Friday, January 10, 2014

Pop Goes The Economy

As I predicted, gas prices would begin to drop but this time in July. The small number of ads were shocking to the crew in advertising. Many whole departments had been closed like classified which was now totally automated over the internet. People wanting a classified ad in the paper simply created their own ad without dealing with an employee at the paper over the phone like in the olden days. Those workers were simply fired and sent to the unemployment lines. This was very unusual for the paper - really unprecedented. The normal procedure was to buy out the worker rather than go through unemployment which would drive up the paper's cost for government unemployment insurance. So it was a shock to the remaining employees. Everyone was on edge now. The tiny number of back to school ads was to say the least shocking to everybody.

Also shocking was Tom getting pushed into early retirement. With a wife who didn't work, a big mortgage payment worthy of a Washington Post manager and an expensive lifestyle the last thing Tom needed was the puny retirement check that he would receive along with the buyout money. He would be in trouble and everyone attending his retirement party could see that on his face. He was not happy about it and haggled to be allowed to stay an additional month on the job to earn ten years and more retirement money. The paper acquiesced granting him his extra month on the job. Dave several times could hear Tom apparently having an argument over the phone with his wife because he sat nearby. This was not a good time for Tom and that last month he spent grousing around about the paper. For most of the staff they saw the irony in Tom being forced out after being so heavy handed and forcing out so many others before him. For some his fate seemed appropriate but everybody was nervous now. Though Randy, me and Tumbleweed had seen heads of advertising operations roll before, most of the staff were newer hires and had never seen a top guy get retirement-fired. That made everyone feel vulnerable including Dave who'd recently become a manager himself though he was one of those recent hires.

I believed top government officials were in on staging 9/11 and now I'd learned about their involvement in other acts of treason like the Oklahoma City bombing that included a daycare center with little children. But on the operations floor Dave being a manager, managing, saw people milling about with nothing to do. I noticed him looking at me and I nodded to him. I was thinking it was more obvious the paper wanted to shed as many employees as possible including Dave, me and Tumbleweed too. I still felt without hesitation that the paper was involved in covering up these attacks and that was a worrisome thought. One quick way to cut the staff at the paper would be to blow us all to pieces. Initially, me and everyone at the paper worried they might all be blown up from an attack outside the building. Most still felt that way but I now worried an attack would be from the inside. The elevator work had worried me while it was ongoing but now that it was completed it actually looked pretty stylish. So hoped it was a simple an actual renovation. My former manager was now the head of advertising operations. As far as I knew he had never looked at the link I gave him. So I felt frustrated.

Crystal appears at my desk. "What do you think about this bad economic stuff?" She asks me. "It's worse than people realize. You need to get your 401k money and any kind of investment like stocks turned into cash right now." Crystal sighed, "I can't. The paper won't let me at my 401k unless I'm in distress economically." I don't quite understand these investment rules because I've never invested any of my life there. "What do you mean?" She explains her situation. "I'm not paying my mortgage now. If I get six months behinds then the paper will let me at my 401k money. As it is now they take my 401k contribution and it vanishes into a black hole. It drops every month and the paper no longer matches the contributions." I remark flatly, "Get out from it as soon as you can." This is all Vera can take as she listens in nearby. "Tomas you always talk conspiracy nonsense. Investments go up and investments go down. Over the long haul if you just stay pat you will make money in the market. Crystal is young and impressionable and you are giving her bad advice once again!" Crystal and I both shut off our conversation not wanting any trouble now that we were so expendable. After work as Crystal and I left for the night I had parked several blocks away and Crystal said she'd give me a ride to my car.

As we got into Crystal's Civic she started her car then began to cry. "What's wrong dear?" I asked Crystal putting my arm on her shoulder. "Oh, I haven't paid the mortgage and the entire condo experience has been a nightmare. You were right. You warned me not to buy the damn condo when everybody else was coaxing me on - the realtors, the bankers. I should have listened to you. I should have listened." She breaks down sobbing which freaks me out and I'm not sure how to respond at the moment. However, I've been reading more and more of the emerging alternative media over the net. Recently large banks had collapsed leaving depositors waiting for their money, I had been warned several weeks earlier but not by the mainstream media. I had heard about the banks being in danger of failure over the Internet. Then sure enough weeks later the banks did fail. I figured sticking with the truth was what Crystal still needed. "Here's the thing hon'. So what if you're not paying your mortgage? It will be years before the bank can work their way through all the foreclosures to get to you. This time around for the bust cycle you have lots of Americans in the same boat as you not paying their mortgages. The banks are in a trap of their own making. They know if they kick you out of the house now before they have buyers then the place will deteriorate and constantly drop in value. You could live here three or four years and pocket all the money you would have paid to the mortgage." Crystal has stopped crying and asks. "You think there are that many people not paying their mortgages now?" I nod my head. "Oh yeah dear. Big time! You're just not hearing about it on the tube. Bernanke recently even claimed he'd never seen such a strong Real Estate market. Yeah but Ben hasn't been looking at the Real Estate section every week with the same properties available for less money like I have. I think the economy is ready to take a dive. It's the end of the business cycle which is really the end of the money cycle. The central banks of the world have jacked up a huge real estate price bubble and locked in a lot of people like you Crystal into high priced adjustable rate mortgages. Now they're popping the economy by cutting the supply of money which will cause prices to fall. It always does because of supply and demand. When the supply of money in the economy declines the money still in the economy increases in value. I've seen it before after the 1970's. Something tells me this is not going to be another run-of-the-mill recession though."

Crystal drives Dave to his car. She has perked up emotionally after the talk. At least she's not crying anymore. She thinks I may be right about her being able to just stay in the condo which in itself is a relief at least temporarily. After she parks by Dave's car they hug for a few seconds then Dave gives her a kiss on the cheek. "I'm sure everything is going to work out find dear." I smile at her. Crystals nods and smiles back at me while I out of her car. I got into my car for the drive home wondering about things myself. How would the economic bust affect me this time?

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Alan's Dying - The Economy's Dead

As time passed I settled into the reality that even though I was armed with the truth everybody had already settled for a pack of lies. I calmed down about the knowledge of the treason and settle into my new reality. The government was the terrorists, at least some of the rogues. Mom and dad both worked for the government and I know damn well they wouldn't have anything to do with this. I figure most bureaucrats are just like my parents - well meaning, compartmentalized dupes just doing a job for a country they really believe in.

After awhile I came to realize the media was in on the cover-up including the paper. Worse yet, I learned that before the World Trade Centers had been blown up, a now defunct elevator company was doing extensive work on the elevators. Many of the explosive experts and eyewitness seemed to suggest that many of the explosives were placed into the elevator shafts. This really worried me as the elevators in the building had just started to be renovated at the Post. Was another false flag be launch at the paper? I genuinely worried about it. I even went as far as to discuss it with the guards. The Post security guards and I always had good relations. I talk to them like friends do and they really appreciated it. So they listened to me when I explained how the towers were most likely blown up. Virtually all of them came from other countries where everybody knew the governments were crooked. So they heeded my warning and kept an eye out for funny business. That made me relax further even though some aspect of my situation were worrisome. The paper sure had way too many high priced employees. I didn't want to become a name on a memorial wall to victims of another terrorist attack blamed on Arabs, patriots, Martians whoever but committed by domestic traitors foisted on a duped public.

I sat down and logged onto the network. Immediately Crystal rushes over and says, "Did you hear about Alan?" I responded, "No." Crystal continued, "He's got cancer." I shook my head. "How bad?" A more worried look came across her face and she answered, "Pretty bad." Alan had been out of work quite a bit recently and I was wondering about it. But with everything going on in his mind he'd been occupied with those matters.

As the two spoke about Alan they notice him across the room coming to work. "There's Alan now." I remarked surprised to see him walking in. "He's out of sick leave now." Crystal explains as she's been in contact with Alan. "The paper will docked his wages if he doesn't come to work." Alan walks by smiling though he appears to have aged ten years since we saw him a month or so ago. "Hi everybody." Alan says with a weak smile as he is passing by. "Hey Alan. Good to see you back on the job. Still not much work though." I comment to Alan who is getting settled at his desk. Crystal and I whisper in hushed voices about Alan as we watch him begin to go about his job. Everything was laborious and very difficult for Alan to do. He looked like he was already halfway dead and the two of us wondered how he had the will to even make it to work. Watching Alan reminded us how lucky we are just to be healthy and alive. Being alive was not something Alan would be the following week. When he left work at the end of his shift he would never return again. Next week when Villi, Alan's manager, called the staff over for a stand up meeting she was holding back tears. "I just wanted everybody to know that Alan passed away yesterday."

And that was that for Alan. As far as the staff knew it appeared Alan went from being healthy to being dead in about a month. Surely he had suffered much longer but would not let it show. He never complained once about his fate. The staff had to carry on after learning of Alan's demise and many lost it for a while and cried uncontrollably. Eventually everyone settled back into the grind of the usual routine. That meant not doing much work. It also meant not screwing up when anyone did have work. The staff was warned on more than one occasion to not give up any write-offs. It seemed like every few months the paper was having some grand send off of long time workers, usually managers. These buyouts were getting less rewarding which was obvious during the festivities honoring their forced departure. The look on the faces of the forced retirees said it all. They didn't want to go. They just couldn't afford to go. They had no where else to go. Ronnie was one of the final exceptions. He retired on his own terms and the paper threw him a grand shindig. Even Donald Graham personally presided over faire to send Ronnie off into a comfortable retirement. Everyone thereafter in management would go kicking and grumbling out the side door. Donald Graham seemed a nice enough person the few times we spoke. As for his part in the 9/11 treason I came to believe he had to know about it or be much stupider than his accomplishments would suggest. But who knows about the whole situation? His father died supposedly from suicide but then again lots of people who know too much meet the same fate. Suicide by proxy. So I can't say what pressure Mr. Graham may have been under.

With Ronnie gone and replaced with Tom, things were going to change. If it even appeared someone was doing something wrong they were in Tom's office explaining themselves. That was especially so for me, more so for Tumbleweed and extremely so for Randy. Everyday Tom would ride Randy's ass about something. Tom's management style was intimidation which fit with his large stature. He wanted to be liked at the same time and would attempt to joke with the staff who responded with forced laughter and painful smiles. When Amy, a small Filipina lady, thought she was being helpful Photoshopping more hair onto the head of the "after" picture in a hair restoration ad, Tom went off on the sale woman whose account it was. "You have no integrity madam and you have dishonored the paper!" He shouted into the phone on her voicemail. The sales lady was so angry she immediately deleted his message out of anger. That was a fortunate thing for Tom since he had leveled many vile allegation at the woman who never had anything to do with helper Amy adding hair to the after picture. The sales lady complained to upper management about Tom but since she had deleted the voicemail Tom denied he'd ever said those things. He knew when to lie and where to deflect blame so he would be safe from harm. That was a close call for him. Needless to say Amy was warned never to add hair to hair restoration ads.

For the other workers in advertising there were other more pressing worries. The paper had gone from a bustling 24 hour operation with people rushing around everywhere, to a ghost building. Most nights we spent chatting the shift away until quitting time. What was on everybody's mind as well was the price of gasoline. In 2007 the price began going up and now it was going through the roof. Randy complained blaming the liberals naturally. "The reason gas is so high is the liberals in Congress and the environmental whacko wing-nuts refuse to allow drilling in the ocean. On top of that there hasn't been a new refinery built in America in decades." Most of the staff, especially the upper management were the limo liberal types and counter arguments flew at Randy from all directions. Amy complained in her slight Filipina accent, "We need more alternative energy." Someone else nearby shouted, "More windmills!" That got Randy to start shaking his head in disgust. He heard another worker chime in, "Tax big oil." Finally I been sitting by idly listening to the standard arguments foisted by the mainstream media and I couldn't restrain myself any longer even with the risks that came with conveying ideas at the paper or "instigating conversations" and whatnot. "You're all wrong. The reason gas is so expensive is the value of the dollar is dropping. The Federal Reserve is printing up lots of fiat dollars but since you can't see it you don't understand how your money is being devalued. Add to this fact, Bush has just advanced us some of our tax return money for next year and we are also getting our regular tax refunds now. The oil companies are just jacking up the price of gas because they know we have it now. You watch. About July or August the price of gasoline will start to drop which is when the tax return gravy train ends for the oil cartels. It will continue to drop right up until Thanksgiving when the oil monopolists will jack it back up to gouge the holiday travelers. Quit being suckers for the MSM."

My shellacking everybody on economics has quieted the staff as no one knows how to counter such arguments. As usual they have that bobble head dog in the rear window look about them. My arguments do not fall into the usual left right spectrum of arguing points. Worse yet, many feared this talk about Federal Reserves and printing up money that I was going on about had a ring of truth to it. Ooo pretty scary stuff! It was easier to think me crazy instead for most. Everyone went back to their computers doing what pleased them. For some that meant listening to music or watching a movie since Tom had gone home making his movie ban at work effectively null and void. A few started Google searching to see if I might be onto something. But most shopped or scanned prices online. The prices for almost everything except large screen TVs had been going up, not just gasoline. Everybody wanted to know why. I'd seen it before in the Seventies so when some on the floor actually spoke of government price controls on gasoline I groaned. I explained to them about the gas lines and odd even rationing. Still some were unconvinced and were willing to chance the risks that they'd have to line up at four in the morning for a fill up.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Broken Water, Shaken Confidence

Others would die from the anthrax attack - but not Tumbleweed. He had had the misfortune of catching a miserable cold during an anthrax attack. The experience did force Tumbleweed to finally tidy his condo a bit and put any video or other evidence into a bag that he could, if necessary, drop into the trash chute down the hall before dying the next time. Back on the job it was the monthly advertising meeting night. At the prescribed time everyone stopped what they were doing and headed to one of the conference rooms in the building. Tumbleweed along with the rest of the advertising department moved through the cubicles like zombies heading for some fresh flesh. In fact there would be food at the meeting and drinks as well. Of course, it wasn't like back in the old days when every meeting had a full bar. The liquor was top shelf and the food was catered, mostly leaning towards the crab and shrimp end of the food scale far from the wieners and potato chips. In the old days, at least according to Randy who been there since the 1960's, the smell of reefer burning in the hallways was common. One worker at the paper ran a liquor store out of his locker at work if anyone wanted a bottle of booze or beer after the liquor stores closed early in the evening. Driving to PG County to get late night liquor wasn't necessary if you didn't mind the limited selection. There was a great deal of sex at work at the paper. Dave's manager had told him about the time he had sex with one of the cleaning ladies late at night. Randy was always telling stories about how it use to be at the paper. The pay was great and the work was easy. There was no internet, cable, etc. If you wanted to advertise anything it was in the paper. The paper had a virtual monopoly and raked in the profits year after year no matter what the economy did. It was recession proof. Those were the heydays.

As the workers filed into the bigger auditorium each was handed a red package. Everyone made their way to the immediately for the food tables that still had pretty good faire at that point in time. This night they would eat food catered from the cafeteria. It wasn't teriyaki steak on sticks or crab balls but it was good old wholesome meat and potatoes stuff from Carol in the cafeteria. She knew how to cook so this was just fine for Tumbleweed especially since the paper closed the cafeteria at 7 PM nowadays. Management said it was a cost saving measure which the workers were informed of at a meeting just like the one they were attending on this very night. Everything concerning the direction of the paper was presented to the workers in meetings down the chain of command to people like Tumbleweed and me. Of course there was the official line and there was what was really going on which we could find out from Randy. Randy knew the right people at the paper to get the real story. Randy had mentioned to Tumbleweed earlier in the shift before the meeting that management was going to hand out some kind of kit. After loading his plate with food Tumbleweed returned to his table. He started to eat as he opened the velcro flap of his kit. He was sitting at the table with Randy, Dave, Rodney and Crystal an ad makers. One by one his fellow table denizens sat next to Tumbleweed who was busily removing items from this little red package. This was some kind of emergency kit. As Tumbleweed plucked items from the package he stated for his table mates what he found before laying it on the table next to his plate. "Flashlight, surgical gloves, emergency poncho, scissors." Tumbleweed stops to take a bite of his long neglected food. Savoring the taste he unzips the front of the pouch and pulls out a flattened container that was at one time apparently filled with water. Now it had all leaked out before ever reaching Tumbleweed who without thinking muttered, "My water broke." To which Dave responds, "I didn't even know you were knocked up." Rodney laughs and remarks, "Tumbleweed I thought you had glandular weight problem." Everyone at the take exploded into laughter. Everyone with the exception of Tumbleweed of course who was busy claiming repeatedly that he wasn't pregnant though no one heard his pleas. 

The meeting began and as usual various managers explained the statistics each was responsible for monitoring. The table was still giggling about Tumbleweed who they were referring to now as "Broken Water." As they did they raised their hand like the 1950's television Indians. Ronnie cleared his throat looking sternly towards the table freezing everyone's laughter instantly before giving the numbers on the write-offs.  Fortunately the write offs for screw up were continuing to decline each month. What use to be several million dollars each year for write off was now down to a couple hundred thousand and dropping. That was a good thing too because so were the amount and size of the ads making it to the page these days. But the most ominous detail was the drop in paying subscribers. In the old days if anyone wanted lots of information conveyed to their customers they needed to spend tens of thousands of dollars for full page ads. These days a full page ad might cost over one hundred thousand dollars depending on the circumstances. Sadly for the paper's bottom line fewer and fewer ads of any kind were being sold. Classified ads especially had been decimated by the internet. No one was willing to pay the paper thirty dollars to print three small classified lines when they could have paragraphs of advertising classified information using complete with pictures of the items for sale. The first time Tumbleweed heard craigslist mentioned at the meeting he immediately went to the site after it ended. Sure enough, free ads. That can't be good for business Tumbleweed reckoned. As usual Ronnie thanked everyone for having a great month and that only a few minor write offs occurred. These were the fault of Sales so they didn't even fall into the staff's laps.

Finally, Ronnie begins explaining the emergency kits given to each of them by the paper. He explains the reasoning which to some in the room like me and Randy sounds like the duck and cover drills back during the Cuban Missile Crisis at school. Each drill seemed more about pacifying nerves rather than increasing safety. Still everyone listen in somber, silence as Ronnie continued continued to explain things like the emergency escape routes from the building should an airplane or something attack the paper. Ronnie pulls items from the emergency package explaining the purpose for each. However, when Ronnie listed the emergency package of water it was more than Tumbleweed's table could stand and they all began giggling once again in a room filled with people who were being reminded of the 9/11 attack. "Is there something funny we should all know about?" Ronnie demanded in his no nonsense tone. Randy spoke up hoping to break to tension while in fact telling the truth replied to Ronnie's question, "It's just Tumbleweed." Randy grabbed the flatted empty water container and explained calmly, "His water broke." The rest of the room was just beginning to laugh when Ronnie replied, "You need to see the nurse Tumbleweed?" By this point the entire room collapsed into pandemonium. Everyone was laughing so Ronnie said over the microphone for anyone with questions to ask their managers and adjourned the meeting. Slowly everyone filed out of the room still laughing and calling out to Tumbleweed who was being referred to by everyone now as broken water.

The crew had only been back at their desks for a short time before the psst was being passed around on the floor because it was Crystal's birthday. The workers at the paper never missed an opportunity to have a celebration so everybody got a little party on their birthday with cake, ice cream, balloons and the Happy Birthday song sung by a collection of good and very bad singers. Though recently stuffed at the meeting the crew had no problem downing more. They were the definition of foodies. Everyone but a couple exceptions loved and lived to eat. Most had the obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes to prove it as well. Though they did not find themselves as bad off as Tumbleweed. Still young, Tumbleweed had already been diagnosed with signs of pre-diabetes. Even so, everyone was waiting in the conference room when they brought Crystal in with the made-up excuse. Everyone began to sing happy birthday. After the initial niceties had been dispensed with, everyone got down to what they were really there for - the treats. The crew file around the table taking their turns grabbing cake, ice cream and whatnot. Dave having been one of the first in line sat eating eating his dessert as Tumbleweed hopped by him with a little plate piled high with delights. Just a second after passing by him, Dave notices a balloon following behind Tumbleweed. He sees that the ribbon tied to one of the decorative balloons and has a paperclip tied to the other end. That clip has been hooked to Tumbleweed's belt loop in the back. Immediately, Dave turns in Randy's direction knowing what a practical joker he is. Randy is already looking at Dave nodding his head smiling as if to say, "Yeah it was me alright." Dave busted out laughing as Tumbleweed carried his plate of dessert out of the conference room - his balloon friend following close behind. Where ever Tumbleweed went the balloon was sure to followed. Tumbleweed sat back at his desk and the balloon came to rest hovering several feet over his head. Randy walk by singing, "Up, up and away. In my beautiful my beautiful, Baaaalooooooon." The floor began to giggle except for Tumbleweed of course who still hadn't realized he was sporting a parasitic twin overhead. Tumbleweed got up several times and hopped here and there but never noticing his companion. Finally, he darted quickly in one direction but realized he needed to go back to his desk first and ran straight into the balloon catching it between the palms of his hands. He grabs the ribbon reeling it in until he realizes it's attached to his belt. Detaching the clip he comments, "That's not funny, Randy." To which Randy throws his hands apart claiming innocents. "I thought you were making some kind of fashion statement, dude."

Randy was the master practical joker, to be sure, but like the old lion, the younger upstarts were nipping at his heels. The worst position anyone on the ad operations floor could find themselves in would be to turn around and find Randy silently standing there smiling. Those in-the-know would immediately begin checking themselves for kick me signs or other jokes of varying deviousness. If you heard Randy or anyone singing, "I've got spurs that jingle jangle jingle," it's best to immediately check the back of the heels of their shoes to see if Randy may have taped a pair of pink paper cutout spurs there. Or if people started referring to you as "partner" or saying "howdy sheriff" then there was a better than average chance Randy had taped a pink paper badge on your shirt and a cutout of a gun on your side. But Tumbleweed having released his balloon friend to the universe went back to closing his sections. As the evening progressed and the work flow ended for most of the crew on the floor, people began gravitating around Randy's work station. Alan, a gay man who built ads walked over and asked, "Hey what's the name of that evangelists...?" But before he can finish his inquiry Randy shouts, "Jim Jones!" To which Alan replies, "No." Then Dave follows with "Jim Bakker." Alan shakes his head no. "Jimmy Swaggard!" Alan says, "No not him." "They Righteous Brothers!" Someone screams to which Alan says no shaking his head. "The Andrew Sisters." Shouts someone else. Laughing Alan says, "No they're not evangelists - they're singing groups." But Dave interjects, "Oral Robert." Alan replies "no not him either." "Anal Robert!" Dave responds and the whole groups starts laughing. "No," Alan laughs shaken his head and wagging his naughty finger. "There's no such person as Anal Robert."

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Something Funny Going On

The following night found the workers in advertising production with little to do again. Randy recalled that back in the 1960's and 1970's the advertising revenue of the paper was one of the government's leading economic indicators. But they had been dropped from that role as the world changed and the numbers wouldn't fit with the narrative that the government wanted to convey. Still the number of ads in the paper were a good indication of how the economy was doing. Randy reckoned that signs didn't appear favorable as the number of ads had plummeted further than the usual drop off in the late spring and summer. More disturbing to me was I kept seeing the same Real Estate being offered each week for sale and noticed the prices were dropping. At the same time food costs were soaring and gasoline was really getting expensive too. The same held true for electricity. This was a worrisome combination. I knew this was a sign that money was being flooded into the economy by the Federal Reserve. Everyone else on the ad ops floor didn't have a clue about that. Hell, they thought I was some kind of conspiracy theorist even for suggesting the Federal Reserve wasn't a federal government organization. I even tried to show some of them the phone book where the Federal Reserve was there next to Federal Express in the business section and not in with the government pages.

This was another slow night for me as I checked my blog for comments and to count how many hits I'd received and from where they originated. I had jumped onto the blogging bandwagon several years earlier and I liked recording my thoughts. There was nothing interesting or unusual tonight so I wondered what to do that might reduce the boredom of being at work with no work to do. To satisfy my curiosity about Real Estate prices I began doing various Google searches for home and real estate prices, land and the like. When I searched building prices one of the topics read "Is Building Seven Evidence of Controlled Demolition." Being curious by nature I clicked on the link. It took me to an organization called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Initially, I thought to just click the hell out of there as it appeared to be a site that suggested the government had something to do with 9/11, which I found to be an absolutely ridiculous assertion. Still I noticed some copy stating Building 7 was called the Solomon Building and it housed the CIA among other agencies. This peaked my interest because I remembered it was the Solomon Building that fell late in the afternoon of 9/11. Nobody mentioned before about the CIA offices being located there. This information I was just now learning of and it seemed kind of important - news worthy. Then I noticed that the video was over an hour long and thought he can't watch it at work even on a slow night. The staff had already been warned about watching videos at work. So I copied the link and email it to myself.

A short distance away, Tumbleweed grabs Dave's attention speaking the worry that's been on everybody's mind. "Hey Dave. What do you think about not having any ads?" Dave responds, "Well it sure makes the nights drag by. I'd rather be busy." "Me too." Tumbleweed responds. Dave asks, "What's your condo mortgage run?" A worry look appears on Tumbleweed's face and he replies, "It just went up $200 a month." "DAMN!" Dave shouts causing people across the floor to stop and look in their direction. "Dude, what's up with that?" Dave continues but in a more hushed voice. It was no longer a good idea to talk normally because you couldn't be sure of whose nose you might throw out of joint. "Adjustable rate." Is Tumbleweed's brief reply. He didn't even bother to mention the condo fees which also just went up with the property taxes as well. Though Real Estate was not moving like in the early part of the decade, the local government was still property taxing at the full bubble list price. Tumbleweed didn't see how he was going to make it except that his mom had given up her rental and moved in with him to split the costs of the condo. She slept in the bedroom, Tumbleweed relegated to sleeping in the living room and his entire porno collection was last seen by him descending down to the bottom of the trash chute. He sighed momentarily thinking of his now trashed collection. No way was he getting laid now he reckoned. With mom living in the condo, no porno videos, his porn channel canceled and zero money for dating even if a woman were available. He didn't have the fifty bucks hanging around in his crimped budget to go to the massage parlor either. This was especially true with the credit card bill for the Romanian trip. For Tumbleweed, life was really starting to suck. Naturally his mother was concerned about him which is why she had moved in. It was more than just to help him financially. She was trying to investigate what her son was into and why he wasn't married like his two brothers were who were both younger. Now she was bent on investigate her son by questioning him everyday before he left for work. She was retired and had plenty of time to do so. Eventually she started giving her son advice based on what he was telling her. Her advice was as good as the source and Tumbleweed didn't really see things like most people. So the information he was providing his mother caused her to give him advice that was not really in his best interest. However, it had not yet come back to haunt him.

I like to cook and regularly brought in extra food to work for anyone who was hungry. The crew especially enjoyed my oatmeal persimmon cookies not the least of whom was Tumbleweed. Recently, he could not afford to buy take out for dinner and would have gone hungry except for the food that I brought in. Tumbleweed wolfed it down too. I knew Tumbleweed was hurting and also about his mom moving in. That's got to suck I thought when I learned of the situation. I got the lowdown as usual from Randy who one day called his place to see if Tumbleweed could come to work early and the phone was answer by Tumbleweed's mom. Apparently Tumbleweed was around the corner getting something for his mother at the store. Shocked to hear a female voice at Tumbleweed's condo answering the phone, Randy pumped the woman for information in that friendly way he normally addressed people. She couldn't help but spilled her guts to him though Tumbleweed had wanted to keep it quiet out of embarrassment for having his mom as a roommate. But the cat was out of the bag now. I never mentioned it as he felt sorry for the boy all kidding aside.

The night ended early again with the last few hours of the shift mostly playing on the computers by the staff.  The week was finally over and everyone was headed home for the weekend. When I awoke Saturday morning I was feeling happy to not have to drive to DC to work at least until Monday afternoon. I checked my email and among the stack was the Architect and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. I clicked onto the link then started the video. This was apparently some kind of presentation to an audience of people by a man in a three piece suit named Richard Gage. Right off the bat this was not what I was expecting. Richard Gage apparently was a well known architect who'd built many buildings, some in San Francisco - an earthquake zone. I began watching Gage give his presentation complete with slides of the 9/11 attack. However, most were things I had never seen on TV before though they seemed very credible and pertinent. This began to worry me more and more as I watched. By the time it was over, I didn't know what to do. I was angry at the ramifications of the video and at the same time terrified. If these architects were right, and it sure appeared that way to me, then this was no terrorist attack. It was treason in the highest halls of government. I felt the need to warn friends and family about this grave information that had left me stunned.

Once Monday rolled around and I was back at work I started doing what I thought was necessary. First of all, this information I had stumbled upon was not only damnable to the government, it was very credible and easy for me to comprehend. I figured this would be no problem for the editors at the paper and emailed what he knew with links to several of the editors. I sort of felt like Woodward and Bernstein helping to break this story of the century. What a moron I was at the time for being so naive. I wrote down the Architects and Engineers link and walked into my manager's office. "Can I talk to you a second Boss? I asked sitting down closing the door. "Sure. What's on your mind." I handed him the paper with the link and said. "Go here to this link, boss. These architects and engineers have undeniable proof that there was government involvement in the 9/11 attack." My manager thanked me and tried to appear genuine but for whatever reason only my boss could say for sure, nothing ever came of my attempt to warn him or anyone for that matter. My boss was only just hired in the new job and had more important things to do than investigate whether or not the government is involved in treason and mass murder. I mentioned it one more time to him that he still hadn't gotten around to checking out the link and he promised that he would surely do so. But it appeared my boss was blowing me off and the editors at the paper sure did. Their silence stunned me and felt isolated.

I sat down next to Tumbleweed sitting at his work station and said, "It looks like 9/11 was done by the government not Arabs from caves." Immediately, Tumbleweed responds, "I don't believe that Tom." I replied, "Don't believe me bro'. Check out this link put out by some architects that say the building were blown up by explosives." However, Tumbleweed again flatly responds, "I don't believe that Tom." As he finishes his words Randy is walking by and inquires, "Believe what?" Tumbleweed repeats what I had just suggested to him about the terrorist attack. "Tom believes 9/11 was done by the government, not Arab terrorists." Randy rolls his eyes a bit disgusted and asked looking towards me, "You been drinking the cool-aid? Who are you, Rosie O'Donnell?" I recalled hearing Rosie had made such assertion and I ignored them as I did not agree with many things she said or believed in general. But I responded, "Yeah, well I hear Rosie thinks the planet is round. Does that make you a flat earther?" Randy failed to see the reasoning in my statement, looked at Tumbleweed, pointed his thumb briefly towards me then drew his other hand up to his own head circling his finger round and round signaling that I was crazy. Randy walked away, Tumbleweed went back to work disturbed by my lack of patriotism and faith in the Bush administration. Eventually he would even consider reporting me to the government - just doing his part to fight terrorism especially since George Bush had stated that we should not ever accept any outrageous conspiracy theories. However once he tried to phone the terrorist hotline number that flashed across the highway as he drove home most nights, all he got was an answering machine. He didn't leave any information and hung up.

This had not gone smoothly for me. I thought I would alert my friends and coworkers about the horrible treason I'd discovered. Yet they ignored and chastised me - even Tumbleweed. One manager asked me if I would like to see a head shrinker and that the paper would pay for it. I thanked her but declined the offer.

Monday, January 06, 2014

2006 Changes In The Cards

As had been the case lately, the advertising production crew found themselves with nothing to do late in the shift. Every ad that was booked for the next month, not many at that, had been built then safely stored away in the paper's computer system ready to automatically pop onto the page when the time arrived for publication. With nothing to do but wait until quitting time the crew played more spades. Tumbleweed loved to play spades since it was some form of human interaction. Plus, Tumbleweed had that blind ass luck and drew fantastic cards that he would always underbid. It was like the universe was compensating Tumbleweed for his sorry life with lucky cards. As good as his cards usually were he still didn't know how to play his hand. Randy and Dave were more savvy players who were on opposing teams usually. This night Heather, an ad builder, rounded out the players. Randy had just finished dealing the cards so everyone was shifting them around by suit and figuring their bids. Randy and Tumbleweed were teamed up against Dave and Heather.

"Did I ever tell you about Bob on the dance floor back in the seventies? He could drop to the floor and do the splits." Randy remarks to the players then bids three. Everyone sort of shakes their head that. no they had not heard of Bob's dancing moves, though being more focused on their bids at that moment. Heather speaks up as she's sitting to Randy's left. "I'll go two." Immediately Randy goes on with his story. "Yeah old Coop' was real drunk this one night. Anyway, he did this kick straight out then dropped down into the splits which was his signature dance move. The cat was amazing - real limber though you'd never know it now. The trouble was he was so drunk he managed to kick some guy dead in his ass before dropping to the splits. The guy who'd just been kicked in the ass turned around and cold cocks the guy closest behind him, never even seeing Bob down on the floor in the splits." Everyone starts to laugh at the thought of Bob, now in his sixties, doing this. "Hey Tumbleweed. You going to bid tonight?" Randy asks looking over at Tumbleweed still shuffling his cards. In the process one of his cards drops to the table. It's the queen of spades. "Oh well dude. There goes your mellow bid." Dave says as Randy rolls his eyes at his partner. "Come on bitch. Get with the program." He complains looking disgusted at Tumbleweed who softly mutters, "I bid two." Dave who has been ready to bid and pretty much knows what cards everyone is holding once the bidding stops, starts playing his mind game. "Let me see. Randy's going to go three...probably. My partner's going two. The Tumbleweedster is going two but he's probably holding four or five tricks depending on how badly he plays them. That's nine or ten tricks. I'll bid three so we'll go five together." Randy hates being predictable and realizes Tumbleweed normally underbids. Bidding three now will make that smart ass Dave look like a mind reader so Randy bids four.

Heather begins fingering her cards deciding which she will throw down first then remembers Randy playing some jokes on Bob. "Didn't you put a sign on Bob's car?" Heather remarks and leads with the Queen of Diamonds. This causes Randy to laugh thinking about that prank. I'd heard this one before.  "Bob had just bought a brand new Miata. Nice looking little car. He was driving home after the shift - about three or four in the morning. This car began flashing it's lights and beeping their horn at Bob who tried to out run them for miles. Finally, even though he couldn't understand why these guys wanted to fight him, he figured he couldn't outrun them so he'd better confront them and try to bluff his way out. He slammed on the brakes and jumped out of his car with a tire iron and asked the guys what their problem was? They told him 'Everything is cool dude. I just want to buy your car'. Bob turned around and saw the For Sale sign I put on the back of his Miata. I had her up for sale for $1600 cash money. Of course that was about one tenth of what the car was worth." The players start to laugh again as Randy prods Tumbleweed. "You going to play a card Tumbleweed?" Tumbleweed begins fiddling with his cards not having given thought to playing as he listen to another one of Randy's stories about how it use to be at the paper in the hay days. He mumbles, "Ah." Before Tumbleweed can get his words or a card out Dave continues playing with Tumbleweed's mind. "What' a matter cat got your tongue? Which card shall I play? Not sure if you should play that King of Diamond now or later?" This causes Tumbleweed to pull his cards closer as if Dave has hit the nail on the head and gotten a peak. He plays the Three of Diamonds. Immediately Dave flips the card over that he's been holding down on the table like he knew what Tumbleweed would play. He usually did through a combination of luck and skill. Dave's card is the Two of Diamonds. Finally Randy having that worried look come over his face plays the Four of Diamonds. Heather grabs her trick then throws down the Jack of Diamonds. Tumbleweed hesitates then plays the Six followed by Dave playing the Five. Finally Randy plays the Eight of Diamonds. His look of hopelessness grows as each trick is grabbed by his opponents. Heather plays the Seven of Diamonds forcing Tumbleweed to play his last Diamond - the King. Dave starts laughing then throws down his Ace of Diamonds.  Randy throws the Seven of Diamonds. Dave is already waiting to grabs the last card of his trick. Randy begins complaining to Tumbleweed. "Damn boy. You going to take a trick tonight?" To which Dave jokes, "He's more likely to turn a trick tonight." The group minus Tumbleweed laughs as Tumbleweed tries to defend his play. "Shut up. How many tricks you taken Randy."

As fate would have it this first round would lead Randy and Tumbleweed into the deadly cross cut where Heather ran out of Heart and Dave Clubs. So first one could cut then lead to their partner who would drop a spade. When the dust cleared from that first hand Randy and Tumbleweed were sixty to the minus. "God dammit Tumbleweed. You're killing me Whitey, you're killing me!" Randy whined to his partner. Heather grabbed up the cards and started to shuffle. "I work with a guy back in the Sixties named Whitey. We faked his death to fool this real stupid guy that use to work here?" Of course I'd heard this one too but let Randy but let Randy tell the card players. Dave asks looking at Randy who still has that disgusted, annoyed look, "You killed somebody back in the sixties?" This momentarily lifts Randy's spirits as he recalls that incident and his expression changes. "That guy was so stupid, we told him that Whitey died. But the funny part was we had just gotten some big piece of equipment delivered to the loading dock. It came in a big box that looked like a coffin. So we draped some cloth over it and stuck a few flowers around that we snatched from out front and got Whitey to lay inside the fake coffin with his arms folded across his chest like this. This guy was so stupid he just stood there hovering at the fake casket saying over and over again 'Whitey's dead? I can't believe it. Whitey's dead?' It never crossed this guy's mind why anyone would hold a wake in the topography department of a newspaper." By now all the players are rolling in their chairs as Heather attempts to deal the next hand. She says, "That's a riot, Randy." But Randy continues telling the rest of the prank. "That's nothing. You should have seen the dude when Whitey sat up suddenly and moaned. The guy, Albert was his name I think - screamed like a woman and jumped back about ten feet." At this point everyone is heaving back and forth laughing except Tumbleweed who is smiling but more interested in the cards Heather has just deal him. He bids. "I'll go mellow." Dave has finished sorting out his hand and bids over his laughter, "I'll go six to set." This prods Randy to speak still grinning himself from telling his story. "Damn dude. I was going to go mellow. I guess I'll go two to protect." He folds up his cards and waits for Heather to make her bid. "I'll go five. So we'll take eleven together." The hand starts out with Tumbleweed playing the Jack of Clubs which signals to Dave that Tumbleweed is low on Clubs and wants to see if he can get it out early. Dave plays the Ten followed by Randy protecting Tumbleweed with the Queen while bugging his eyes out at his partner. Heather grabs the trick with her ace.  She is assessing her next move as Randy begins talking. "We use go to this bar over on K Street because it had some really nice woman. But the owner was a real asshole. Anyway they were having this celebration in the bar like a birthday or something. They had balloons floating all over the bar that had faces on them with ears. Anyway, like I said the bar owner was a dick. I took one of the balloons and hooked it on this guys belt when he passed by." They start to laugh and Dave sees where the balloon buddy trick originated from that Randy so often used on Tumbleweed. "To make a long story short, this guy walks back and forth throughout his bar with his balloon head buddy following him around from behind - back and forth. Of course all the customers were cracking up and the waitresses too. Finally, he's standing over by the bar looking at himself in the mirror of course and notice the ballon head behind him so he wheels around. But the balloon turns around with him out of his view. So he turns back around looking in the mirror and there's the balloon behind him again. This asshole turned around three or four more times until one time he spun around fast and came face to face with the balloon smacking his head. That's when he realized it was attached to his belt. The waitresses were laughing then this asshole starts screaming at them saying they were fired if they were the one's who did the balloon trick on him. He was ranting and raving so I finally went over and told him to relax - that I did it." Heather plays the Two of Diamonds and asks, "What did the guy do to you?" Randy replies as Tumbleweed plays the Five of Diamonds. "He didn't do shit. We used to spend a lot of money in his place."

When the last trick was played Randy had only taken one of the two tricks he needed to for his bid. But he'd been protected his partner's mellow bid assuring that he took no tricks. Dave led with the Two of Spades followed by Randy with the Queen of Spades he'd been saving to get his last trick and to protect Tumbleweed. Heather played the Jack of Spades then everyone turned to Tumbleweed awaiting his final card. But Tumbleweed had that weak worried look on his face causing his partner to remember he had not yet seen the King of Spades played. Slowly Tumbleweed laid down the King taking the last trick. Randy cried out, DAMMIT FOOL! You went mellow with the King of Spades?"  Tumbleweed defending his actions replied, "I only had two Spades - the Three and the King. I had nothing higher than a Jack otherwise. Besides, without my trick you wouldn't have made your two bid. Heather comments laughing, "Ah yes. Another crazy night in Odd Aps." Reversing the name of the Advertising Operations department to make her pun. Dave replies, "Yes it is Heather. Yes it it."

At this point in the game Randy and Tumbleweed were better than a hundred points in the hole and it would get worst. By the time Dave and Heather passed five hundred points their unlucky opponents still hadn't crossed zero. All the managers were gone leaving Randy in charge. There was still thirty minutes in the shift but Randy had no hope of victory tonight with the cards game so he gave everyone a slide. The crew dashed for the exits as usual before he could change his mind. It was the time in the evening when the staff of mostly over weight diabetics could really move the fastest. Every night began to be just like this night. Our work was done by 9 in the evening and there was nothing to do but play more spades. Classified had been getting whacked by the Internet and was tiny now compared to the old days. But this didn't effect me for the most part because I wasn't involved in classified ad production. However at this point I was proofreading once again. What I did notice was the Real Estate market freezing up. The same properties remained for sale for a long time. Then the prices began dropping but the places still didn't sell. The longer this went on the more it prices dropped but only for Real Estate. Everything else, especially gasoline, was soaring in price. Randy and the ad ops right wing staff of dupes claimed the high gas prices were because liberals had blocked drilling for oil in the ocean. The Liberal ad ops staff comprising the vast political majority on the floor said the oil companies weren't paying enough taxes and that wind power would solve the problem. As for me I knew the Federal Reserve Board was where the cause for high gas prices lay. The more money pumped into the economy the higher prices rose. Now gas was around four bucks a gallon. I drove a gas efficient Toyota so my gas bill rose to around $35 per week - still affordable for me. However, most folks in ad op be they left or right hadn't seen the huge gas price increases coming so they drove big SUV's or pickup trucks generally. They were getting hammered for over a hundred bucks a fill up. I knew this could not go on forever or an inflationary spiral would ensue dropping the fiat Federal Reserve Note to zero in value. Before that happened I expected the Fed banksters to stop the flow of dollars with higher interest rates and/or regulations. The question was when would they pull the plug on the money supply?

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Crystal Buys A Condo

The boys in the pagination department hadn't been at work too long and were busy working their sections. Being a Thursday night they would need to close all of the Real Estate sections that would publish in two days on Saturday morning. It always was a hellish night and this night would be no different. Tumbleweed had already noticed two full page ads running in the same section that were in the edition meant for only the Northern Virginia zone. He couldn't understand why anyone would waste money like that and asked. When it was all said and done even the head of advertising herself, a no nonsense, all business Asian lady that didn't normally chat personally or fraternize with non managerial underlings came by to that him. She used managers when she needed to get a point across to the staff. She came over to Tumbleweed's desk to thank him on this catch. Only one version of the full page ad was supposed to publish in that section and another full page ad from an entirely different advertiser was supposed to go where the duplicate ad was incorrectly running. Tumbleweed saved the paper over a hundred grand and this was perhaps - his finest moment in  publishing history. From there, fresh off his Romanian debacle, things like his life and coincidently the Real Estate market, would all begin tipping south. But all of this wasn't apparent at that moment. Tumbleweed made the catch of the year in advertising and the Real Estate market could only go up. That's what everybody thought during those boom times.

Tumbleweed was still aglow from advertising department top manager, Kuny thanking him personally. Interrupting his thoughts Crystal passes by walking in low keyed manner then slaps her things down on her desk not far from the boys in paginating. She logs on then looks around. Her manager had already just warned her about being late and she'd gotten stuck in traffic the next day plus her eyeglasses were damaged. The poor girl was damn near blind without her glasses and normally the brass would be cool about such things. But recently, everybody had noticed a change in how everybody was being managed. The worker's paradise was becoming less Eden and more like hell. The practical joking had slowed to crawl. Mostly, jokes were reserved for employees as they left work like when Carl rolled out of the employee parking garage with the string of large paper binders and clips tinkling behind his SUV while Chris and Dave stood nearby laughing. Still, the work environment seemed more serious. The management had really been giving Randy a hard time with one manager absolutely having it out for him. He was close to being fired. Whatever actually happened, as Randy was never saying, he was suspended for a week and allow to take vacation for the following week.

So Crystal didn't want trouble and was glad she apparently made it in unnoticed. After a few minutes she rushed over to the pagination area obviously excited. At my desk she stoop low to be less obvious and says, "I'm buying a condo!" This is not what I needed to hear from Crystal who is in her late twenties and just getting started financially. "Ah, ya may want to wait and not do that right now." I warned with the serious looks coming over my face. But Crystal pays no mind my concern and begins describing her new condo and the amenities. I hear her but my mind is elsewhere and can only think about the Real Estate sections I've been closing every week and how the prices have exploded since 9/11. I understood that the markets go up and the market go back down again. I also, unlike most people in early 2004, had a good understanding of the Federal Reserve System and fiat money. The last thing a person needed to do was buy over priced Real Estate at the peak of the boom, lock in the bubble price with a mortgage then watch as the price of the property drop but not the monthly payments. "All I'm saying dear is it might be better to just wait a couple years then buy the condo." Try as I might to convince Crystal to hold off buying the condo in Alexandria she had her mind made up. She never heard my concerns about the economy.

But unknown to the two of us Vera, a frumpy middle-aged woman was following our conversation. She also followed the conventional thinking at all times, doing the appropriate thing according to the experts on all occasions. She eves dropped on our conversation and her anger built steadily. She couldn't contain herself any longer. "Tom you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Real Estate is a great investment for a young person like Crystal and you are older and should not influence her to do the wrong thing." I started to pipe up then thought the better of it. I still remembered the Liz incident where she repeatedly told me to shut up while I was speaking with another worker whom Liz, a spinster looking older woman, had a school girl crush on. Annoyed, I finally turned to Beth and replied, "No, I'm not going to shut up." Beth jumped up and shouted, "Do you want me to go home then?" I failed to see what that had to do with anything and responded, "What do I care? You aren't doing any work." She then stormed out and I forgot all about it. When I returned to work the following Monday I spent the afternoon explaining my "violent" confrontation that Liz swore I had had with her causing her to leave. Once the investigating was completed and all the parties on the floor were put through the Inquisition by Manager, Tom, establish both parties at fault and wrote up Liz and I. I was of course charged with "instigating a conversation" which led to Liz getting her nose out of joint and fleeing work which she didn't need a reason as she begged off all the time. Usually it was her allergies she complained of but always fired up a smoke the second she left the building.

So by then I knew better when being scolded by a woman at the paper. A man had to just shut up and take it or perhaps excuse themselves and walk away politely with eyes cast downward in shame. I looked at Crystal and we both realized Vera's little indignant tirade may cause attention that is unwanted by either of us and Crystal says as she gets up to walk back to her work station, "I already bought the condo. I signed the papers today. I'll talk to you later about it." She slipped away from Dave's desk. Vera had gone back to minding her own business but the incident reminded me I had to speak in hushed tones now. Everything had become so serious. Naturally, there were always Sarah type people around the paper. However, most were relaxed fun people who enjoyed a laugh. That's why when Carol, a tall woman with a viking figure, came by eating a pear for her daily visit with the boys in pagination, Dave didn't hesitate to say "Nice pear." Then after a second had passed he continued. "Good looking fruit too." Carol open her mouth wide pretending to be shocked while everybody began to giggle. Keith, Dave's supervisor at the time warned, "DAVE! Seventh floor, dude. Seventh floor." This was the floor where personnel was located though they had relocated recently. It's where one would be sent for major inquisitions.  Up till then everything was handled by the managers on the floor and personnel never got into the middle. Ronnie liked handling things in house as with the Liz and me dust-up.

Liz did managed to at least try to get her 30 pound of flesh against me several months later. She was a highly intelligent woman with an IQ off the charts. On the opposite side of the coin, she was emotionally retarded. Liz never saw anything except from her perspective. It obviously irritated her that I had not been fired by the paper and instead she and I both were written up - the transgressions placed into our "permanent records!" So Liz devised a plan, naturally seen from only her childish perspective, where she would claim she witness me and Randy having a heated argument and that it made her feel "uncomfortable." Being made to feel uncomfortable was a hanging offense at the paper especially if it entailed a man supposedly making a woman feel uncomfortable. From Liz's perspective it would not matter that me and Randy never had any heated arguments. This ruse would be what Liz needed to get her foot in the door of personnel so she could broach the subject of the earlier incident. Once she finished telling her story about the fight between Randy and I she remarked to the woman in personnel Glenda, that "Oh by the way there was this other incident that happened blah blah blah - this Tom character is a real violent nut ready to go off." Liz had made her complaint late on a Friday afternoon. The following Monday Randy started his two week vacation and wouldn't be available for the inquisition. Liz took off that Monday hoping by Tuesday I would be fired.

The moment I set my things down I heard the phone ring. I noticed Glenda's name on the caller ID. I thought 'That can't be good' then grab the phone. "Hello Glenda. How are you doing?" Glenda responded pleasantly as she always did. "Fine, fine Tom. Could you come up to my office now for a few minutes? I'd like to talk with you." I agreed and set the phone down. As I made my way towards Personnel I wondered if this talk would have anything to do with the Liz incident from several months earlier. "Nah." I assured himself getting into the elevator. However, Glenda described very quickly this alleged violent argument I had with Randy which made me laugh. "It never happened Glenda." I knew the earlier incident would make no difference now since Liz had just shot all her credibility to hell with this phony story. When Glenda mentioned the earlier incident I defended myself saying this was just another made up claim. I explained how I was written up for instigating a conversation which I knew wasn't any sort of crime at the paper in the first place. It was just a conviction to appease Liz which it obviously hadn't done. "I think they were trying to show Liz they were somehow being fair even though I never did anything to her."  I explained. Liz was written up for leaving her shift early which was a crime at the paper, which to be truthful everyone was guilty of from time to time. Probably Glenda as well. Knowing the Daily sections had to be closed while I was in the talk with Glenda and that Ronnie would be raising hell about my whereabouts and why weren't my sections closed - I kicked back with Glenda and allow my gift of gab to settle in for the long haul. Before what turned into a three hour talk, I discussed kids and family, boating and the Chesapeake Bay, general scuttle butt about the paper, whatever I could think up to extend the conversation and milk it dry. When I finally left Glenda's office and returned to the advertising production floor I made a B-line for Ronnie's office. Walking into his doorway Ronnie looked up a yelled, "Where the hell you been?" I quickly replied, "Sorry boss. I've just been with Personnel for the last three hours discussing the fight at work that Liz complained Randy and me had two Friday nights ago." Ronnie voice got louder. "WHAT? You and Randy didn't have a fight two Friday nights ago! I was here the entire night. It never happened!" I nodding my agreement, "I didn't remember fighting with Randy either, boss." Then held up the paper Glenda had given me about the incident. Ronnie snatched the paper from my hand and said very business like, "I'll handle this. Get to work."

Handle it he did and I never again had a problem with Liz. In fact the manager who wrote up Dave for the conversation instigation eventually confided to me that the incident happened because Liz was a bit nutty. I never spoke another word to Liz even when at times I was forced to sit directly across from her. Dave believed her to be unstable as well so it would be safer avoiding conversations with her. Even Glinda suggested not speaking with her which Dave and I both found an easy task.

As a result of the drama with Liz, I knew not to press his luck. Bob had warned me about the harassment policy at the paper. It was a lose lose situation if you were a man, especially a white man. You were guilty until proven innocent and I had already been through it enough in my life. The process was tilted unjustly and I had been fortunate Ronnie cleared me. Vera was more politically savvy than Liz but not as brainy. She was very adept working the emotional side of the coin. I definitely had no interest in crossing her which is why I clammed up when Vera had interrupted my earlier conversation with Crystal to scold me. Everybody got back to work. I wasn't happy Vera had dressed me down and time would come to prove her absolutely wrong about what I was trying to warn Crystal about.

I had a few minutes later on that evening and walked over to Crystal's desk touching her shoulder. She whirled around then pulled off her head-set. "Hey. I'm so excited about my condo." I smiled and said, "Well I hope everything works out with it. When do you move in?" She replies, "Next month I go to settlement. It's a done deal, dude!" I try to smile and listen to Crystal describing all the amenities like garage parking and being close to downtown Washington. I heard her talking but I was wondering how this Real Estate deal would end up for Crystal especially since she paid almost a quarter million for the condo on an adjustable rate loan. It was the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century and the economy was rolling along. Maybe I could be wrong. However, seeing prices on everything soaring I knew things would have to go bust sometime in the near future.