Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jose for the Holidays

I mentioned in my last post that I got kicked out of school because I forgot to study for a few classes. You see, just like Rick in Casablanca, I was misinformed. Turns out that the College of Engineering had nothing to do with driving trains. Neither did the College of Commerce and Business Administration, but I didn’t have to pass Theoretical and Applied Mechanics to graduate. Besides, you can’t imagine the babes in my Econ classes. So armed with an amusing GPA and an Econ degree I hit the job market. I found out that qualified me for assistant manager positions at either Radio Shack or Payless Shoes. I decided to hold out for a position in investment banking, but was running out of beer money so took one of those “in-between” jobs. Yep, my first job out of college was at the prestigious multi-national corporation called Red Lobster. I folded up my diploma, stuck it in my back pocket, carefully positioned my “Lobsterfest is Lobsterbest!” button over my left breast pocket and took my place behind the bar. I learned the nuances of making Lobster Punch and how to slice 20 limes without drawing blood. This experience proved even more valuable than my degree as I was soon being recruited by competitors at the nearby mall, and after intense negotiations that included a free basket of chips and salsa I accepted a position at Carlos Sweeney’s. There I learned not only how to make a killer margarita, but also some deceptively powerful sangria, and how to swear in Spanish.

Sure it was fun, but after six months my liver started to hurt and the girl I was dating convinced me that a suburban mall bartender position might not be the best place to reach my potential. So I quit and moved to the city. No more suburban mall bars for me. Instead I scored a position working the door at Pippin’s Tavern on Rush Street. My responsibility was to card everyone that showed up and keep minors and bums out while an imposing, yet likely illiterate, goon stood behind me and enforced my decisions. Those gaining entry were treated to the Cheers-like hospitiality, cold beer, killer jukebox, and free popcorn. I believe closing time was around 2 a.m. back then, but a sister bar named Streeter’s around the corner stayed open until 5 a.m. where my girlfriend was busy realizing her full potential. By sister bar, I mean it had the same ownership, not that the clientele was exclusively black women. Which is a good thing since another responsibility of the Pippin’s doorman was to walk one of the old, white regulars who was blind over to Streeter’s after last call. I’m not sure how he got home from Streeter’s but he couldn’t have been much worse off than the other customers still in the bar at 5 a.m. But I digress.

Our favorite bartender in those days was a guy named Jose who used his tip money to pay his tuition. Good to know my drinking provided some benefit to this world. About a year after I quit I was in the area and saw Jose walking down the street with his standard backpack. He was approached by one of the bums I had been tasked with keeping out of the bar in the old days. But instead of ignoring him like most of the passing crowd, he stopped. And instead of just giving him some pocket change or a dollar like one might expect, he took the man into the neighboring Dunkin’ Donuts and bought him a cup of coffee. He even went a step further and sat down with the man at a table and talked with him. I have no idea what they discussed that day. Maybe it was the stock market, maybe it was time travel. I don’t even know if the man fully appreciated the gesture. Nonetheless, Jose’s actions that day made an impression on me, although I can’t claim to be nearly as compassionate. But I am taller than he is.

What sparked this memory was when another reader recently asked me about a novel called Magnificent Obsession that I apparently referred to a while back in this blog. It was written back in 1929 (the book, not the blog), and I was reminded that it’s rather dated (still talking about the book). It’s not a classic in the literary sense, but known more for the content which promotes philanthropy not just for the good of others but also as a means to achieving personal success and achievement. The only catch, according to the book, is that no one else is to know of your good deed if you wish to capture the full reward of your act. To some it may bring up the question of what motivates altruistic behavior. To others it may bring up the question of what’s for dinner. There’s more to the book, but it’s been years since I’ve read it. It’s been years since I’ve read anything since discovering online porn. The book has its own cadre of fanatics that I’m sure I’ve offended with my half-assed description, but with a little research you can track them down if interested.

If the concept has you at all intrigued, try it. Do a good deed for somebody, but don’t tell anyone else about it. Nobody. Keep it to yourself. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but I have a feeling that Jose could do it.

32 comments:

213 said...

So I guess we shouldn't talk about Good Samaritan Friday.

BTW - See me.

-Will J.

Sid F'er said...

The first rule of Good Samaritan Friday!

213 said...

I thought the first (and only) rule was to either go to a new bar or go to Avalanche or do a good deed.

L A Ray said...

ah yes GSF, but don't confuse it with NBT. (New Bar Tuesday) Lately I've been more into HNT. (Half Nekkid Thursday) BTW - Happy HNT!

L A Ray said...

http://osbasso.blogspot.com/2005/05/guidelines-for-half-nekkid-thursday.html

213 said...

Speaking of Tuesday,

The Lone Ranger and Tonto were riding along...

Moist Rub said...

I agree with Mag Obs. As soon as you tell somebody about your good deed, it is transformed from altruistic to selfish, because then you become susceptible to praise as a reward for your good deed.

I've done good deeds in the past without telling anybody. Usually it was because I was drunk and forgot about it. But that one time when I gave that hurricane victim one of my kidneys to save his life, and I wasn't drunk, and I never told anybody about it, it really made me feel good inside, because I did it for its own sake.

Fuck, I guess I blew it now. Forget I said anything.

Sid F'er said...

But if you don't tell anybody strictly for the reason that it makes you feel better inside or because you expect greater reward (per Mag Obs), doesn't that also preclude pure altruistic motives?

As a reader suggested in email to me, is it possible for true altruism to exist or will it always be tainted by some underlying motive?

I'm not the psych or philosophy guy here, so that's why I tossed the topic out there.

keysunset said...

is it not possible to both tell of kindnesses as well as keeping them secret? Telling someone of a good deed, may inspire them to do the same. An empowerment. There are things in my life, that will remain untold for now, that I would not have done without the encouragement and example of others.

keysunset said...

Oh, and only ONE piece of flair at Red Lobster, Sid?! tsk tsk

keysunset said...

Thanks l a ray for the HNT link. I went from there to the source they mention, Blue Sloth. At Blue Sloth there was a link to John Lennon's "Imagine," instrumental performed by Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler. (I grew up listening to my dad play lots of Chet Atkins songs on both the record player and on the guitar. And of course, MK is from Dire Straits and has played several collaborations with Chet.)

Actually, maybe I shouldn't thank you as I don't want you to feel too good about this ... just kidding.

Anonymous said...

Sid ... Is this the Magnificent Obsession that resulted in the famous movie with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman? The 50s cars, sets, and clothes are fantabulous -- And Rock becomes a totally skilled brain surgeon in like half an hour and thus saves Jane from total blindness. A blindness I believe he himself created by running her over in one of his unbelievabley beautiful American cars.

Tomorrow I'll look up what Master Shake says to either MeatWad or Frylock (AquaTeens) when he's attempting to turn himself into The (altruistic but attention grabbling) Drizzle ... "No one must know of my secret identity ... " It's apt and, if not, I will make it so ...

At the risk of being ridiculous (oh what the hell) I'd venture to say that you and Moist pay it forward with interest. You bring happiness and merriment to those of us checking in on a regular basis and you manage to do with without getting all snotty, stupid, and diva-like about it ... Merry Merry and Happy Happy

Smoothmagne said...

I think the whole unselfish act thing was covered in an episode of Friends...with phoebe and Joey i think...

What about this scenario? You do a good deed and you tell of it, BUT you leave your name out of it. Tell it in the third person. Then you don't get the direct praise and you get it off your chest. I suppose your still getting some sick selfish enjoyment out of it though...

keysunset said...

Why not get enjoyment out of doing a good thing for someone else? I would think it would be positive reinforcement to continue. I think it's the "look at me, look at me" part that we're trying to critique.

I agree Moist and Sid pay it forward with interest.

Sid F'er said...

Yes, that's the movie. Great synopsis. I've never seen it, but hear it's pretty bad. So bad it's good and back to bad.
Similar to the Pay It Forward concept.

Man, I've been trying to watch ATHF but haven't been able to find it and/or remember to tune in. I see it's on DVD, so maybe I'll have to splurge.

Thanks for the comment, but don't misoverestimate us. I just do it for the public adoration.

Sid F'er said...

Critique anything you want.

My intrigue is two-fold.

First the motivation. Do you do good deeds truly to help someone in need, or just because you know it makes you feel good. Probably somewhere in between. Is it still good if the motive is pure selfishness or does it diminish the good deed? Are you just buying personal PR? Is it even possible to achieve pure altruism?

Second, the secret part. It relates to the first and may relate to the motivation. Why is it so hard to keep it secret? As it relates to Mag Obs, can there be greater personal reward if one does keep it secret? And if you really want to complicate it, if you keep it secret just because you expect greater personal reward, then how altruistic is that?

Smoothmagne said...

Thats the thing, isn't it? Motivation...why are you doing it?

But some would say the ends justify the means...so what does it matter where motives lay as long as good is gotten from it.

maybe by telling of a good deed it becomes real to the person. Like if no one else knows of it then did it really happen.

If a tree falls on britney spears in a forest and no one sees it...

213 said...

... it depends on what your definition of "is" is.

keysunset said...

ah, you and Moist are so humble, Sid.

just passin' thru ...

bibi said...

LOVE "if a tree falls on britney spears and no one hears it." Funny stuff.

Master Shake (ATHF) on the topic of being the altruistic but disastrous The Drizzle:

"We MUST keep my secret identity a secret. And THAT'S what sucks about a secret identity. I will NEVER get the credit that I deserve for the attention grabbing things that I do!" (ATHF -- Volume 1 -- Super Hero)

Magnificent Obsession, the movie, is great for the visuals. The beauty of top of the line American automobiles back in the day ... Holy Hell. Poor Rock has to pretend (as in act)to be madly in love with Jane ... It's a classic ... Her clothes are out of this world -- and people smoke and drink cocktails.

Red Lobster, Mall bars ... Some of us await Your Great American Novel.

I gather The Lovehammers are either playing now at the Aragon as I type this or are getting ready to.

Mag Ob indeed!

Sid F'er said...

You saying that mall bars and Rod Lobster ain't exactly F. Scott Fitzgerald material, old sport?

bibi said...

Au contraire, Daisy ... I'm saying that my favorite part of that book is the sad business of the woman married to the mechanic or gas station attendant who hooks up with Daisy's hubby and ends up getting run over by Daisy herself after too many martinis ... (Pay it backwards with attitude and then forever ...) Red Lobster and Mall bars are not to be scorned. That book just don't work without RL and MB ... God knows I'm not a picky dame either -- I like some good strip mall adventure.

Cars and running over folks and being blind seem major this cycle --
I suspect this is in fact the Captain Break-It piece I've been asking for after all!

My world is spinning round and I'm lost again lost again ... Maybe Marty is the Great American Novel(ty) ... He's my Daisy for sure ...

keysunset said...

This is a little off topic, sort of an intermission, but since bibi mentioned mmmmMarty, hey MOIST are you going to write us up the Aragon concert?! Pretty please. Please oh please.

And now, we return to our feature presentation ...

Sid F'er said...

This is a little off topic, but since key mentioned aragon, what's everybody's favorite inert gas?

nevermind... i was thinking of argon.

keysunset said...

... which made me think of a "nerdy Marty" photo (from RS:INXS I guess. He's in the "rehearsal room" wearing what look like reading glasses and singing into the microphone while holding sheet music.) It got posted at mc.org in several threads with a continuing discussion among some (ok, I was one of them) along the lines of why didn't any of our high school teachers look like that! "Please Professor Casey, would you sing the periodic chart again?" Tom Lehrer sang "The Elements", but I think I'd rather hear mmmmmMarty do it "one more time" ...

keysunset said...

now I've truly messed up the intellectual discussion here. Somebody get us back on [i]Mag Obs[/i]!

fabiansparkle said...

Hey does it count if you didn't put snot in the drinks if you worked at Orange Julius?

Oh well...maybe I should have kept that one to myself.

bibi said...

My favorite inert gas is JD F. Except when he's hosting birthday parties -- .

I was in love love love with Timothy Dalton all through the 70s and 80s. If Marty Casey doesn't get here soon, I may not make it. And I like Billy S. Billy S. is like George or Ringo -- not instruments people, don't beat me -- Billy is WORTHY but neglected because of the whole hot thing ... I like Billy -- he's hot enough for me.

The whole hot thing is good, no? Break it.

Sid F'er said...

Timothy Dalton? I was going to say that is pretty random, but I just did a whole post on Crystal. I thought I recognized the name as a 007, but had to IMDB him to verify who he was.

I can go with the Billy/George comparison, but have to give him more credit than Ringo.

L A Ray said...

Beside one of the drummers in King Raz Pin and The Enforcers, Ringo is the most underrated drummer in history.

Sid F'er said...

Yes, his interpretation of Wipeout is legendary.

jen said...

Hey I came across your blog because I googled Carlos sweeneys. My manager will not stop talking about this Carlos Sweeneys. And he swore he would quit mentioning it if I found him one around here!! So I took the challenge and.... unfortunately I must go to work everyday only to hear the storys of the famous delicious food! help me, do you know where a Carlos Sweeneys is located?!?!?