Monday, November 25, 2019

Ellin Duh-generous. (A Tale of Craven Capitalism )



“They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks, I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.” - Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Hello Blogiteers!

Today’s theme is all about ethics, or should I dare suggest, the lack of them in modern society as of late. For those few of you who may be tardy to my latest literary party, the word ethics is defined as such: “The discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation, a set of moral principles, a theory or system of moral values”. On the surface, this seems like it would be a rather easy concept for most to grasp, if not put forth into daily practice, but sadly, you’d be somewhat mistaken to keep the faith that this is so. All one has to do these days to see my avowal proven in real time, is to either go online, or watch the daily news for five minutes- that is, if you can do so without kicking in your TV screen first.

I’ve touched upon this concern over the last couple of months, mainly due to the fact I still find myself currently enmired within what should have been an open and shut case in regards to a valid workman’s comp claim I filed against my former employer, that being one Engelsen Molding, and to a lesser but far more annoying degree, it’s insurance carrier, a legalized Ponzi-scheme that slithers unfettered among the unsuspecting public under the name of The Hartford.

But before I get into all that, let’s have a history lesson regarding the city my former employer hails from in Michigan, known as Wixom. The beginning of the City of Wixom dates back to 1831, and according to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.36 square miles, of which 9.15 square miles is land, and 0.21 square miles is water. Originally named Sibley's Corners after the first settler, a philanthropist by the name of Alonzo Sibley, it’s true founding started in 1871 when resident Willard Clark Wixom granted the right of passage for a railroad concern, in 1883. The addition of the railroad’s prosperity attracted a score of business capital, which in due course, helped turn this hamlet into one of Michigan's largest grain produce handling points, leading to the changing of the towns name from Sibley's Corners to Wixom.

Tragically, Willard was struck and killed by a train while crossing it’s tracks in his horse and buggy, on the evening of December 24th, 1901. This just goes to prove that progress is not only always marching forward, it also really has no moral quandary about taking you out if you’re in its way, On a side note, his death does raise a question, that being this- how in the Hell does anyone ever get killed by a train? It literally stays on one path, from which it cannot diverge, maintains a constant speed, and you can both see and hear it from a mile away. Christ, Helen Keller could have dodged this inglorious end, while being a passenger in a car driven by Stevie Wonder, as Ray Charles navigates.

Just saying.

The only noteworthy thing about this city I’ve discovered via the ol’ Google, is that on November 13, 1996, Gerald Atkins "shot his way" (according to eyewitness reports) into the Ford Wixom Assembly Plant with a CAR-15 semi-automatic rifle, eventually killing a plant manager in a hallway, and wounding three co-workers. After successfully absconding from the location, and temporarily evading capture by hiding in various storm tunnels, Atkins eventually turned himself into the arms of the waiting police. Atkins received a sentence of life in prison without the option of parole after a jury rejected his plea of insanity. This judgement is not too shocking, considering most of us have wondered aloud, if not online, what it would be like if we could launch some of our colleagues via trebuchet either into the Sun, or for those of us on a restrictive budget, into the maw of an active volcano.

As of February 2019, Wixom currently ranks *120th “safest city” when placed up against 211 other Michigan cities, but when leveraged against **national averages, it seems like it might have bigger problems then what’s been noted. For instance, its violent crime rate is 32.7, while the US average is 22.7, and property crime is 40.0, whereas the US average is 35.4. Hardly a sterling reputation to laud abroad, if I may be so bold.
*[https://www.safewise.com/blog/safest-cities-michigan/]
**[https://www.bestplaces.net/crime/zip-code/michigan/wixom/48393]

But overall, it presents as no worse or better than any other rural community transitioning into a mini-metropolis. Growing pains and all that. Essentially, Wixom is the type of nowhere city you drive through on the way to a far more interesting place. When I was employed working for one of it’s prodigal companies, that being Engelsen Molding established in 1954, I was regaled with tales of it’s founder, whom my former supervisor Barry always referred to as “the old man”, hereafter referred to within this narrative as “TOM”. I’m sure he had an actual Christian name at one point, but I don’t believe I ever heard it, much to my current amusement. However, Barry was just as fond of telling me how “TOM” was a rare throwback to that particularly specific 1950’s model of mid-west shrewdness, a hard work ethic, and was in his words, “tough, but fair”.

In other words, if you did your job, he’d have your back, an attitude that in my private experience, was sadly not passed on to at least one of his children who took over the reins of the company when he died. And while I have heard several nebulous rumors, I never had any interaction of note with the son, therefore I won’t make a definitive assessment of his character here. I say this not just for legalities, but for the fact it’d be exceedingly disingenuous, if not downright inaccurate. But when it comes to Ellin, the daughter? Well, let me just state my acidly harsh personal opinion rather clearly that I wouldn’t (in the words of my late Opa) trust her with my wine, my wallet, my watch, or my waffle fries.

Especially my waffle-fries.

Don’t get me wrong, like most people I’ve had the misfortune of serving within an intolerable fiefdom commanded by a cabal of incompetent and madly self-absorbed kings and queens, but JFC, I’ve never dealt with a company quite like this, and I used to work in retail, also known as that particular unnamed ring of Dante’s Inferno where your personal dreams go to not only die, but desiccate under the blazing Ego of middle management. By the by, Ellin may also be the first boss I’ve ever worked for whose employees openly mocked her at work (behind her back of course) with a vigor that would make Richard Simmons blush.

Delivery drivers, sales reps, sellers of home-made burritos, the Circle-K clerk who would sell me my morning Mountain Dews, even the homeless guy who claimed that he was Elvis and could read minds, all got to hear what an annoying and wholly micro-managing burden cow she was.

Sorry… that should have read alleged micro-managing burden cow. My sincerest apologies.

I once had to run the warehouse for a week when Barry was away, a job I could have normally done in my sleep, and she somehow accomplished the task of making me so stressed out, that I’d just come home after a hard day’s work and go straight to bed, at 5:30 in the evening. And I’m an arguably actual vampire. Two AM is usually when I go to bed, even if I’ve had a full day dancing naked at the Walmart. Case in point- I had closed down the warehouse and been off work for 25 minutes, heading out on an overpacked Phoenix freeway, when Mistress Micro-harangue called me and wanted to talk about that day’s labor, because if there’s a great time for me to have my unpaid for attention diverted regarding the trivial, it’s when I’m driving home from my brain-dead, low-paying, no respect given, thankless job during the goddamn rush hour.

Oblivious doesn’t even begin to cover it, but that’s only because the German words “ficken nicht bewusst” is too hard for most Americans to say properly. Trust me on this. Keep in mind that my first supervisor answered so many of her pointless calls in a day, I was always truly and frankly, gob-smacked that he ever got anything done within an average 8-hour shift. And when it came to his replacement Toni, she spent whatever time she wasn’t responding to the same said asinine calls, composing an Email to Ellin so caustic it could have stripped the chrome off a trailer hitch and made Sarah Silverman chide her for using excessively foul language. Ah, the joys of being an unwillingly conscripted peasant in the kingdom of the minutae-mangling Queen.

As an aside, before having no choice but to land this craptastic job, I worked in the art framing industry for close to 25 years, before getting cast aside, due to my age and asking price. I managed shops and scores of employees, and was responsible for the design and fabrication of some amazing if not outright cool, pieces. I’ve literally worked the basement to the penthouse, and knew the trade better than the plotlines of all the Resident Evil movies.

And yes, they are all different, even if you remove the commonality of the zombie theme, due to the fact that the next screen writer in line just flat out ignores both the previous movie, and any thought of trying to keep a sensible continuity in mind when drafting the final script. Just look at the story arc of the last three movies, and what I’m saying will all make sense, even if the last two movies do not. The point I’m eventually coming around to is that I know my stuff, and I know what quality is and in the case of Engelsen, what it was not. And for once, I’m not throwing my focused shade at how upper management ran things, but at the quality of specific product lines, or to be more accurate, the dearth of such in relation to said goods.

As is fairly common among the industrial sector these days, the ramped-up overseas production of low-quality goods has hit my former trade like a ton of bricks. Raw molding stock comprised either of extruded plastic, reworked scrap remnants, and the horror shit-show that is known as *MDF, have flooded the market, very much in the manner of a plague who’s end goal is seemingly to aid in the extinction of a high-end quality product.
*[Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product traditionally made by the combining of hardwood and softwood fibers with wax, using resin as a binder, which is then formed using high temperature and pressure into panels. Denser than plywood, it is stronger than particle board, but is still just as ugly, and due to chemical off-gassing, is not something I’d truly recommend to frame your original Picasso in.]

So naturally of course, the person who won’t step up to the theoretical plate to honor their inherent commitment to their employees, buys and sells a variety of this back-alley flea-market flotsam. When we used to pull the warehouse orders for these s**tsticks, grimacing all the way, a great deal of our time was spent and wasted, going through hundreds of linear feet in order to find the merest of useable stock to send out to our client base. They in turn a quarter of the time, would send it right back, as the quality of their purchases in no way, shape or form, came even remotely anywhere close to what the alleged sample on their walls promised. Defects included, but were not limited to, visible finger joints, mars in the finish, and due to the varied differences in humidity during shipping and the quality of production materials used, a rate of warpage occurred that I haven’t seen since the day I inadvertently mixed up my “special brownies” with my Oma’s.

My secret by the way, is butter and a truckload of brown sugar. You’re welcome.

All of these contributed to a series of low-cost product lines that in my professional opinion, was not fit to frame black velvet paintings of clowns, much less serve the higher end patrons our customer base was hoping to sell to. Rest assured, you have no perception of what the concept of twisted truly can become until you’ve seen a three-inch-thick cross-section of low-end molding that looks like Fusilli pasta.

Seriously. Raw molding stock isn’t supposed to resemble this sort of thing one iota, unless it’s being sold through a shady Fast Frame franchise, solely owned and operated by Dr. Seuss. If this garbage ever dared to come through the doors of any shop I ran, I’d strap the sales rep who tried to foist it upon me to the boxes containing it, and have myself a BBQ, ala Donner party style, as a warning to those who in the future, might want to send me a catalogue hawking this detritus. And that boys and girls, is how you successfully do middle management, let me tell you. It’s all about providing the proper motivation in the end. But here’s what I find interesting. While it’s not my place as an employee to judge what a company sells, I’d at least suggest carrying goods that aren’t made by the same company that in its downtime, produces knock-off Pet Rocks.

That’s obviously a joke of course, but what isn’t, is how the aforementioned “TOM” would have allegedly viewed these defective additions to his realm. According to one of my former co-workers who worked under “TOM” for quite some time, he would have been allegedly appalled at seeing his good name being associated with such a flawed product. So why was the decision made to carry such substandard stock on the back of a long-established professional reputation? My educated guess would factor on three different aspects: corporate profit, a reserve of personal shortsightedness, and a stunning lack of reverential concern given to the effort invested into what somebody else built and then handed over to the next lucky enough to be waiting in line recipient.

Essentially, the strategy rests on the financial notion of buy low, sell high, a staple of American capitalism. Which incidentally, is also how I endeavored to market my artistic toil back in the day, when my hands still worked. For instance, if a ten-foot stick of molding costs let’s say, fifteen dollars wholesale, odds are it will be priced at 15 dollars per foot when it hits the design floor, so as you can see, the footprint of the profit margin is quite an expansive one. Using that logic, if a box of imperfection only costs you pennies on the dollar, and you can move a small portion of it for five to ten times its original value, does it really matter if the remainder is fit only to be used as kindling? In other words, this just validly cements my personal cynicism that if one is willing to compromise by selling way short the values they were ostensibly raised with, it’s really not too shocking that they view their employees as disposable cogs, to be exploited in the pursuit of covetous profit.

But even surrounded by products and people that I myself would take great pride in never using or promoting, I’d like to just say for the record yet again, that my workplace interaction wasn’t all bad, as I’ve noted in earlier screeds. When it was just Barry, my awesome co-worker Bernie and I, we generally ran like a fine Swiss watch, no matter what amount of long-distance inanity from Michigan we had to put up with. For as Mark Twain once said: “Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer", and truer words were never spoken in regards to any former employer of mine as much as her.

One of the unintentionally funny tidbits that presented itself as of late, was a letter I received from the carrion feeders that oblige as her legal team informing me that due to my numerous health concerns, Engelsen as an entity, had “no issue” with my attending our mutual AZ. Industrial Commission hearing in Phoenix this upcoming January via tele-conferencing. Let that sink in. The craven in Michigan who won’t face her responsibility as an employer and who is sending a proxy to deflect in her place versus facing me over the Internet, was gracious enough to allow me, her physically limited former employee she’s been screwing over for close to two years, her grace and permission not to have to aggravate his tenuous health by undertaking a ten hour round trip drive with a f**ked up shoulder that working at her shi**y warehouse helped create.

How delightfully White of her.

Ellin, according to the mouth-breathers at the Hartford, claims I wasn’t injured on the job, yet lives roughly 1,993.6 miles away from the Phoenix warehouse, so I’d hazard a guess she’s either out of the loop completely, or has psychic powers on loan from the same place that bestowed “Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo with hers. To quote comedian Ricky Gervais: “You don't see faith healers working in hospitals for the same reason that you don't see psychics winning the lottery every week.” And when it comes to a long-distance boss, I think it’s fair to say that generally, they don’t know jack s**t about what is and what isn’t going on at any given point. Ellin can claim all she wants that I wasn’t hurt while in her employ, and she can feign ignorant absolution regarding my discriminatory firing, but in the end, truth will always root out the unethical as well as the truly deceitful, which in my humble opinion, are the only values that she and her company embody.

It is a shame however, I can’t seek any valid financial recourse for every time I hurt my eyes rolling them at something she blathered over the phone, because if I could, I’d be writing this particular screed from my private fantasy island, constructed out of Ding Dongs, entirely staffed by clones of Milla Jovovich and Angeline Jolie, and populated with swimming pools filled with either Egg Nog or premium Root Beer.

On an unrelated side note, if we ever run into each other, feel free to ask me about the time she bought her South American boy toy into my workplace, because singlehandedly, he has cornered the all-denim outfit paired with gold chains market, in regards to his personal fashion. That’s not an insult by the way, I’m just amazed that in this day and age, somebody can still rock the f**k out of that look. Literally, it’s as if he stepped out of a 1974 Super Fly catalog, and strutted into our empty and colorless lives, very much in the manner of Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, albeit by way of Levi Strauss.

In appreciation of this fact, I can only bestow upon him this Gaelic blessing: “May you have been in heaven for half an hour before the Devil was even aware you were dead.” And that, is a genuine sentiment, from my heart to his closet.

Granted, not as Fly as this cat, but the experience? Pretty damn close. God bless him for that.

Currently, Ellin and her jurisdictive jackleg on a leash are attempting to get my case tossed on the softest of technicalities in order to shirk her and the Hartford’s dual responsibility, assuming that I’ll fade off and go away, but that’s not going to happen, now or ever. I sense the spilling of metaphorical blood in the water, and like most sharks, I’m going to follow it to the source, and wallow in it like Donald Trump does with Big Macs and self-bronzer.

The biblical passage Hosea 8.7 provides for me at least, an inherent overview of the situation at hand: “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.” Even if you’re an atheist, you have to admit- God knows how to turn a phrase, doesn’t he? And if there’s one thing more certain then death, taxes, and my unwavering confidence that the next Star Wars movie is going to be freaking awesome, it’s that I will be wearing this woman’s hubris for a codpiece when I am legally through with her. She wants to imply I’m a fraud? She wishes to slur my character via a lawyer who has little, in relation to the fact that she has none? I wish her to feel free doing so. I in fact, welcome the cruel, if unwise, challenge. Because in the end, whether I win or lose, I’m going to make damn sure that I legally cost her more than what it would have for her to just step up and shoulder responsibility by cutting my loyal physical therapists their long overdue check.

A hard acidic rain is coming for this arrogant wench, and it’s going to wash her into the gutter where her personal integrity already resides. Meh, enough about this walking example of why we as a society need to start eating those who bring nothing to the table, save selfishness and condescension- let’s move on to the next cadre of people in line deserving of my literary exsanguination, that being the entity that masquerades as an insurance company, when it’s not inflating its coffers and stock prices via what I allege is legalized misdirection.

But before we do that, I think it’s time for a much-needed break. So, go grab a sandwich, hug those kids of yours who’ve grown up and gone to college in your absence during the time you’ve been reading this, and wonder what your new Alien Overlords have planned now that you’re paying attention to the outside world again. And when we come back… I brag about my new sexy insulin tech, wonder aloud why I didn’t do it years before, and explain why a reputation you purchased doesn’t come anywhere remotely close to holding the same value as one you’ve earned.

“All you have in business is your reputation - so it's very important that you keep your word.”
- Richard Branson

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