Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the tag “money”

Officially (via post) unemployed.

March 24th, 2012 marks the end of the current appointment period.  Per the Stafford Act and the Conditions of Employment, you have not been reappointed.  However, you are free to apply for an appointment within another Cadre.

Not exactly the letter I was expecting to receive today, but there you have it.  I’ve worked with the government since 2004 and as a temporary, intermittent employee, they can choose to reappoint or not at will.  I thought my work was strong.  I have never received a poor performance review.  And I have even had people request for me to be on their team(s) because they know about my work ethic and ability to get the job done.

In one sense, I’m not happy.  I don’t know why the appointment wasn’t renewed and I’m not used to having a job and then not having one without another lined-up waiting in the wings (it’s actually quite embarrassing).  In another sense, it now relieves the stress of what would happen should I be called-out to work in the immediate future before I finish my work with my doctors and therapists regarding my vision issues and how I’ll be able to keep working with them.  And, by not having to travel cross-country I don’t have to worry about trying to get on a plane with Celeste and having issues with other passengers.

True, the job has always been temporary.  It’s kind of morbid, when you think about it, being the only person watching The Weather Channel and rooting for the hurricane so that there would be work so I could pay my bills.  Oh, I’d always temper that with the hopes that no one would be killed or seriously injured.  Just enough damages so I could use my skills helping others and making sure there’s food on the table back home.

I’ve emailed my (now former) supervisors for a personal explanation — just so I’ll know whether or not it’s worth trying to apply with another Cadre.  If they’re saying something awful about me that I don’t know about, it would be foolish to put them down as a reference and apply with others who have or will hear the same things said.  With today being Saturday, I know I probably won’t get a response until Monday, if then (since everyone’s busy).  I hope that they’ll be able to give me the information needed and perhaps suggest other Cadre managers that I should speak with regarding applying to work in their units where my education, experience, and talents would be well-suited.

Am I angry?  No.  Am I happy?  No.  My feelings at the moment are mixed — which is not unusual for someone who’s bi-polar.  It’s weird to think that a lot of my friends will continue their careers without me and we won’t have those wonderful stories to tell together of the good and bad times we shared.  Many of my friends taught me what it was like to work in this field; many of my other friends I helped get started on their way.

If nothing else, I can look back at 8 years of employment with the satisfaction that I did my job.  I did it well.  People were helped because of me.  And even though I didn’t always receive a “thank you” or a “kiss my backside” (depending on the situation), I was there and did the best I could.  And knowing that my best helped others achieve their best, or at least attempt to get back to “normal” after what was possibly the “worst” time in their life, makes a big difference to me.

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Spring Gun Show: Day One

I’m surprised.  I’m very surprised.  I’m actually on the verge of being stunned.  Today, I didn’t have to yell at anyone in disgust during the gun show.  And that’s a first for me in a long time!

I don’t consider myself a rude person.  I try to be friendly and cordial with everyone I meet, especially if they’re a customer, until they give me a reason not to be.  Then, depending on the amount of stupidity or rudeness received, all bets are off.  My business is there to make money, not to please the entire world.  I’ve spent years of my life studying and researching information so that I am as close to being an expert as I can be with regards to the items I sell.  And since 99% of all of the items are either from the Vietnam War era or earlier (I deal in military surplus, in case you forgot or are new to my writings), a lot of my information has to come from hands-on experience with the items, talking to veterans who owned or were issued the items, and doing a LOT of reading so that I’ll know the little details.  Not every helmet is the same.  Not every weapon is the same.  And just because you watched Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan doesn’t make you an expert on WWII militaria!  You might own the entire DVD set of every Tour of Duty season or you have every M*A*S*H and After M*A*S*H episode memorized, but that doesn’t make you an expert on the Vietnam or Korean Wars!

The worst thing to do is to come up to my table (which I have spent a fair amount of money to rent so that I can sell my items) after I’ve traveled a long distance to be at the show (sometimes I’m lucky and the shows are actually at a center across the street from my house!) and made sure that I’ve brought a wide variety of items (because one of the biggest complaints at shows is that “there’s nothing worth buying”) and trying to inform me that the polyester-blend jacket you’re holding was passed-down three generations from your relative that served in the American Revolution and because you’ve seen the latest documentary on History Channel that has one “just like it” that I must purchase it from you for an ungodly amount of money.  Or, you bring an item to me and tell me how you watched a television show where someone had one exactly like it except for the color, size, and rust on it and that you demand that I pay the appraised amount from the show.  I’ll make this simple — do either of those things, and the answer is going to be, “Not gonna happen in this lifetime, buddy!”

Another one of the top items to not do is to bring your item to my table, stand in front of me and give me a very, very long, very, very detailed “history” of the item and how you came to own it and then ask me what it’s worth.  It’s even worse when you start your diatribe with, “Do you know what this is?” not in a manner of “Can you help me?” but with the attitude of “I’m going to teach you something.”  What’s most irritating is when I’ve answered your question that I do or don’t know what the item is and ask if you want to sell the item to me and you respond with a resounding “Of course not!” or “Depends on what you tell me it’s worth!  Why should I give you an appraisal for free?  You don’t get other items appraised for free.  Why should I utilize the many years research and knowledge that I have to tell you something that (1) you think you already knew or (2) had no clue about and not get anything out of it?  I don’t work for Antiques Roadshow so my appraisals aren’t free!

Also, when I give a “value” on an item, it’s going to be one of three things — (1) the current market value of the item based on others I’ve seen sell at retail or auction, (2) an estimated insurance value if it’s something that I’ve already been informed is going to stay within the family (and my appraisal fee is paid), or (3) what I think it’s worth to me or what I’m willing to pay because I am going to resell it and need to be able to make a profit.  I’m not buying your memories or appraising your family’s history — I’m in this game to make money and just because you saw someone else told that their item is worth $30,000 doesn’t mean that your’s is as well!  Not every World War II uniform was worn by Eisenhower or Patton and not every German pistol was carried by Goering or Hitler.  And trust me on this, there are a LOT of faked items out there!  Collectors and reenactors have demanded reproduction items and manufacturers have been more than happy to provide them, especially if they’re Nazi items!  They first started reproducing the uniforms but used actual WWII-era materials and thread which made detecting a fake almost impossible.  Then they reproduced weapons with old parts found in defunct factories.  The parts are “original” but the build of the weapon didn’t happen until the 1980s — so saying it’s “real” is kind of hard to do.  Now, there are companies that not only fake the medals (and not just the high honor ones but even the ones that EVERYONE got) but they even fake the presentation boxes the things came in from the 1940s!!  It’s getting so you can’t trust anything as “authentic” anymore!

Oh, and when I said “real” above, that word drives me insane.  People come up to me when I’m wearing my WWII-era authentic uniform and ask, “Is that real?”  I tell them, “Why, yes, it is — in the sense that it takes up time and space.”  That usually baffles them for a few moments until they decide to ask, “Is it really your uniform?”  I reply, “Yes, it is mine because I bought and paid for it myself and am the only person who wears it.”  Again, I’ll get some blank stares because they’re not sure of what to say.  What they should have asked is, “Is that an authentic WWII uniform?” or “Is that uniform original to the WWII-era?” or “Was that uniform made during WWII and possibly used by a soldier then?”  Then I could answer them whether or not my uniform is “authentic,” “genuine” or “vintage.”  “Real” is a word that has way too many meanings.  And asking if it is “mine” implies that I am the person who wore the uniform during World War II and earned the medals pinned to the dress jacket and actually obtained the rank worn from the United States Government.  I may be starting to look older, but I’m not THAT old yet!!

So today wasn’t filled with as many questions or issues like those.  It was nice to have intelligent and humorous conversations with prospective customers.  And when some would ask me for my “expert” opinion or for clarification with regards to an item or type of items I’ve spent a lot of time researching, I was happy to oblige.  True, there were a number of people who tapped on the helmets to make sure they were really made out of metal and others who tried to “inform” us that we couldn’t own or sell our wares because “it’s illegal to own government property” even though the items are edging 70 years old and no one in the government has been searching for them (especially since they discontinued them and threw away what was left-over ages ago).

Hopefully tomorrow will go well.  And if not, at least I’m still on my painkillers from yesterday and they help mellow me out for short periods of time.

Presidents’ Day Sale: Isn’t that every day?

Once again we have another Federal holiday and the newspapers, radio, and television are filled to the brim with advertisements for Presidents’ Day Sales.  Will we ever have a holiday that doesn’t involve unbridled avarice?  Sure, we’re a capitalist society, but we do we have to change our holidays from times of remembrance and honor to just simply buying the crap out of everything?

Of course, I’m also one of the “old fogeys” who remembers back-in-the-day when we used to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on one date (February 22nd) and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on another (February 12th).  And if you’re reading this and have no idea who either of those people are, then please, in all seriousness, stop reading my blog because you’re just going to embarrass yourself.  Our school classrooms were always decorated with silhouettes of Washington and Lincoln and the red-white-and-blue bulletin board borders were strung around the room and decorated each desk.  Sometimes there would be contests to see who could dress-up most like either of them and some teachers who only wanted to have to decorate once in the month of February would put the silhouettes of our first and sixteenth presidents (facing each other, usually) inside a large pink heart.  That one always confused me.

After the recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday as a Federal holiday, a lot of states stopped celebrating Lincoln’s birthday because they didn’t want to have to give their employees another paid day-off.  Some states still celebrate it, however, as a state holiday (Illinois being one of the biggest).  But if we had a holiday for every president and event in our country’s history, the government would never be open and all Federal employees would spend most of their time off with pay.  Actually, there are some days it seems like they do that anyway.  Technically, there is no “Presidents’ Day” or “President’s Day” or “Presidents Day” (depending on your interpretation of punctuation rules).  The official designation is Washington’s Birthday and no formal bill has ever changed that.  Some have tried — Nixon issued an executive order to celebrate all presidents (including himself, of course) but that didn’t change the holiday.  A bill was even introduced in 2001 but it never made it out of the subcommittee trying to present it.

So, the sales we’re having are actually to celebrate Washington’s birthday.  But let’s look at the phrasing of what’s printed on most of our calendars because the greeting card industry and all the politically-correct rulesmongers won’t have us ignoring the other 43 presidents we’ve had.  Presidents’ Day.  A day for all of the presidents.

Now let’s add the commercialization part.  Presidents’ Day Sale.  A day to sell presidents?  We have that every day, don’t we?  Look at the current campaigns — it’s a battle for who’s got the most money; who can spend the most in a certain area; and who is going to promise the most going back to the citizens just so long as they donate enough to help them get elected.  No one without a huge “war chest” could even dream of becoming president.  If you don’t already have your own large amount of money that’s doing nothing but waiting to be spent, a PAC, a Super-PAC, or a Super-Sized-PAC-with-fries-and-a-drink, you don’t stand a chance.

Technically, we buy-and-sell our presidents every day.  After one election ends and the inauguration occurs, hopefuls for the next one four years down the road start jockeying for position.  And anyone in politics who says they’re not interested in running is probably lying through their teeth.  But behind the scenes, where the lobbyists and special-interest groups lurk while pretending they’re not involved, the money gathering begins.  If you’ve got the money, we’ve got the candidate for you!

It’s been jokingly suggested that we should make all of our politicians wear uniforms with their “sponsors” logos on them, like the NASCAR drivers do.  There’d be some who’d have to change outfits four-or-more times a day just so every donor would get equal “screen time.”  Watching them trying to give a speech or meet-and-greet with the public would be hysterical as they try to ensure shaking enough hands while holding a sponsoring beverage in the other.  Shoot, the State of the Union address would have everyone sitting and listening to the president while an aide did the old “hat dance” (where the winning driver had to briefly wear a hat from each of the race’s sponsors during the post-race interview) as they sat in the gallery.  I’d almost pay to see that!

The current political climate is already bragging and complaining about money raised and spent and who has how much.  Sure, they say we have “free” elections — but don’t take that too literally.  We’ll pay for it, for good or for bad, one way or another.

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