Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Your Move

I never learned how to play chess. I either lack the patience or the intelligence, or maybe both. My hope is that Barack Obama is a master of the game.

With the latest rumbling from below ground, and streaks across the sky, North Korea has made another bold statement. Whether these were acts of stupidity or not will be determined in the coming months. We must determine if this was a move with a pawn, a bishop or the queen. Are we to respond with caution or with aggressiveness?

The last President never wanted to play this game. He appeared to be a checkers man. Thinking several moves ahead was seemingly not within his ability or desire.

On so many fronts, the new President is being challenged to demonstrate his capacities. Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, all await a tactical response. Leaders from around the globe will be analyzing and dissecting the foreign policy directives to find the new Presidents strengths and weaknesses.

In our country, financial reforms, environmental dictates, ethical boundaries, all will be shaped as Obama moves his pieces. Unlike Bush, this President will not try to plow down everything in his way, consequences be damned. Obama appears to be one willing to wear an opponent down whenever possible, to take control of the board little by little.

We are in a difficult era, one overflowing with unanswered questions. The board is full of players posing danger. The next step, on so many levels, belongs to the President. We desperately need a man of vision to take the necessary actions to avoid any possibility of being checkmated. Mr. President, it is your move.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Debate that Never Was

Former Vice President Cheney squared off against President Obama yesterday. While not face to face, they were back to back.

Black and white against nuance.

We are not dead, we have not been attacked, we thus did the tough job. With us or against us.
We face a wall of continued hatred, escalated by years of abuse of our own values and by extension, abuse and disregard for the value and worth of every human being on the planet who is not on our side.

Enhanced interrogation and the closing of the infamous prison. Nancy Pelosi and whether or not to release photos of our past misdeeds. The debate that never was now is.

While we are still consumed with our economic survival, we have at least begun the process of exhaling. Thus, while there was no room in our brains last fall to hear of anything other than how we were going to avoid total collapse, we have now begun to at least entertain other topics. Last year it was more critical to discuss whether we should fill up our tires with air then to focus on our foreign policy and our methods to accomplish our goals.

While W is off doing whatever it is that W does, and the Republican party decides how to reconstitute itself, the man who now stands at their forefront is without remorse for any past actions or fear of political suicide in the future. He finds himself free of any shackles of political correctness. In his new role, he is attempting to push the President into a corner.

Obama's position relies on trying to find some reasoned middle ground. More photos, no. Layers of decisions for the level of threat posed by each detainee. Obama is constrained by a logic and philosophy that never held Cheney back. Cheney has come out swinging and Obama, for the moment, seems to be covering up (not that kind of covering up). Let's see how good a counterpuncher the new kid at 1600 will be in the coming months. Round 1 is over but there is more ahead.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I am a flawed person. We all are flawed people. Sometimes, we need a wake up call to make us acknowledge and address our shortcomings. I got mine last night, by phone.

It is not easy criticizing someone directly. How do you phrase it so that it doesn't make the speaker sound mean or aggressive? You can only imagine that if you state it the wrong way, the recipient will be greatly offended and hurt. I was complimented while being chastised. It was the right approach, at least for me.

As faults go, the one in question is not earth shattering. The call centered on my self degradation on the golf course. You see, I like to think of myself as the golfer I once was, and will quite frankly never be again. I want others to know, and remind them consistently, that I was better than this, and I am disappointed in my performance. They don't want to hear my constant whining of my golfing inadequacies. Whether they are better or worse than me, I am sure they share a common dislike for my continual rant. To tell you the truth, I can't stand it either.

But, like I say, it is a flaw. Think about the most annoying habit you have. I don't know if you can wish it away. I would certainly wish that my banter center only on positive thoughts. It would make the time I spend with others easier for them, and for me. I am often in a new golfing community these days and have not been sought out as a regular by anyone with whom I have played. If I am honest with myself, I know the reason why. If I had the choice, I wouldn't make that call to me.

So, today when I am frustrated by the mishits and mistakes, I will make a real effort to correct my shortcoming. Normally, when I play, my thoughts are focused only on finding golfing greatness. Today, I will try to think only of how I can improve my demeanor. Maybe I can find the greatness I am searching for in places I never imagined.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Terminated (A True Story About A Friend)


My brother could see the panic in my eyes. I was unable to speak. I was unable to breathe. My life, as I had once known it, was now over. It all was happening in a split second and there was nothing I could to stop the voice on the other end of the phone. My dealership, and that of my brother, were being terminated by Chrysler.

I was able to put the call on speakerphone so my brother could hear the sentence being pronounced. The words droned on, but all meaning was lost except for the one essential. How do you tell someone they are no longer needed? Wasn't there something that could be said to give me hope, to make me feel like I had value? Where was my gold watch?

I was glad my father and my grandmother weren't here to witness the death of a dream. I recall my grandmother, well into her 90s, still showing up at our office every day and doing whatever it was that she did. This was not our business. It was our home and our part of the fabric of something much larger than us. It was memories of good times and bad, of joys and sorrows. It was everyone who had toiled on our behalf. Everyone who shook our hand along the way. Everyone who contributed, everyone who was a part of something real and something important. Now, in a flash, it was gone.

I wanted to cry. I knew the tears would flow in many homes this evening. I was about to hear from one of my children who now said he would not return to college but would be dropping out of school to get a job. I would soon be talking with bankruptcy lawyers who wanted my money but could offer little by way of hope in exchange. It would be endless nights and endless conversations. There would be nothing that could distract me. From now on, for the foreseeable future, survival was all that would be permitted to permeate into my brain.

I know there are thousands who got this phone call. I know there are hundreds of thousands who are struggling to make sense of any of this. How could we, who have only done right over the years, find ourselves abandoned and alone? Our government will not be an instrument to assure our continued existence, but will help precipitate our quick demise. I know I should have some faith in the system, but I have no idea how I can find it.

We are in the wrong place at the very wrong time. Our story will be written in the history books and it will be a paragraph in the larger issue of greed and deregulation. We will be lost in a maze of fingerpointing and recrimination. We will be the nameless and faceless victims. We have committed no crime, but the punishment will be meted out. We are in the way, and we are being steamrolled.

I tried to catch my breath. I could see in my brother every emotion that was coursing through me. Where had the last 40 years of work in this industry gone? Not only could I not see the next 40 years, I couldn't even see how I could get to tomorrow.

Mercifully, finally, there was no voice on the other end of the phone. My head dropped and my hands covered my eyes. All of a sudden, I was exhausted. I wanted to say something to my brother but my voice had been silenced. I shuffled some papers that lay on my desk but they were no longer of any consequence. Outside this door, there were people who were going to have to be told. I didn't want to get out of my seat. A world of unpleasantness was waiting. If I didn't move, maybe none of it would find me.

They talk about the 5 stages of reaction when something really horrible happens in your life. I know this is the first stage. I don't want to even contemplate the others. I believe we as a group deserved more than this. I know that my brother and I feel that we have given every fiber of our beings to do something that would make our parents, grandparents, our families, our communities and the company proud. Now I wonder, for what purpose? They have taken everything away in one phone call. They did it because they could. Shame on them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mission Accomplished

The lesson learned is that hard work pays dividends. If one is vigilant and persistent, then goals can be reached and differences can be made. Numbers don't lie. We are winning the war against immigration.

Or maybe, just maybe, people don't really want anything more than the best life they can find for themselves in whatever place they can find it. Maybe we don't need the Lou Dobbs drone of nonsense day after day to accomplish a decline in immigration. The recession has done the job for him.

The report in today's New York Times is of a dramatic decline in the number of people trying to flee Mexico illegally. The answer for those of you who don't want these people here is merely to let our country run itself into the ground. Whereas we have previously been told there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the US, the Times now estimates the figure as closer to 11 million. We have more people fleeing this country then sneaking into it.

Soon we will be able to balance the budget by just continuing to fail to recover. We won't need to patrol the borders. We won't have to worry about providing services for millions of people who may be unable to come out into the light of day for fear of deportation. Our new strategy must be one of failure. Only in that way can we succeed.

You see, they never wanted a free ride from us. If there are no jobs, there is no immigration problem. I want to applaud the former administration for creating such a mess that when those longing for something more look across the border, they no longer see anything they want. The Bush legacy is that he was finally able to shut up those who rail against immigration. Lou Dobbs may be out of a job soon. Maybe he should think about moving to Mexico to find work.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Old House

Before I put this next item up for bid, I want you to understand exactly what you are buying. If you take this piece home, with it comes a living history. What you cannot see, touch or smell, but what is embedded deep within is:

1.The Babe, from his time in the orphanage in Maryland, through his days as a pitcher and sometime outfielder with the enemy also known as the Red Sox, to the first home run hit in his house on April 18, 1923, to Murderer's Row, to 714, and to his final curtain call on the days near death:

2. The Iron Horse from the moment he stepped on the field at Columbia University, to 2130 as the unstoppable first baseman now and forever, to his dignity and grace throughout his career and to those immortal words as he stared death in the face.

3. Joltin Joe from the streets of San Francisco, with the incredible stride and the seeming ease with which he tracked down fly balls and hit opposing pitchers, to 56 to passing the torch to a young man from Oklahoma, and even to his later days and nights with Marilyn.

4. The Mick, from his arrival as a scared kid, overmatched and overwhelmed, with the incredible speed and power, to the colorful nights that sometimes overshadowed his baseball prowess, to 536 and finally to a somewhat tragic end in which he questioned many of the decisions made.

5. Number 2, Derek Jeter, who we still count as one of our own, who sprung up fully ready to lead by example and who still shines as a bright light and carrier of the torch of excellence.

You are getting back your grandfather, your father, your innocence and your belief that everything was good and everything was possible. You are taking a piece of 26 World Championships home with you this evening if you are the fortunate winning bid.

Now, as you look at this toilet bowl in which the Mick once threw up after an all night bender, I will start the bidding at $15,000. I have 15, do I hear 20?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another piece in the NY Times

I just opened the Sunday Sports section and saw the "In-Box" headline, "Baseball Stats Move Beyond the * to the ?" I thought to myself that it sounded just like a recent submission to them ("Manny" is my blog post).

In fact, the headline was referring to my piece, which was edited and printed.

I didn't have any notice from them that this was going to happen. What a nice surprise.

If you are keeping count (as I am), that is 3 pieces in the NY Times, 1 in Time Magazine and a story in The Chicken Soup for the Soul series. I am a bit overwhelmed by it all.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day, and enjoyed my post about my Mom.

Mother's Day

She is now 91. Her mind often is more foe than friend some days, as she battles to hold onto information. It is often difficult for her to struggle to fill up the hours as she searches for something that can grab her attention. These are obviously not quite the golden years I had hoped she would have.

But her role of mother remains unchanged. This is one thing that she will cling to with every ounce of strength until her last day. Many of our conversations have a Groundhog Day quality to them now, but they always, always center on her concerns as a mother and a grandmother. "What can I do for you? Do you have enough money? How are the kids? Richie seems to be doing so much better. Alex is such a wonderful child. What can I do for them? Isn't your sister wonderful? She would do anything for you. What can I do for you?"

From my earliest memories, she was unflinchingly and unabashedly devoted to my welfare. There was no me first in her vocabulary, whether it came to me, my sister or my father. We were always front and center stage. She had been a much loved teacher who had 'retired' once she married. Her energy and time was focused thereafter on making sure we understood how special our father was, how special we were and how fortunate our lot in life.

I don't ever remember a time growing up when I had to 'care' for my mom. There was never a reversal of roles. She was the giver, we the takers. Everything was handed out unconditionally and unceremoniously. We did not owe her for her good deeds. Her happiness was in seeing that our lives were full and settled.

Thus, it is often a challenge for me to take on the role of caregiver for my mom these days. Both my sister and I spend much of our time worried about how we can fill up the time and space for our mother. I find that I do things but, at certain moments, not with the same generosity of spirit that my mom has exhibited towards me. I am not happy with myself when I sense my frustration and wonder how I could be anything other than fully committed to making every second for my mom as comfortable as she has for me.

Today is Mother's Day. I sit here, early in the morning, waiting to call her. She sleeps much later now, and her days do not begin until she can shake the fog and stiffness. She will not remember much of what happened yesterday and will have trouble determining what today holds in store. But as I know the sun comes up every morning and sets every night, I can be assured that she will begin our conversation asking how my family is and what she can do for me. In that way my Mom is the same as she was in the days that are now but fading memories.

I love you Mom, and thank you for everything you were and everything you still are. Happy Mother's Day. What can I do for you?

Friday, May 8, 2009


It's just Manny being.... well, just about everyone who has entered the elite 500 home run club in the last decade. Among the indicted (at least in baseball terms) are the following members of the club that counts only 25 among its brethren: Mark McGwire (500th home run on 8/5/99), Barry Bonds (4/17/01) Sammy Sosa (4/4/03), Raphael Palmiero (5/11/03), Alex Rodriguez (8/4/07), Manny Ramirez (5/31/08), Gary Sheffield (4/17/09)

Do we look with reverence or with caution upon Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Thome, and Frank Thomas, the others to pass the 500 home run threshold since Eddie Murray in 1996? Does every injury by Griffey or every extra pound of muscle by Thomas signal some deeper meaning? Do Thome's rising number of home runs in years when his career 'should' have been in decline, mean there is fire where there is smoke?

No, we are not surprised that Manny has been added to the growing list of the hall of shame. If only it were Manny being Manny it would be much less discouraging. Let's hope the era of illusion and disillusion is coming to an end and we can get back to a time when every statistic didn't end with a question mark.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Spot

The writing was scribbled on a piece of cardboard. It read "parking $25". Even though I was driving at about 1 mile per hour, I had failed to see the hand held sign as I drove by. My eyes were fixed on the long line of cars headed towards Yankee Stadium. As game time drew closer, the possibility of finding parking seemed more and more remote.

I was the only one of the 4 in the vehicle on the right side of 60. To say we had been around the block a few times collectively was obvious. Yet, in a moment where sharp thinking was required, we were about to exhibit the collective intellect of a piece of dirt.

"Turn around. I saw a sign for parking about a block back". With dutiful obedience, as soon as I had an opportunity, I swung the car around and headed back from where I had just come. I had been on this street hundreds of times throughout the years and never remembered any parking lots in that immediate vicinity. It should have registered with the 'too good to be true' portion of what was allegedly my brain. It did not.

There were 4 people on the sidewalk, as I looked to my left. The sign was being held high by one of the gathered crew. I was waved over by the 'attendant' and headed towards parking salvation.

In front of me was a 2 car garage, with 2 cars in the allotted spots. As my car took up virtually all of the space on the sidewalk between the front of the garage and the street, I inquired as to where the car would be parked. "Leave it here, pal." 'Here' was a sidewalk on Jerome Avenue about 3 blocks north of Yankee Stadium. This was not good.

I turned to my fellow travelers for advise. The desire to catch the first pitch clearly outweighed any attempt to utilize the tiniest speck of logic. We would leave the car on the sidewalk and trust in the integrity of our fellow man. The $25 was handed over. No receipt was given as this was most clearly an informal arrangement that these 4 had made with the City of New York.

The walk to the Stadium was filled with stutter steps as I repeatedly questioned my sanity. I heard myself actually saying "it's only a car". I think this was going to impact on my enjoyment of the game.

There were policemen on every corner, directing pedestrians and automobiles. "Officer, I just parked my car on the sidewalk in front of a private garage, a couple blocks north of here. Is that ok?". I knew how this sounded even as the words emerged.

"Are they still trying to pull that scam? No, your car will be ticketed and towed". Why was I less than shocked?

I left 2 of my buddies with their tickets, and began the walk back to retrieve the vehicle. My friend who accompanied me was discussing with me the possibility, or sanity, of asking for the $25 back. I did not imagine what was about to transpire.

"Excuse me. I just spoke with a cop who said there was no permitted parking on this sidewalk. He said the car would be ticketed and towed."

"Oh, I am sorry. I didn't know. Let me just give you back your money." Why was this so easy?

It turned out that while I was being addressed, it was not really me who was the intended recipient of this apology. To my complete surprise, the policeman who I had spoken with had followed close behind me on my walk to my car. The money, and the remorse, were apparent products of the man in blue.

As I pulled away and headed once more in search of the elusive place where I could rid myself of my vehicle, I told my friend that life was just made up of a series of stories and we had just created one of them. He nodded and laughed slightly. We both recognized that we had survived this long in life in spite of ourselves. I had no doubt that around the corner we would find yet another opportunity to display our limitations. The possibilities were endless.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Uncomfortable truths (or lies)

Two new books are being criticized today for the mere fact of being written. We have heard reports that the book on A-Rod by Selena Roberts reveals details of alleged use of performance enhancing drugs by the baseball superstar from his days in high school through to times with his present employer, the New York Yankees. In a not so veiled accusation, the Yankee manager, Joe Girardi took to the airwaves questioning the timing of this publication (it being moved up to coincide, not so coincidentally he implies, with the return of A-Rod from recent surgery) and also stating that there are parts of one's life that one's children should not be forced to hear about. It is the, 'I am not proud of everything I have done' argument for privacy.

Now, Maureen Dowd in her oped of May 6, 2009 discusses "A Complicated Question". Ms Dowd is openly critical of the decision of Elizabeth Edwards to write a book which is billed as intended to help people 'facing life's adversities and offering inspirational meditation on the gifts we can find'. To Ms. Dowd, it is just another unfortunate "gratuitous peek into their lives and one that exposes (Ms. Edwards) kids by peddling more dregs about their personal family life... and the ex girlfriend". She concludes that "the really complicated question is what she hopes to gain from this book".

Here is the short answer. Don't read the book if you don't feel it is worthy. Many in the public are fascinated by everything A-Rod and by the human tragedy of Elizabeth Edwards and the fall from grace of her husband. The subjects of these books are in the public eye and the truth, and possible mistruths, about them are not to be silenced because either one does not like or understand the message, or questions its veracity or necessity. It is not only the convenient truths that are allowed to get airtime. Read it, or don't read it, but don't challenge the right of the author to choose the timing or the content of their publication. Mr. Girardi and Ms. Dowd have to know better than that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A War of Attrition

It reminded me of the opening line of "The Cat in the Hat". It was indeed a cold, cold wet day.

I had circled this date on the calendar as soon as the tickets were ordered. 6 seats to a Yankee- Red Sox game. It would be a memorable evening. It was, but not quite as I had envisioned.

I was thrilled with the 'guest list' for the evening. I was to be in the company of both of my children. Enough said about what that means to me. Richie had invited one of his oldest and closest childhood friends, along with a friend of recent years. Alex had an old ski buddy joining us. I liked this crowd immensely, and the 'invitees' shared a love for my children and for baseball. What could go wrong?

Alex, Richie and I checked the weather forecast throughout the day, and monitored the Yankee website to make sure the game was going forward. The Yankees posted no 'warnings'. At 5:30, Joanne drove us across the bridge. We then took the local bus through the streets of Manhattan and the Bronx and arrived at the ballpark by 6:30. Perfect.

We entered the Stadium, as the misting drizzle continued. Surely, the Yankees had factored in the inclemency. The tarp was still on the infield. This game was not starting at 7:05.

The rest of our crew was coming from various environs. Laura hopped the subway from 125th Street and met us as we arrived. Julie had to take a train from Stamford, Connecticut. Keridy managed to leave her law firm and head uptown to the Stadium. By shortly after 7, we were all huddled together. We found some seats, took out the towels and the plastic coverings and hunkered down. While the players signed bats and balls, read their books, discussed their portfolios or called their friends, we waited. And waited, and waited.

There was not a hint from the Yankees as to when, or if, the game would begin. Sunday the game had been canceled after about a one hour rain delay. Not a pitch was thrown. At least those people got tickets to the makeup game. As it turned out, we would not be as lucky.

One would think that at a cost of $1.5 billion dollars, the Yankees could come up with a more sophisticated system of alerting the fans to the hows and whens of what was happening rather than merely showing a fake image of falling raindrops with the superimposed "Rain Delay" on top. It didn't take a genius to figure out that with no players on the field, and the tarp gathering moisture, there was not a baseball game occurring below us.

7 o'clock became 8 o'clock and then 8:30. The only certainty was that money was being expended in large sums by those gathered for food, drink and assorted 'unnecessities' in the various stores that sell everything Yankees. We could not take shelter in the many 'private' restaurants that ring the stadium, because the price of our tickets did not qualify us for entry into the inner sanctum. So, I bought my $9 Johnny Rockets hamburger, the $9 order of garlic fries (I think it was about $1 per fry), and tried to think about anything but how cold and damp it was.

Laura was the first to throw in the towel. Nearly 9:00, with no hint from those in the know as to whether the weather was ever moderating, she bid us a fond farewell in her British accent and Red Sox cap, and headed home. She had not seen a pitch, or even a player. One down and 5 to go.

Keridy had joined us years earlier for a similar experience. We sat through a long rain delay (which, if I recall correctly, did NOT include any rain but just the imminent threat) and wandered out, as Laura now did. Not this time, not again.

So, we stayed. Around 9:00, a cheer erupted as the ground crew emerged from the warmth and comfort into the night. I was too cold and tired to really care.

The official announcement was that there was a 2 hour and 17 minute rain delay before the game began. We forced ourselves to stay for 1 inning before we headed for the exits. It was now nearing 9:45 as we headed out of the Stadium, just minutes into a game that would ultimately be ending after 1 AM under drier conditions. Julie reluctantly said her goodbyes, as she had clearly hoped for more time to take in the good, now that she had experienced so much bad. Keridy, if truth be known, probably appreciated the fact that Richie, Alex and I had all given it up for the evening.

It was 10:30 before we got home. 5 hours of 'entertainment' and all I could think of was taking a hot shower to get the chill out of my bones, and then crawling into bed.

But, there is always another day and another game. As a matter of fact, I have 4 tickets for tonight's game against the Red Sox. I have already gotten 2 calls asking if we are heading to the Bronx. The forecast is almost a replica of last night's. My response to my friends is to tell them of course we are going. I can see there is a small window of moderation of the precipitation and I am sure the game will be played. Why would they even question me. You see, stupidity is my constant companion. See you at the ballpark.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weapons of Mass Destruction

I read, with much concern, today's report in the NY Times (Pakistani Strife Raises U.S. Doubts on Nuclear Arms). I have great faith in the honesty and integrity of the Obama administration. I have no reason to believe that this time around, the government is fabricating information to suit its own needs.

Yet, one can't help but be struck by how much the language in the article sounded like the weapons of mass destruction language, part 2. For example, we are now told that "keeping the country's nuclear infrastructure secure was the top priority", that the United States "does not know where all of Pakistan's nuclear sites are located", that "American officials are less willing to accept blanket assurances from Pakistan that the weapons are safe". We are advised that Pakistani officials continue to "deflect the American requests for more details about the location and security of the country's nuclear sites", calling the American concerns for the safety of the nuclear arsenal by the Americans as "overblown rhetoric", and dismissing our fears as "American paranoia".

I don't know about you, but does this not sound like a conversation that could have been pulled from the early Bush years in the ongoing dialogue with Iraq? We spent the past 8 years fighting a war of illusion while we have come closer and closer to nuclear disaster in Pakistan. This time around the threat appears real, imminent and a clear and present danger to the security of the region, and ultimately to our own country. That is the one and only true predicate for putting our soldiers in harms way in Pakistan, or anywhere else. Let's hope this time we have our facts right, and take appropriate steps to assure the continued safety of the arsenal, the country and the world at large.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The salesman

It was his first day on the job and he was a little nervous. He had been an overachiever throughout his life, and this was one more challenge that he knew he had to overcome. He understood how much was riding on this.

Like everything else he had undertaken, he tried to absorb as much information as possible. He didn't want to look foolish. One of his greatest strengths, he believed, was his preparation. There was an unmistakable drive about him. He had spent much of his life standing out from the crowd for all the right reasons. He had to do so once again, not only for his sake but for those who counted on him to succeed.

The enormity of the challenge failed to deter him. He knew that what he was able to do in this new job would have consequences. He was getting involved in an arena that many had already left for dead. How could anyone think there was enough breath left in it for something good to come out of something so bad? But he had no choice. The job had not come seeking him, he had been inevitably drawn to it.

At the breakfast table that morning, his wife had wished him luck. She had seen him perform his magic so many times through the years. Her confidence in him had certainly been a foundation for everything good that had happened. She was not one to dole out praise lightly and yet she had almost never wavered in her belief about him. Her quick squeeze of his hand and warm smile helped get him up out of his chair and ready for what lay ahead.

The children came over to get their morning hug and bounce out the door. They loved everything about their father and believed he could do no wrong. He held both of them tightly, told them to have a good day and watched as they hurried away. He knew it was time.

The economy was working against him. Everyone was fearful of what lay ahead. Pocketbooks had been shut. It was going to be his job to convince those who would listen that it was time to change their thinking. Yes, he understood all too well how they felt. But, what he was hawking was just too good to pass up. They would look back in future days and take pride that they stood up to their concerns. They would never regret their decision.

He went over the short prepared remarks that he had been working on. They would be captivated, they had to be.

He got out of the car and walked briskly into the building. He straightened his tie and jacket. He was ready.

He waved to a familiar face. He got a wave back, and a brief greeting. "Hello, Mr. President", the voice said. "Hello", he responded.

He began. "I want to thank all of you who are here today for my first day as a car salesman. As you know, I and all of you have became owners of one of the best automobile companies the world has ever known. I take pride in ownership, and I know you feel the same. I would not let you get in this brand new Chrylser/ Fiat unless I was convinced that you would be taken for the best ride of your life. Our journey is long and we all will be transported in safety and precision. We must all be drivers of this engine. We will all get to a brighter tomorrow only by taking this trip. I have kicked the tires, looked under the hood, driven around the block, and let me tell you, now is the time to buy. I will be here today and many tomorrows to make sure that little knocking sound is corrected, to smooth out the nicks and dents and to get you to your destination happier and in better shape than today. Let me open the floor for questions."

"Mr. President, thank you for your thoughtful words. I speak for everyone when I wish you only success in your new job. Can you please just tell us the miles per gallon we can expect to get as we begin our long trip back to prosperity"

He smiled briefly. He knew this was going to be a bumpy ride.