I don’t like to write about corporate matters, but I do like to write about my favorite musical artists – Daryl Hall and John Oates, so when an opportunity presents itself to leverage a Hall and Oates reference in the context of life at the 9:5, I’m willing to make an exception.
I was in a meeting where praise and plaudits were flowing like the Slurpree machine at 7-11 on a hot summer day.
After the backslapping session, I was asked by an associate why I didn’t take more credit for a successful high profile project of which I was an instrumental part.
I answered, “Just call me John Oates.” My colleague was a bit confused by my response.
I shared the story of Hall and Oates’ meteoric ascension to the top of the charts in the 80s, and how during that period, John came to accept the fact that Daryl’s voice had become the sound of Hall and Oates.
My co-worker still didn’t get it, so I continued.
John understood that Daryl sang the hits. The hits sold records. The records drew (and still do) revenue.
Even though he wrote, co-wrote and/or arranged a respectable number of their most memorable songs, John – a decent vocalist in his own right – saw the wisdom and good business sense in taking a back seat – vocally speaking – to Daryl.
And I told my colleague that’s what I did – metaphorically speaking – during our meeting, and in most aspects of my professional life.
Much like my soft spoken, spotlight-shunning idol, I don’t need to be the front man. I know my worth and what I bring to the table. Sadly, too often we encounter – shall we say – lead singers who would do a better job gassing up the tour bus than carrying a tune center stage.
With skin that fits me comfortably like a glove, I’m perfectly fine singing background vocals (of course until it’s time to embark on a solo tour – a story for another day).
With advancing age comes (if you’re lucky) advancing self-awareness. It’s just another positive side effect – The Oates effect – of life in the middle ages.
(I’m not entirely sure where we’re going with this post. You might find it motivational or philosophical, maybe you won’t. But somewhere in the next couple of hundred words, there may be a metaphor subtly tossed your way.)
A couple of afternoons ago, I had a crick in my neck. You know that weird combination of stiffness and discomfort you sometimes get if you sleep in the wrong position. The annoyance persisted into the evening and it rose to a crescendo the next morning.
I got out of bed, went for an un-inspired jog around the neighborhood – that helped. I fixed a breakfast of chia seed and blueberry oatmeal – that didn’t help. I took a hot shower – that kinda helped.
I was at the point where if I turned my head too far in either direction, sharp pain would ensue (A pain similar to the burning sensation on my neck brought on by a poorly applied cream relaxer back in the early ‘80s).
The time had come for a go-no go decision on whether or not I was going to make the donuts or take advantage of the ton of sick days I’ve accumulated.
Don’t ask me why, but I opted to punch the clock.
Once I arrived at the 9-to-5, A stiff cup-o-Joe washed down an over the counter acetaminophen based pain reliever and I went on with the business of my work day.
Other than moving around with the combined grace of Herman Munster and The Robot from the old Lost in Space TV show, I made it through the day with my discomfort pretty much unnoticed.
Work day finished, I made it home (Trying to avoid too many neck turns and keeping the Seoulmobile in one lane).
Another over the counter pain med, a good night sleep and another feeble run through the neighborhood and things slowly returned to normal.
Where am I going with this?
Is this simply a 51-year old midlifer complaining about the aches and pains of being a 51-year old midlifer?
Or is there a moral to this story?
That moral being that sometimes the best medicine for a little discomfort is to keep moving through it.
Yeah, I could have used a sick day and miserably languished on the Barcalounger in my footsie PJs, caught a round of Hot Topics with Wendy or try a case or two with Judge Judy, with a hot compress on my achy breaky neck, but for whatever reason, I suited up and made the donuts.
And I’m glad I did.
Hey, I’m not try to come across all tough guy, Johnny Work Ethic. I just want to convey that there is something to be said about moving – especially for those of us north of 50.
All of us from time to time have to endure a little discomfort. And when we do, we have to choose the best course of treatment.
Do we sit and suffer or take action and get up and move?
Just keep this rant in mind and do what’s best for you the next time a pain in the neck enters your life (Metaphorical mic dropped!).
I love my smart phone. I enjoy having a music player, camera, GPS, gaming handheld and – oh yeah – a telephone all in one device. Despite my admiration for this modern convenience, I still can’t get myself to consistently use it to manage my to do list. In fact, the task ‘write blog post’ is scribbled on a piece of paper and not posted in my to do list application.
We had a similar version of this conversation nearly four years ago. No surprise, not much has changed.
Giving it some thought, the reason why I still lean on a paper to do list is the ability to quickly jot down a task in my trusty notebook versus the multi-step process of waking up the device, opening the app, going to the ‘new item’ screen, my chubby fingers and the typos that ensue and finally saving the entry.
Of course my handwritten to do list doesn’t provide the ability to set reminders, color code, forward, archive or share my tasks on social media.
And I’m OK with that.
In the highly-technological world in which we live, sometimes a simple non-tech solution is equally effective as a digital alternative.
I could go on, but there are a few more tasks on this dog-eared piece of scrap paper that I have to knock out before the day is over.
This isn’t a product endorsement, but I love Dunkin Donuts coffee – ever since my first cups of the stuff consumed trying to be cool and grown as a youngster in high school (Looking back, coffee was the strongest beverage I consumed until I got to college).
Imagine my excitement as I drove down the road last week back to the 9 to 5 following an early morning business meeting (a meeting where the coffee tasted like a warmed over watered down cola beverage) when in the distance I saw a Dunkin Donuts location. I flung the Seoulmobile across two lanes of traffic like Speed Racer in pursuit of Racer X so I wouldn’t miss the driveway to this oasis of caffeinated bliss.
As I entered the shop, I saw a decal on the window indicating that this store provided AARP discounts – in this case, one free donut.
Bonus! My favorite coffee and a baked confection to dip – or shall I say dunk – in it.
Yeah, I know I got a lot of miles to travel before I can even remotely think about retirement, but that didn’t stop me from joining AARP shortly after hitting the big half-century mark last year.
With my trusty membership card in hand, I sauntered (my usual confident stride that’s somewhere between Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and Barney the Dinosaur) up to the counter to place my order – a medium with cream and sugar (Yes, whole cream and white sugar – the devil’s products, I know, but we all have our weaknesses!). And as I went to raise my card to order my free donut, the young man behind the counter cut me off and said “I got you pop. What kind of donut do you want?”
Pop? Even my kid doesn’t call me Pop (but with her genetically-tinged wry sense of humor, she’s likely to after she sees this post!)
Visions of Fred Sanford popped into my head, as I pictured Lamont in a Dunkin Donuts uniform taking my order.
More tickled than ticked off, I matched his smile with one of my own and ordered a toasted coconut.
I thought I had a few more years before I transitioned into being called Pop, but I guess that’s the chance one takes wielding an AARP card.
Well, I guess I’ll go unload the truck and see if Grady wants to come over for a glass or two of Ripple!
Santa is hooking me up with a new mobile communications device. Always willing to help my elders, I figured I’d go pick it up myself and save the old guy the trouble.
I went to my neighborhood mobile communications device vendor. It was a relatively uneventful purchase. It was simply an equipment upgrade. There would be no change in my mobile service, and since I knew what device I wanted, there really wasn’t much left for the sales professional to do beyond a few administrative tasks – or so I thought.
Toward the end of the transaction came time for the cross sell (Cross sell is just a fancy marketing term for suggesting related items to someone who is considering buying something – Do you want fries with that burger?)
First she started by asking if I needed any accessories. Knowing I could get cases and cords a lot cheaper at that online retailer named after a river in South America, I politely declined. Her next attempt at (getting a commission) meeting my needs as a customer came when she offered to register me for a service that would allow me to upgrade my device every two weeks or some such ridiculous period of time.
Of course, I’m kidding when I say the upgrade period was every two weeks. I guess not everyone keeps their electronics until the buttons fall off like I do, and I do see the value in a service that allows customers to upgrade to the latest and greatest shiny object to emerge from Cupertino – it’s just not for me. Besides, my mobile communications bill is high enough without any additional add-ons.
Not content with my negative response, the sales professional went on to tell me about how she benefited from this service. She said that one night she was out partying with her girls, and she lost her device at the club. Thanks to this service, she was able to easily replace the unit.
Here is when things got entertaining!
She then said if something similar happened to me, I would be able to replace my unit. Feeling frisky, I asked her if she meant that if my unit was lost in the club, I could easily get it replaced. She responded – with a look that said that commission is all mine – “yes, when you go out, and if you lose your unit, we’ll replace it…”
My unit hasn’t been “in the club” since the first Bush administration!
Had she been more observant, she would have noticed that shiny piece of jewelry on my left ring finger, the gray on my chin. Maybe she would have noticed my sensible shoes, my conservative neckwear (which we’ve discussed), my buttoned down Van Heusen or the sliver of AARP card sticking out of the wallet that was on the counter ready to close a sale that should have gone a lot faster.
If she had simply said the service allows customers to upgrade their devices if they’re lost, she might have had a better chance of moving me to buy. But I was so amused with visions in my head of my old Carlton-like dancing, Hall and Oates loving, can’t stay awake past 10 o’clock, 0ne glass of red for my heart self in the club, I was pretty much tuned out to what remained of her very aggressive sales pitch.
Sadly, I burst her bubble and declined her offer.
I have since given that sales professional a decent review on the survey that quickly landed in my inbox following the sale. After all, she did her best, and I’m sure she is either very heavily incented or heavily pressured to sell as many add-ons as possible.
As for me, I better make sure my mobile communications device doesn’t go flying out of the pocket of my Dockers when I’m dropping it like it’s hot (Is that still a relevant reference?) in the club this weekend.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been rereading a great book by Charles Duhigg. You may have seen it. It’s called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.
Part of Duhigg’s argument is that once we can accept that habits – good and bad – can be changed, it’s easier for us to take responsibility to change the good and improve upon the bad.
As that’s where I am today – a belly full of Thanksgiving and a guilty conscious as a result of falling short of maintaining a good habit and instead taking on a bad one.
I’m talking about what was once a pretty frequent 4 to 6 day a week workout schedule that has sadly slipped to zero to 1 time a week.
We’re all friends here and since we’re all about full disclosure at the Chronicles, I don’t mind turning over a stone or two and letting the creepy crawlies run out.
I have been woefully slacking when it comes to dragging my carcass out of bed for my daily workouts.
It would be too easy to fall back on any variety of excuses. Let’s see, there’s work, a recent (short lived) spat of cold weather, a scratchy throat, sore feet, a gassy stomach, the moon in Aquarius – stop me when you’ve heard enough.
The part that sucks about not working out is how hard it is to get back in the proverbial swing of things – that good habit I spoke of earlier.
Being in the middle ages, on a good day, it takes this 50-year old body an extra minute or two to get warm and loosened up for the task at hand, but when I’ve been inactively perched on the shelf for more than a week having fallen prey to the excuse trap, it becomes even more of challenge to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving.
I like to run, and when I’m consistent, I can run well. When I stop for a few days, nay weeks, I find that I have to start all over again. Those 3 to 4 mile runs divert back to achy 1 mile walks – which ain’t bad, except when I’m consistent, I know I can do better.
As I guy who prefers to focus on solutions rather than harping on problems, I am committed to remedying this tedious situation.
No longer will the joy of sleeping in an extra 90 minutes outweigh the benefits of getting my arse out of bed and in the gym or on the road, because if I don’t I will begin to seriously outweigh my wardrobe.
I don’t like to beat myself up – physically or mentally – after all, I’m the only me I have. But I have to admit, I’ve gone soft on holding myself accountable – nearly as soft as my squishy cream-filled middle.
Thank you for allowing me to vent, and I’ll see you bright and early in the tranquil predawn hours grasping for that last rep in my swank basement gym or huffing and puffing my way in a less than attractive trot through the bucolic streets that surround Casa de McCullough.
That’s it. No deep philosophical take aways or clever quips as we wrap up this post.
It’s simply man in the mirror time, and that man is a little chunky.
I’ve never thought I was inflexible or set in my ways, but after a splash of cold water in the face bout of self-discovery this past week, I guess I have to adjust that assessment.
Let me explain.
I was working on a project with a friend that required me to spend some quality time with a Mac Book Pro. No big deal, right? The problem is, I’ve been hunting and pecking on Windows (also known as IBM if you’re an old school geek) hardware for nearly 25 years (prior to that we had these things called typewriters).
I had to laugh at myself (which I frequently do) over my ineptitude! Where’s the backspace key? Who moved the alt key? And what’s the deal with this damn Trackpad gimmick?!?
We finished the project despite Johnny Jobs slowing things down.
There’s no arguing that the Mac Book is a beautiful machine, but my Windows loyalties are still in tact. I don’t plan on squirreling away a grand and a half of my milk money to join the Cupertino faithful anytime soon.
But this embarrassing attempt to be a cool Macboy has taught me that I might need to see if there are any other areas where this midlifer is stubbornly set in his ways.
Well, that’s it for now. My modem is overheating, which may knock out my AOL connection, and I’ve got to flip over the 33 and a 1/3 that’s spinning on my turntable!