. This was a line they should not have crossed.
“What are you going to do?” she asked.
“Giving it back.”
I went into the bedroom and pulled out all the black clothes I owned. Head to toe I looked like Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon and I snuck out the front door and into the back yard. I walked around picking up all the cans and liquor bottles of which there were already many. I walked over to the fence and tossed them back over without anyone noticing. The smell of marijuana was in the air. Dennis sat on his porch puffing away at his own joint while a second made the rounds in the car.
I sat back on a bench in my yard and waited for the next item to fly over the fence. Upstairs my wife watched and waited. Her job was to call the police if there was some kind of altercation during this adventure.
The music was cracked up and the lyrics “fuck that bitch, fuck that bitch” were repeated through the neighborhood. As the song was cracked up, the windows were rolled down and a red light flew over the fence, a burning ember like a shooting star across the sky. I ran over to it and found the cigarette still lit. I picked up the butt and flicked it back over the fence in the same direction it came from. I sat back on the bench and waited for the next thing.
What I didn’t see was that the lit cigarette went back through the sunroof if had been thrown through and into the car. A minute later all hell broke loose.
The following is the conversation I heard between four very drunk and high men from the other side of the fence. I don’t know who was speaking at the time:
“Ow, ow man, what the fuck man. Oh shit, get it off get it off. What the fuck!”
“What the fuck you doing in my car man?”
“Man, that cigarette burned my leg man.”
“Why the fuck you burn your leg?”
“I didn’t burn my leg. Why the fuck you throw that cigarette in the car man?”
“Why the fuck would I throw a cigarette in my own car?”
“I saw you throw that cigarette in the car. It came in through the sunroof.”
“Why the fuck would I do that? It’s my fucking car.”
“This hurts really bad man. This shit hurts.”
“Man, it’s a cigarette. Why you being a bitch?”
“Look at it, this shit hurts. What the fuck you want me to do?”
“Why the fuck are you guys throwing shit in my car?”
“How the fuck did we throw it in? we’re in the motherfucking car.”
“I gots ta go to the hospital.”
“You aint got to go to the hospital. It’s a cigarette burn.”
“Look at this shit. This shit hurts.”
“Fuck you.”
“Man, his pants are burnt and everything.”
“What the fuck, you want me to drive your ass to the hospital when we downed a fifth of absolute. Are you out of your fucking mind?”
“This fucking shit hurts man.”
“God damn it.”
I hear keys jingling out of a pocket and the car doors opening.
“Get in the fucking car.”
The car starts and the Cadillac slowly strolls out of the tight space and disappears into the alley.
I go back into the house where my wife is on the floor laughing.
“Oh my god, how the hell did you do that? That cigarette went right back through the sunroof they threw it through. What the hell happened?”
“It landed in a guys lap and burned him. They’re taking him to the hospital.”
We both laughed and started to enjoy the silence of the night. The yard was clean, the air smelled fresh and the sound of bats could be heard fluttering through the air. We finally had our night back.
The next morning, I saw Dennis in his yard mumbling to himself. I went out back and started racking the leaves that were already starting to fall from the trees.
“These lazy ass motherfuckers,” Dennis pops his head over the fence. “these motherfuckers come over to my house and trashed my fucking yard. Ain’t nobody got any respect these days.”
“Man, that sucks,” I had to force my laughter deep down to get through this conversation.
“Fucking liquor bottles, beer cans. Who drinks this shit? Those motherfuckers ain’t coming back here. Fuck this shit.”
Dennis’ car wasn’t there and I wondered what happened to it. He put all the bottles and cans into a grocery bag and set it by the house where it would stay. Dennis disappeared after saying a few choice words about his friends and I never saw him again after that. The car never returned and the house was declared condemned a few months later. I can’t say I miss Dennis, the man who would catch catfish out of the local rivers and dump the heads and guts behind the fence to rot stinking up my yard. The guy who would hit on my wife while sunbathing. The guy who told his friends to throw their shit in my yard the night before. That guy, fuck that guy. I hope they were pulled over, the car impounded, maybe his license taken away. When you act like an asshole, sometimes you’re going to get fucked. Do not mess with the ninja Matt, you will never know what happened.

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