Monday, June 04, 2007

How I Met [REDACTED] Part I

I received a stern warning from a different third party after my last [REDACTED] update. Beyond the clear threat to myself and my computer equipment, I was told that posting the message was simply rude. It was rude, but [REDACTED] is a mysterious person, and he’s figured deeply in my psychology over the last fifteen years. I can't help myself. Always at the fringes of my life, he lingered as a specter of sagacity and veiled threat. Through this recent conflict with him, I’ve come to realize that I haven’t given all that much thought to how we met. It's a long story.

By the age of 21 I had achieved the first of many failures that would follow. The slow cycle of my life, minor successes trailed by less minor calamity, had just begun. I had yet to recognize the cycle for what it was and the lazy downward spiral path it led me on. During that year, still buoyed by youth and ignorance, I could shrug off my personal and professional collapses and easily move forward to seek out new personal and professional collapses. That is what I did when my house painting business came crashing down around me in an absurd tangle of both civil and criminal legal proceedings. That my ownership in the business ended in litigation should not have surprised me. It began in litigation. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Along the way I met [REDACTED].

While in college I took a job working for a franchise operation called College Pro painters. It was founded on a woefully misguided notion: That your run-of-the-mill college kid is better at slapping paint on a house than those who are truly meant for the work, Irish drunks. In a ven diagram of both college kids and Irish drunks, I was among those who sit squarely in the ellipses where the two circles overlap. So I was both a superior house painter to my more upwardly mobile peers, as well as aware of the scam at play.

The scam was this: dumb college kids bought painting supplies from the franchise company, ladders, scaffolding, brushes, scrapers, drop cloths and paint. All these materials were billed at a rate above the retail cost of such materials at Home Depot. The franchise company hoodwinked kids into buying in on the premise that it would cover all the surreptitious costs that leach onto any business, insurance and marketing. The marketing materials amounted to signs one could stake into the lawn of homes: “Another Bang-Up Job Completed by College Pro Painters.” I have doubts that the insurance coverage ever existed at all.

My boss on this job was an M.I.T. fraternity boy. Cruelly stupid for an M.I.T. kid and a protestant to boot, his family was among the growing legions of white trash WASPs that populate the Massachusetts coast line. Landed, but losing financial ground every day. Probably his Mom pinned her hopes for the family on his M.I.T. education, but his willingness to be suckered into the low-grade flim flam of College Pro painters didn’t bode well for his future. What’s more, he had no salesmanship skills, no gift for gab, his hands were ill suited to manual labor and he was a total tool. His name was something like William Roofer Plumber Paver Walker Stoner Blackstone IV.

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