They say you can never go Home...

Soldiers of Sparta were allowed to return home after lost battles, only if carried dead upon their shields. I'm convinced this is a more practical and time-saving way to go about it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Jupiter

This week I am in Jupiter, FL. I’m told that the beaches are beautiful here. However, I’ve been busy being in shock after the realization that it is 86 degrees outside AND I’m still in Florida AND it’s still summertime. I’m seriously thinking about moving here. Plus, it’s really beautiful. The cloud formations are amazing, and they’ve got some pretty nice hills. And yachts!—everyone here’s got yachts.

This time, my Dad has accompanied me on this trip. I spent the better part of three hours silently critiquing his driving style and marveling at the fact that he hasn’t killed himself or anyone else while navigating toll roads, while attached to a cell phone.

I guess it must be admitted that Florida has its fair share of more seasoned (read, nearly-dead) drivers. Perhaps for this reason, Florida has installed what is termed “rumble strips” on the margins of most highways. The way it works is, when Grampa starts nodding off behind the wheel of his Cadillac of Death, the strips create a noise and reverberation loud and obnoxious enough to wake him up to enjoy a few more days of Adult Depends and shuffleboard. For me, the noise is obnoxious enough even one time to keep me awake on all subsequent trips. Dad crosses the strips at regular intervals. It’s the damned phone. I think he traded in a lobe of his brain when he signed up for his cellular plan.

Anyhow, during the course of the week, I’ve begun to really wonder whether this job’s for me. It’s not just the trouble I have visualizing myself as a marketing guy or a salesman—it’s just that I can’t really get…hormonal… about this industry in which I am now representing.

I sat down the other day with a student friend of my Mother’s—they’re both in Nursing school—and I was asking her about a thesis she is in the process of writing. I have an interest in theses myself, as I am beginning to write one for an old professor at Cal Poly. I found myself talking about viruses and induction and vaccines and getting totally worked up about it. That is, until my father came into the room, having been on the cell phone for tens of minutes, looking pretty peeved that I was not speaking a language he understands.

The other thing is, the people that I normally deal with are a bit different than me. I don’t intend to say that’s a bad thing, to be different from me. God knows, it could only be a plus. It’s not the Nascar references I routinely don’t get, or even the fact that I’ve never been to a Pork Pull. There’s a certain lack of candor or polish that’s lacking here. And again, that’s not a bad thing, necessarily. But is it really necessary to use the term “fucker” to refer to the current product of discussion? I’m all about the F word, but that doesn’t mean I want to use it like this, especially while I’m trying to do business over the cloying fog of your cigar, which frankly, smells like smouldering dog shit.

So, my thoughts have turned to whether it’s a good thing I’m doing this thing here, w/ my Dad’s business.

Then today:

We had essentially clenched a touch-and-go deal with a very influential customer, who, despite some pretty concrete info, had ultimately decided that we could be trusted because the company we represent happened to be owned by someone who is third- generation Eastern-Bloc. Which, you know, is the sine qua non of integrity, apparently.

During this sentimental exchange, my Dad caught my eyes, and for a split second, the same flash went across his as did mine. It was the equivalent of rolling one’s eyes, but almost imperceptibly so. Then we both smiled knowingly.

And then I realized, that in some way, my Dad totally makes this job worth doing. Well, SOMETIMES. But you know, I was absolutely shocked to come to that realization. So many years that we’ve butted heads; refused to see or respect each others’ differences—and it turns out that the same kinds of things irk us.

I was so glad he was there.

Tomorrow morning, I hope to see the beach before I leave for Delray Beach, Coral Springs, and ultimately, Naples. I will be telling everyone down there that I am of Lithuanian-descent, so for those of you who know I’m Italian, please keep it on the down-low.