Bad Dog!

One Friday night my dog, Pete, started whimpering.

“I am not making you pudding!” I’d had a long day, and it was nearly 11:00 pm.

He persisted so I went to the pantry and pulled out the vanilla pudding mix. He cried again until I went back and grabbed the butterscotch pack. I went to the refrigerator and saw that we were out of milk.

I said “Sorry Pete, I can’t make the pudding…ah!!! Don’t look at me like that!! D & W is closed, I am NOT driving all the way to Meijer!”

Closeup Picture of Dog's face white fur with brown spots

Puppy Dog Eyes

He lifted his leg on the couch so I handed him the keys to my Accord. He put out his paw again. “I don’t have any money! You’re going to have use my Visa card.”

I waited for a few minutes, but decided to go to bed. I woke up at 4:30 am and went downstairs and looked all over for Pete, but I couldn’t find him. I looked outside and the car was still gone.

Frantic, I called the police. “Well… he’s about 2 feet tall. Uh, brown eyes. White hair, with brown spots, his tail is…Excuse me? Yes, he has a tail…uh, never mind I’ll find him myself.”

Lori and I got in to the Civic and drove a grid pattern over Kent County for hours and hours.  At about 10:00 pm that night we found the car crashed into a light pole downtown. There was an empty six pack of Michelob Ultra’s in the back seat. I was furious.

With Pete’s picture in hand, we questioned the merchants and patrons downtown for any leads in finding him. After a few hours we spoke to a bartender who had seen him. “Yeah, he was here. He bought drinks for everybody all night. He ran up a $650 bill then tipped me $150 dollars. Then he left with a woman who dances at the, uh… gentleman’s club around the corner.”

He pointed us toward the club and we headed in. We found Pete, passed out, at a table, near the stage, where a woman was dancing around a pole. A drool-sopped Visa bill was on the table was under Pete’s jaw. I lifted Pete’s head and saw the total-another $400, nearly $150 for lap dances. I screamed. He was jolted awake.

“Pete! Bad dog!!! How could you do this?!? We’ve been worried sick about you! We thought you’d been hurt. How many times have I said no beer in the car?!? You wrecked my car and I know the insurance company won’t pay for a car that was totaled by a drunk beagle-mutt. Then, you go out and spend $1,000 on drinks for strangers!. And $150 for lap dances….you don’t even have a lap! This is terrible, you’ve never done anything like this before!”

“I’ve never had the money before” he said.


(Full disclosure: the punchline is not mine. I’ve heard several versions this type of joke. I heard a version on a radio show (circa 2000) and I looked into it a bit, but have not determined its origin, though I know that Soupy Sales did a version of the joke on one of his TV series.)

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Cold Call

“Hi, This Is Scott”

In the go-go period of 1995-1999 (the Dot.Com era) everybody was in a hurry  to do something “internety”  Salaries were inflated and an incalculable number of companies sprouted up and their only value proposition is that they had “I,” or “E” (for internet, and electronic, respectively) and created a web site. 

That time was a gold rush for recruiters. Thus, I received many phone calls that I didn’t have time for, and/or had no interest in. In 1996, my office phone did not have caller ID, so I had no way of screening outside calls.

One day I received a call from a recruiter, about a position in the Chicago suburbs. 

I told her that I lived in the city,  and was not at all interested in commuting to the suburbs. I told her I didn’t think I’d be a fit for the job based on that alone.  

Though I agreed to send her a résumé. I would soon regret that decision.

“Have You Heard of McDonald’s?”

She called back a couple of days later. She seemed out of breath as she began telling me about the greatest job in the history of our solar system. 

Less than two minutes in, I told her that I wasn’t interested. 

I reminded her that I lived in the city, and didn’t have a car, and had no  interest in buying a car. Thus, I was not interested in talking further. 

The recruiter wanted to keep talking anyway, and she did. I learned the position was with an advertising agency, that   “has been in business for 30 years.”

I already worked at an ad agency (that had been in business for 100 years). I told her I didn’t want to pursue opportunities in other agencies.

“I am not interested……” I said….again.

She interjected “They have one client, but it’s a huge one. ”

One account? My interest dropped from “Very Little” and dropped to ” zero.”

She added “Have you heard of McDonald’s?”

Hmm…moving on to condescension? Didn’t seem like a particularly solid technique to win over a prospective candidate.

 “McDonald’s: that’s their client. For 30 years! The company ‘does the work’ for their Monopoly game. They loved your résumé and are very interested in talking to you.”

 “Does the work”? What the hell?

That could mean anything: printing, graphic design, media buys, strategy, etc. and maybe even something internety. 

I must admit, the M-word (McDonald’s) did cause me to pause for a moment. Like many people my age, I had fond memories of McDonald’s:

I almost asked her to elaborate, then I had a feeling in my gut. A queasy feeling, like the time that I got sick at football practice shortly after I’d eaten 4 Quarter Pounders on a dare.

I didn’t know if this was a gut instinct, or a Pavlovian flashback. I concluded  it was the former.  There  was no force on Earth would make me interested in that position. There was too much risk, and a Super-Sized  serving of inconvenience.

“I Knew You’d Be Perfect”

I said, “It doesn’t matter who the account is. I don’t plan to work for a company with only one customer. My current company had a client for 75 years and they lost it last year. Furthermore, I don’t want to work in the suburbs. I don’t even have a car.”

“Well, you could  JUST  buy a car?”

“I don’t want a car. There are many reasons why I got rid of my car. I’d be happy if I never had a car again.”

“Well, you could JUST take a train.”


The location wasn’t near a commuter rail station. The would involve several bus transfers; therefore a lot of time. I reiterated that I wasn’t interested. 

She was getting exasperated, and said, “But they loved your resume and  want to know how soon you could start.”

WHAT?!? That was the second time she said she had shared my résumé. It didn’t register with me the first time. On the second occasion it did. 

“You shared my résumé?!? Why did you do that?!? And who makes decision to hire people without an interview?” I asked, in a whisper-shout.

She replied, “I knew you’d be perfect. And I’m sure that they’ll make it worth your while to commute out there. Or you could just buy a house near their office. They have a big budget for this job, you could probably buy a nice house…”

“JUST” again.

“OK, This is Your Loss”

I was way past done. With every fiber of my being, I tried to restrain myself as I reiterated all of my key points: I didn’t want to commute to, or move to, the suburbs. I didn’t want to buy a car, or spend hours on commute trains and buses. 

She tried her money line again, “But, they’ve had the McDonald’s business for 30 years, and…”

After some effort, I was finally able to convince her that I wasn’t interested. She signed off with a disdainful “OK. This is your loss. Bye.” There was a bit F-U! in her voice.

Across the Pond

I didn’t think much of  the conversation years until  after I’d moved to Michigan. I learned on TV news of a high-profile scandal involving the McDonald’s Monopoly game.  Some of of their promotional agencies were axed.

I was glad that I had gone with my gut. I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one McMuffin.

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The Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon, where a large number of people share a recollection of an event that did not actually occur, or their recollection is somewhat (perhaps substantially) different from the facts of the actual event.

The term “Mandela Effect” was coined by a paranormal researcher, Fiona Broome, who had vivid memories that anti-Apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela had died in prison during the 1980s. Broome’s recollection of Mandela was shared by a number of other people. 

In reality, Mandela was released from prison in 1990, and he became President of South Africa in 1994. In 2013, Mandela died at his home following a lengthy illness.

Broome and others, have speculated that because there are often numerous people who share alternative memories of an event’s facts that this suggests the existence of parallel universes. Furthermore, that people might be remembering events that actually occurred in an alternate reality.

I have my own thoughts on the Mandela Effect, sadly none are as glamorous as a “Multiverse of Madness” (yes, a reference to Marvel’s recent Dr. Strange movie), or the famous “Mirror, Mirror” episode of Star Trek. 

Here  are some common Mandela Effect examples. I think many of them are of low consequence. Does it really matter if people remember watching “The Flinstones” as opposed to the “The Flintstones?”

Others  have easy explanations. For example the lyrics to Queen’s “We Are The Champions” is notable, because it does, and doesn’t, contain “…of the world,” at the end of the song.  

Musical performers often modify their hits songs when performing  in a live audience context. While album version ends with “we are the champions,” the band’s memorable performance at Live Aid added “…of the world” to the song’s end. 

Did any of the examples from The Parade article surprise you?

Do you have examples of the Mandela Effect (…false memory syndrome, or groupthink) in your work, or elsewhere in your life?


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Performance Review

A few months ago, I pondered the type of projects I was going to pursue next. 

After much deliberation, I decided that, for now, one of the best ways I could serve my community would be to help alleviate the staffing shortages in our schools.

When my paperwork was finally approved, I stared at the available assignments with some  trepidation.

Eventually, I clicked the “Accept” button for a 1-day assignment as a 5th-grade science teacher in a neighboring school district.

Since then, I’ve worked in four other districts–pre-K, high school, middle school–across myriad income levels, so that teachers can: go to the dentist, celebrate their birthday, take their child to the doctor, attend an IEP meeting, or recover from Covid.

The jobs are never quite the same and are often extremely different from one day to the next. Nearly every day begins with an encounter with  imposter syndrome.

However,  the feedback, from the students has given me an incredible boost. I’ve shared some below.

After I’d  covered her class for 30 minutes–while her teacher was in a meeting–a 2nd-grader wrote me a note:

“Thank you for being the best sub ever. “

A middle schooler said to me (30 seconds into a conversation):

“What?!? You’ve read the book ‘Jurassic Park?’ I’m already your biggest fan, ever!”

A 5th-grader walked up to my desk on his way to his next class, and offered:

“You’re a good sub., but you need to be more strict.”

A high school junior wrote this:

“Dear Mr. Smith, I’d love to thank you for subbing in my class. We may be wild, but we mean well. You’re a great and funny man. I like the way you say ‘ya’ll.’ It reminds me of a cowboy movie. “

These are among the best performance reviews I’ve ever had.

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