Booze, Repossession, Cursing and Cigars
The Great Recession had hit me on all fronts in life. My job (which was in banking at the time) was constantly under pressure to find business, any business, otherwise we'd have to lay people off. My part-time job (moonlighting as a dance instructor) was suffering from attendance that was half of what it was two years previous. I couldn't refinance my mortgage at a lower rate because it was underwater and banks wouldn't refinance rental property. And what money I was making on the internet qualified more as a hobby than any serious source of income. I was staring bankruptcy right in the face, and with no solution under my control the dread, fear, and helplessness that ensued shortened a fuse that was already way too short.
Then, one Tuesday, my morbidly obese boss called me into his office and wanted to have a chat about a loan I had written up. I had spent nearly 6 hours writing the report for this loan. These 6 hours were completely unnecessary as even a quick skimming of the applicant's basic financials proved he would not be able to pay back the loan. But I knew what was coming. So desperate was my boss for new business he would lecture and berate me for being “too harsh” and that I should go and rewrite the entire report to his liking which translated into English meant “lie your ass off and make this loan look good so I can make a commission.”
Sure enough I was proven correct. My boss started going into how I was too harsh in my analysis. That things were not always black and white. That the numbers I calculated (though mathematically correct and precise) were still “unacceptable,” and I “better learn to become a better team player” etc., etc. However, he went an extra step further, this time criticizing my ability to do my job. How I wasn't a team player. How my writing skills were not up to par and a bunch of other things that I knew just weren't true. He was lying and trying to get a commission on a loan that he knew would never be paid back. He was being dishonest and effectively trying to steal from the bank. He was the epitome of the “bankster scum” liable for the destruction of the US economy. And this scum bag dared to have the gall to lecture me for getting in the way of his commission.
After the lecture I returned to my desk. Because of the precarious nature of my finances I had already developed the skill of letting this stuff roll of my back. I had developed the skill of ignoring it and not letting it get to me. But something inside my brain broke. Something snapped. I mentally could not tolerate the impossible situation I was in. And for the first time in my life I made a decision that was decidedly bad.
I grabbed what few things I had on my desk.
Called up my boss' boss.
Told him my boss was a criminal scum bag.
And then I quit.
I walked off the job and returned to my shitty duplex. Grabbed one of the few remaining cigars in my humidor. Poured a nearly full glass of cheap whiskey. Unfurled a lawn chair out back and permitted myself to do something I hadn't in nearly 3 years.
Enjoy life and relax.
A couple hours later my (now ex) boss called. By this time the alcohol had amply made it into my blood stream, making me an even more colorful conversationalist. And so, despite being hammered, I delivered what was arguably the greatest “fuck you” speeches ever delivered to a boss. He was more or less speechless. He murmured something about me being unprofessional, but in the end I told him he was fired...and may have followed up with something about his weight. I hung up on him, returned to my cigar and vat of rail-quality whiskey, and proceeded to pass out in my backyard.
The next few months that ensued was what I like to call “The Summer of Fuck You.” Since things were outside of my control, why would I worry or work so hard to futilely do nothing about it? My fate was cast, nobody was going to help me, there were no jobs to have, the situation was truly helpless and this was all inspite of “doing the right thing.” And so instead of “doing what was right” I decided to do what was wrong. I refused to apply for jobs, I committed myself to letting the house go into foreclosure, I got drunk nearly every day and, when sober enough, played video games all day long.
Then something interesting happened.
Out of nowhere I received a call around 2 in the afternoon. It was from a recruiter. I had slept till noon that day and had only been drinking for 2 hours, but was still drunk enough to be belligerent. The recruiter said,
“I have your resume here and you have a very impressive background!”
“Oh yeah?” I semi-slurred. “What about it?”
“Well, you have nearly a decade of credit analysis experience, you've programmed models, and the writing sample you left here was exemplary,” he explained.
“So, what, you got a job or something?” I asked flippantly.
Somewhat intimidated he said, “Well, yes, we actually do and we're looking for someone with your background.”
I said, “What bank?” and he proceeded to tell me
I knew the bank he was talking about. It was what was considered a “community bank.” Small banks that are bottom feeders in the banking industry and were the WORST when it came to credit and quality control. They employed ex-bosses like mine, middle aged scum bags who were just in it for the money and didn't mind driving the bank into bankruptcy as long as they made bonus. Knowing full well what laid in store for me if I decided to to work for this bank I bellowed out,
“Fuck you! What? Another shitty ass community bank that doesn't have it's shit together?!!! Let me guess, your president was captain of the local high school football team back in 1976 and doesn't know jack shit about financial statement analysis or ratio calculation!!! But you know he's a 'great salesman' and can play golf?!? And let me guess, you got a problem loan portfolio the size of Texas! Made loans to fucktarded midlife crisis men so they could run a bank into the ground. Yeah, I totally want to come out there and help you guys clean up your shit!!!!”
There was a moment of silence on the other end, “....so what do you charge per hour?”
Somewhat shocked he didn't hang up or tell me to fuck off, but still drunk enough not to give a shit, I bluffed.
“$75 and hour!!!”
Silence again at the other end, “....how about $65?”
Not being drunk enough to turn that down I said, “Fine!”
After some additional and more sober discussion we agreed upon a starting date and duties. But when I hung up the phone and the weight of what just transpired hit me, I looked around my dumpy basement office and said to myself, “What the fuck just happened?”
Surprises during “The Summer of Fuck You” didn't stop there. Because I had given up all hope of any success in nearly all aspects of my life, I had changed my behavior correspondingly in all of these aspects. Naturally, when I changed my behavior I got different results, usually for the better.
A girl once flaked 20 minutes before a date claiming “her friend just broke up with her boyfriend and needed her.” I read her the riot act telling her that shit didn't fly in the 7th grade and sure the fuck didn't fly at 30. Sure enough she was at my place a week later in lingerie....um...”cooking” for me.
A carpenter quoted me $1,200 and then delivered me a bill for $1,500...until I went into a rage, cut him a check for $1,200 and threatened to see him come after me for the extra $300 (which he has yet to do till this day).
A bartender once tried to short-pour me a drink. Once, and he didn't do it again after I said, “Hey, hey, hey. Did I say pour me an 'eye drop' of Rumpleminze?”
But the most dramatic effect my attitude change had was not on my career, my dating life, or price negotiation skills, but rather my insignificant hobby – blogging and self-publishing books.
Before I quit my job I made sure to keep my writing life separate from my professional life. My blog was (and still is) quite controversial. And a huge risk in today's politically correct world was that if anybody found out about it I could easily be fired for “hurting somebody's feelings,” “offending somebody's sensibilities,” or being accused of various sorts of “isms” (sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.). However, with no career to care about, a house I couldn't care less if repossessed, a genuine indifference about the future, the philosophy of all of which was drenched in booze, there was nothing left to lose. And since there was nothing left to lose I could go full throttle and speak candidly, bluntly, indifferently, not giving a one damn about who was insulted, who was offended, or whose feelings were hurt.
The results were like everything else during “The Summer of Fuck You” - unexpected and beneficial.
Readership started growing at a rate faster than ever. Loyalty increased as readers were not only more entertained and engaged, but knew I was speaking my mind (no matter how much they may have disagreed with me). And while certainly my political adversaries were even more appalled at my crassness, bluntness, insults and harsher hate-filled tone, ironically the more I “insulted” them the more self-published books I would sell.
But the biggest irony was not how the popularity of my blog increased with the controversial, rude, impolite and extreme nature of my writing, but rather what was quickly becoming the fastest growing demographic in my readership – young black males.
Based on every sort of traditional political analysis or “conventional wisdom” black males would be one of the last demographic groups that would have an interest in, let alone agree with, my blog. I, being an “evil white male libertarian conservative” could not relate to such a demographic, not to mention because of my “privilege” would be clueless, and therefore could not relate to young black men. Furthermore, because of the incredibly direct, indifferent, and politically incorrect nature of my blog it would almost be a guarantee I would be seen as a racist and dismissed as such.
The opposite was happening.
It took a bit to figure out why, but I believe it's because what young black men experience today is very similar to what I experienced seven years ago during “The Summer of Fuck You.” An impossible situation, one where there seems to be no hope, there is nothing under your control that you can do to improve it, and an impossible situation that is just too much to take. You crack and simply give up.
However, in the case of young black men “cracking and giving up” is not as destructive as becoming a daytime alcoholic, daring banks to repossess your home, cursing at job recruiters, and giving up on all hope. Rather it is much more productive in that you finally tire of doing “what was right” and instead start to search for “something that works.” And it is this search, this desire to find something that works that has driven both you and me to this same crossroad.
At this crossroads it is my sincere belief we both have the perspective and experience to fundamentally and permanently change and improve the standards of living, enjoyment, riches, happiness and lives of all black men. Our unique, but similar experiences, combined with my background in economics and finance allows us to chart the clear and guaranteed path for all black men out of poverty and into a better life. However, it is going to require more than just similarly shitty experiences and a desire for something better.
It's going to require strength.
Specifically it's going to require the strength to commit to discovering and accepting the truth. The resolve to letting go of previous beliefs that have no empirical proof of being true. Predispositions, biases and falsehoods that your life is just too short to believe in. And lies that may feel good to the ego, but are essentially the true chains that keep black man down. You must set aside your feelings and what you'd “like to be true,” and instead accept the fact that a successful life can only be achieved by abiding by what is true. If you can do that, not only can black men achieve the success of their white brothers, but surpass them, even beating out their Asian brothers.