Category Archives: Lessons Learned

I’m no longer a person – again

Once again, I’m back to being a non-person.

This is such a regular occurrence that I shouldn’t even bat an eye when it happens – again.

I have an older sibling who’s four years my senior. Just last Saturday, my sibling was buttering me up when wanting to borrow some cash for lunch (because that place is a cash-only establishment). I loaned the money and I was paid back later. No big deal. My sibling also wanted to borrow even more money, but I declined.

Interestingly, the next day, my sibling was no longer speaking to me – again. I don’t know what I had done wrong this time, but I mean, I’m again no longer a person. I’m back to being persona non grata. As I type this, it’s Wednesday night, meaning it’s been four days now of this silent treatment. I’m back to being invisible.

So, really, it’s nothing unusual because that’s how it seems with many people in society. When they want something, they butter you up. And when you’re no longer needed (this time), you’re kicked to the curb.

Just the other day, someone asked me rhetorically if I felt I was “childish” because I have a toy collection at home. I chose not to answer the question.

But being “childish”? I can say that the passive-aggressive approach employed by my sibling would count as that. And it is passive-aggressive behaviour, that’s for sure. There’s tension which can be felt. Yes, I’ve experienced this type of treatment from both my sibling and my father repeatedly over the years, so it shouldn’t affect me.

But I’m not a machine. I’m not AI. I’m not a robot. I’m a human being. A person.

Except when I’m treated like I’m not. Like I’m a non-person.

Now, when I was younger, did I ignore people? Yes, I often did in school. That was a time when I was extremely shy and afraid of talking to people. Did I offend anyone then? Yes, I’m sure I did. But again, at the time I was extremely afraid of talking to people.

When you’re older, you change. But some people don’t. I used to work at this school where there were two instructors who were like that. Now, keep in mind that we’re talking about grown adults who are educators. Let that sink in for a moment.

I was new at that school at the time. I said “Hi” to a math teacher whom I came across in the hallway. He stared at me without a word. Eventually, he returned the favour by saying “Hi” back, but the first few times were awkward. Then, there was this other teacher named Cicy. I said “Hi” when coming across her in the hallway. I was ignored. It happened a few times. Another time I was approaching the school building and saw her coming in my direction. I said “Hello” and was ignored.

Now, this Cicy was not shy because I’d seen her yapping it up with the school administrators and other teachers. So, I guess the question is this: Am I too much of a loser that people – in this case, Cicy – just don’t want to talk to? Again, let that one sink in for a moment: We’re talking about a grown adult who happens to be an educator. So, here’s yet another reason that I think teachers are overrated.

If this particular teacher had any issue with me, let’s discuss it. But this passive-aggressive nonsense is just silly. I often joked to myself that the “C” in the name of the school stood for “Clique” – It’s like this Cicy still thought she was in high school.

One time, I was told by a student who was from the same ethnicity with Cicy and the math teacher that in their country, if someone randomly said “Hi,” they would just walk away and thought the speaker was weird. Well, that’s fine. But hello? We’re in Canada. Besides, if you’re an educator and you’re behaving like that, well, I have to question your ability to teach and inspire kids.

Of course, how can you blame others for treating you like you’re invisible, like you’re a non-person, when you’ve received that kind of treatment from your own sibling and father? If family can do that, I guess that’s fair game by others. (Oh yeah, speaking of family, I heard that Cicy’s mother taught at a different location of that school, so I would guess that’s how Cicy got that job. Nepotism at its finest.)

There was one incident when Cicy brought her dog to school. My classroom happened to be across the hall from hers. My students were supposed to be focusing on their English 12 reading assignment, but they were too busy checking out Cicy’s dog across the hall. I closed the blinds but that didn’t work. Now, some peers will scoff and say that it proved I didn’t know how to teach. But the thing is, Cicy could have done something to help out the situation by maybe coming over to apologize and ask the students to focus in their class? This Cicy never even bothered to come and talk to me to acknowledge that her dog created some inconvenience for me.

So, okay, I collect toys. But the actions of this grown adult, this female teacher, should be considered even more “childish,” in my opinion.

And speaking of being “childish,” I can say that people who refuse to follow rules are childish. In some cases, they’re thieves. Recently, I took the bus (and, sure, some people will scoff and say “Serves you right for taking the bus,” but last time I checked, countless people use transit every single day) and sat at the back, where I witnessed this bald dude get on via the back door, did not pay (passengers are supposed to tap their Compass bus card on the system), and took a seat and proceeded to stick his knee out in the aisle during the duration of the ride in a way that would make Ulf Samuelsson proud (that’s a reference to the former Pittsburgh Penguins player who famously stuck his knee out and injured Boston Bruins star Cam Neely). And, oh, he didn’t wear a mask, even though for transit passengers in this city, it’s still mandatory to have a mask on.

So, you have this fellow who 1) didn’t pay (meaning he’s the equivalent of a thief), 2) didn’t wear a mask (a type of childish behaviour when we’re in the midst of a pandemic), and 3) stuck his knee out and was in the way of people who were trying to get to the back of the bus the entire ride.

I mean, at least this thieving fella wasn’t a teacher, I don’t think. But shame on people like Cicy and others who treat others like they’re invisible. And the sad thing is some of these people are teachers.

Oh yeah. This school that I referenced? I quit twice before and I was begged to return, so I did. However, I quit a third time recently – and I don’t think I’ll be back. If I wanted to be treated like I’m invisible, I could just hang out with family and get that.

Teachers who didn’t care

Last year when I spoke with Mark Langill, the LA Dodger historian, about advice for students aspiring to work for a sports organization, he recalled the time when his high school English teacher helped him by nominating him for the school newspaper:

Mark acknowledged he was very lucky.

Not everybody is, however.

In my own high school, there was no teacher like that. All I encountered were teachers who didn’t care. Or not enough.

At the time, I was shy and timid, afraid of speaking. I was often unhappy. Not one teacher ever pulled me aside to ask me if everything was okay. Not one.

After I graduated and then completed my first year of university, that summer I was looking to volunteer my time at the Neil Squire Foundation, to help people with disabilities learn to use the computer. I returned to my high school to ask some of my teachers for a reference. Two of them laughed and said, “Shouldn’t you be looking for a job instead?” It was obviously a harmless joke. Yet, for someone who didn’t have the highest amount of self-esteem at the time, being laughed at for wanting to do something positive was deflating. If I had completed eight weeks at Neil Squire, I would have received a certificate. I left after six weeks, not because I didn’t like it, but ultimately I let those teachers’ remark bother me (ie. I chose to interpret the comment to mean, “If you’re not chasing money, you’re behind everybody else and you’re a loser,” or something to that effect).

But I want to go back to English class specifically. It was Grade 8. I had just immigrated to Canada two years earlier and was new. In Dickson’s English 8 class, I scored the highest in the first term. I know that because Dickson, an older gentleman who had no sense of humour and was always very serious, read out all the marks for the class. He read out each person’s student number and percentage. I listened attentively and heard that my 83% was the highest. Nobody else got that or a mark higher than mine. To my utter disappointment, though, Dickson never acknowledged who had the highest mark (me) and also gave me a B, even though nobody else achieved a higher score.

So, on two levels, I was disappointed. Dickson did not acknowledge me. He also chose to grade us strictly by the book: 86% or higher would be A. Anything less would not be an A.

When you have teachers like Dickson who did nothing to support or encourage you, it is very deflating. None of the other English teachers I had after that — Comey, Comeau, and Borgen — cared either. Borgen was a funny dude, but he wasn’t caring.

I haven’t even talked about classmates yet. There’s a big deal about how there’s Asian hate crimes, etc. Not to dismiss any of that, but even Asians were bullying fellow Asians. There was an Asian classmate named Kenny. My name has the word “Kok” in it (and hence I’ve now shortened my name to KP), and Kenny and his Asian friends were mocking me once. (Once out of numerous times.) I’m Asian. Someone made a joke about my name, and Kenny said my dad’s name was probably “Dick” and my mom’s was likely “Vagina.” So, when you have fellow Asian classmates who treated you like crap and teachers who didn’t care, things were very difficult.

There was one teacher who was kind — although she wasn’t someone who actually taught me. She was a teacher in the school but I never had classes with her. She might have seen my career interest questionnaire results and thought that I really wanted to be an accountant. (I didn’t.) I don’t know why she assumed I wanted to be an accountant, but I never told her that I didn’t want to. She approached me and started giving me advice on how to pursue that.

Our school counsellor was also caring. But again, she wasn’t my teacher whom I saw every day.

So, even though I’m a teacher myself right now, anytime anyone asks me about teachers, I give the straight answer — based on my own experience: Teachers care only about themselves.

Unfortunately, that’s true. At least based what I have personally experienced.

Life Lessons #003: People I’ll Stay Away From—Negative Individuals and Salespeople 

Some time ago, a friend tweeted a comment about how people continued to have large gatherings in the midst of a global pandemic. The context was that some people were being selfish and cared only about themselves. 

That was an appropriate tweet because, after all, a global pandemic was going on and people weren’t doing things that were best for others around them. 

But a friend of that particular friend tweeted this doozy of a reply to that original tweet:

Some of these people should ask their grandparents what it was like to shelter in place for 4 or 5 years or risk having a bomb drop on their ass. No internet. No skip the dishes [sic]. No amazon [sic]. No TV. Just a little radio if they were lucky. So spoiled and its [sic] still not enough.

Huh?!? What an irresponsible tweet. This friend of a friend was essentially hating on people who used the products or services offered by SkipTheDishes or Amazon, and also calling people who have the convenience of the Internet being spoiled? Huh?!?

What happens quite often is people (such as the person who posted that response to the original tweet) just have this negativity that sucks the life out of others. The original post was talking about selfish individuals who do irresponsible things in the middle of a global pandemic. Suddenly, according to the second person, using the Internet is being spoiled? Say, ordering food because one doesn’t have time to cook or leave to get food (because he or she is busy with work) is spoiled?? Say, ordering things from Amazon—which I did recently because my manager asked me to pick up SD cards and an SD driver to be able to complete some work-related tasks and the fastest way for me to get those items was through Amazon—makes a person spoiled? 

What also happens quite often is people just label others because of their actions. This second person did that by essentially calling those who use SkipTheDishes, Amazon, and the Internet “spoiled.” 

It’s too bad that it’s so easy to use your thumbs to type garbage on your phone (oh, which, by the way, requires the Internet for that tweet to be sent) without using your brain to realize that such a comment is insulting to those around you. 

(This friend of a friend is someone whom I have interacted with multiple times in person. Although he’s also a sports fan and is aware that I’m an author, he has never once congratulated me about my books or even asked about them. I would avoid people who do not cheer about your successes, too.)

Speaking of having advantages in today’s modern world, I recently took a Lyft because I needed to get to work by 8:00 a.m. and I didn’t want to drive and also transit wasn’t available that early in the day because it was a holiday. I’m guessing that commenter would label me as being “spoiled.” But I digress. 

I’m a busy person with work and other projects going on, and that wasn’t the first time I took a Lyft and it won’t be the last. 

That morning, the driver was particularly chatty—he’s a very charming person and a natural salesperson—and he gave me a card saying he could advise me on certain things because we shared some common interests. I took him up on the offer and reached out later on. 

Of course I should have realized he wanted to pitch me his non-Lyft-related services. I just didn’t realize that before. I don’t necessarily label people and I didn’t think of the Lyft driver as wanting to be a salesperson to me. I thought he just wanted to network for the purposes of making new friends. 

Anyway, to make a long story short, I was making a bid to purchase an item and he wanted to advise me on that. I ultimately ended up losing out on the bid because I didn’t offer a high enough price. That’s life. I accept that. 

The Lyft driver reached back out on an evening when I was having some difficulty related to family issues. I was distracted because of that and I mentioned it. He dismissed what I was saying and trivialized it, saying, “Join the club,” without really listening to what I had to say. He was also being very corporate by pitching me his services. I responded I was “distraught” and he asked why I would be since he would help me through the process of using his services. I explained I was referring to the family situation and he again trivialized it. Very corporate. It was obvious all he cared about was pitching me his services—and not what I was feeling that particular evening.

A few days passed and he asked me if I knew what the winning bid was for the aforementioned failed potential purchase. I responded with the price and added, “I should have bid higher instead.” It was just a comment added on to the question he had asked me. Nothing more. I didn’t dwell on it. I don’t have time to do that. I simply made the comment “I should have bid higher instead” after mentioning the amount of the winning bid. 

However, he then went on a lecture about how we shouldn’t “second guess” ourselves by talking about “should have.” I explained immediately that I wasn’t second guessing myself but just making a comment. Instead of letting it go then, the Lyft driver went on and on about how second guessing yourself is unhealthy (when that wasn’t even what I was doing) and proceeded to give a lecture about “could have” and “should have” over and over again. 

Well, when I was talking about a family issue, he trivialized it. When I was answering his question about the winning bid and I added a personal comment, he took those two words “should have” and became a lawyer and kept talking and talking about the “should have” comment and dissecting it—even though I was not second guessing myself whatsoever. 

Essentially, you can’t have a conversation (not a tweet, but a conversation) without someone picking apart your words and telling you what you’re thinking, the way the Lyft driver was doing with me, even though I specifically told him he had misinterpreted my comment. 

Serves me right. That person who tweeted that using services that are convenient in your life means you’re “spoiled.” I guess it serves me right for using Lyft.

Anyway, that was one of the last times I communicated with the Lyft driver. I guess I’m not interested in socializing with those who just want to pitch me things instead of developing a genuine friendship. Those who just want to sell me things—I call this being “corporate”—instead of genuinely wanting to be a member of my personal board of directors and give advice without any strings attached.    

The final straw came when Mr. Lyft/Salesman texted me to see how I was and also (once again) about offering his services. I responded immediately with “not well.” There was no follow-up from him for days, which told me all I needed to know.

So, a few days later, I called him out for treating me like I was persona non grata. I explained he was too “corporate” and that, to me, it was obvious he cared about making a sale instead of building a friendship. He said he didn’t understand—and that in his 40+ years of being in the business, he’d never heard of that expression of “being too corporate.” I explained his tactics came across, to me, as something a salesperson would do. 

Just to give an example (which I didn’t provide for Mr. Lyft), I’ve been in contact with an executive at McDonald’s corporate office to give feedback about the McDonald’s app. The exec knows me enough to know what kind of things I like to talk about. In our most recent phone call, he called and began the conversation by telling me an anecdote of how he had been in Utah and came across former baseball star Jose Canseco—and even had a chance to interact with the one-time American League MVP. That sort of small talk warms me up. At least the McDonald’s exec knows me enough to know I enjoy talking about or listening to stories like that. Then, we got to the “shop talk” about the app.

On the other hand, a guy like Mr. Lyft just begins every conversation with pitching his services and not caring that I wasn’t feeling well. At least say something like, “Hey, I see you’re not doing okay. Anything I can do to help you out, like pick up something on the way for you?” I would say “No, thanks,” in that scenario, but Mr. Lyft isn’t even “human” enough to say these things. He’s too corporate. All he cares to talk about is business or “shop talk.” 

Mr. Lyft even said to me that he thought my priority was making a purchase of the aforementioned item. I responded with, “Excuse me? Do you really think that a person who says he’s having some difficulties puts that as a priority?” To me, that shows he’s a salesperson. 

He countered with examples of how he helped me recently—he made a point of stating the three examples one by one—to which I said, “Do you actually keep such detailed scores of times when you help others?” I mean, okay, I don’t go around throwing that into people’s faces, like, “Hey, you know something? *I* helped you do THIS, THIS, and THIS…” You don’t throw that into people’s faces.   

To me, his actions show me Mr. Lyft is a salesperson. I would stay away from such individuals. 

Life Lessons #001: Peers around me care only about celebrities

Well, I’m going to try and write down my thoughts and life lessons learned through interactions with those around me.

In the city where I currently live, the sports radio market has taken a hit over the past few years. It really doesn’t and shouldn’t come as a surprise if you consider how the radio industry has gone — in fact, when I interviewed a radio veteran from Southern California back in 2019, he said the radio market, regardless of what city you’re in, is on the downside and has been for a while. He should know. And I do believe what he said.

Now, when the local sports radio market made massive changes over the past couple of years, radio veterans in the city and listeners all seem to be caught off guard. Well, I don’t think it should come as a surprise if you stop and think about the trends. But I digress. My point is fans were outraged and attacked the corporations which made the decisions — without realizing these types of firings occur in other industries without much fanfare. Without people caring.

Back in 2016, I was teaching mainly in the late afternoons and evenings so that I would have time to write during the daytime. One day, an acquaintance told me that a school downtown was hiring for substitutes and encouraged me to contact the director, Simon. I did. Long story short, Simon hired me that March to be a regular instructor. One month later, he pulled a dick move by hiring a friend’s friend and told me he was firing me, effective that afternoon. It was a Friday afternoon.

I was stunned. Simon then threw in the kicker: Another teacher was taking two weeks off in May and Simon wanted me to cover those two weeks as a substitute. Talk about a dick move. He hired a friend’s friend to take over my position, and then had the audacity to ask me to be a substitute for two weeks for another teacher. Being a gentleman, I accepted (not that I needed that job, but I was being professional and kind).

When I told peers that I had gotten fired, all of my peers virtually acted like they didn’t care. It was all, “Uhm, thanks for sharing that, but I’m actually busy and can’t listen to this story” or “Okay, I’ve heard enough and I know where this story is going…” That’s how peers reacted. What, just because I’m not a radio person with a cool job that people think it’s not outrageous how I was treated? Is it like, say, a radio personality’s job is way more important than a teacher’s?

I soon realized why Simon did this. I was called in virtually every week after those two weeks filling in. One Thursday it would be a different teacher having a dentist appointment and I would be called in. The next Monday it was someone else who had a doctor’s appointment. The next Wednesday it was something else. I literally filled in every week from May to the end of August.

So that’s why Simon fired me — he knew I didn’t need the job and that I would be reliable to come in as a substitute on short notice. But I wasn’t prepared for the next incident.

He called me into his office on one of the days I was substituting. He said they were having a TYCP course starting the next month, and he needed me. I made the arrangements to have time off and be ready for that course. All along, he assured me the class was happening. Then, the Friday before the class was to begin, he texted me to say the class was cancelled. They originally had four students signed up, according to Simon, but now it was zero because everyone dropped out.

No big deal. The funny thing was that the following Tuesday, another teacher was sick and I was asked to fill in. I came in and looked at the noticeboard. I was filling in for Riley’s class. Then my eyes suddenly noticed a TYCP course on the noticeboard, with the names of four students and the assigned teacher, Monica, someone they had just hired. (Obviously, having been there every week as a substitute, I knew everyone there, and when I saw this new face, I went up to introduce myself — and Monica acknowledged she’d just been hired.)

So, Simon was a liar. That’s, again, something I would tell my peers … but then again, since I’m no radio personality or famous person, my peers wouldn’t care. So I didn’t bother sharing this incident with them.

But c’mon. What kind of boss does that? If he had been man enough to say, “Okay, I actually decided to hire someone else to take that class, so, sorry I have to say I can’t use you,” then it would have been fine. But to lie to me and say there was suddenly zero enrollment. What a gutless dick.

I would think these things happen in other industries. They happen without much fanfare. And, of course, if I discuss this, peers would think I’m bitter (I’m not). Or that I’m disgruntled, etc. etc. Of course, when these things happen in the radio industry, people are ready to attack those corporations.

Go figure. Lesson here? People around me — my peers, that is — don’t care about me. They care about celebrities and others in high-profile occupations. My job, in their eyes, is nothing. My story, for them, is not worth hearing about.

I get it. And I accept it.

Today in Knuckleball History: June 21, 1997

Candiotti Throws Seven Shutout Innings as Emergency Replacement

June 21, 1997

Los Angeles Dodgers 11, San Francisco Giants 0 At 3Com Park

Tom Candiotti:  7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO.

So that’s why the Dodgers kept Tom Candiotti around. As insurance, just in case one of their starters went down.

Sent to the bullpen to begin the season, Candiotti finally made his first start of the year, filling in for injured starter Ramon Martinez, who’d complained the night before about a sore right shoulder. The knuckleballer responded by flummoxing the San Francisco Giants for seven shutout innings, lifting the Dodgers to an 11-0 victory over their arch rivals.

Candiotti had been sent to the bullpen because of the emergence of right-hander Chan Ho Park, who joined a Los Angeles rotation which already included Martinez, Hideo Nomo, Ismael Valdez, and Pedro Astacio—a pitching staff that was second in the majors only to the Atlanta Braves’ staff headed by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz. 

Although Candiotti, with 126 wins and a 3.53 ERA in his 13 big-league seasons entering 1997, was rumored to be traded all spring, Dodger general manager Fred Claire hung on to the knuckleballer, and it proved to be the right decision. 

Through June 10, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, Candiotti had three wins and a 2.03 ERA in 22 games, with five walks and 18 strikeouts, holding opposing hitters to a .212 average. 

Then, on this Saturday afternoon, he held the Giants to just four hits in seven innings as the Dodgers bounced back from a 5-2 loss in the series opener on Thursday and a blown 7-0 lead on Friday night—a game which saw L.A. use six pitchers. Candiotti even delivered at the plate, driving in the Dodgers’ sixth run on a squeeze bunt. The other Dodger heroes offensively were Raul Mondesi, who smacked an RBI triple and two-run single, and Tripp Cromer, who had three hits and three RBIs.

Candiotti and the Dodgers expected this would be his only start, as Ramon Martinez was expected to return after skipping just this start. As it turned out, though, Martinez’s injury was revealed to be a torn rotator cuff, and the Dodger ace would be sidelined for two months.   

Although the Dodgers did not win the division in 1997, losing out to the Giants by two games, Candiotti did do the job for L.A., going 6-2 with a 3.62 ERA in 11 starts during Martinez’s absence. It should have been at least seven wins; he nearly beat San Francisco again on July 12, handing the bullpen a 2-1 lead only to see the Giants rip two relievers for seven runs in the ninth. 

Candiotti pitched well enough as a starter that when Martinez did return in August, the Dodgers dealt fourth starter Astacio (4-8 with a 5.19 ERA over a three-month stretch) to Colorado for second baseman Eric Young while keeping the knuckleballer in the rotation for the rest of the 1997 season.

A free agent after the season—he signed with the Oakland Athletics in the off-season—Candiotti would finish his six-year Dodger career with a 3.57 ERA but just a 52-64 record, thanks primarily to a paucity of run support. No Los Angeles pitcher with an ERA as low as Candiotti’s had a lower winning percentage than his .448 in a Dodger uniform. (It should be noted that Ramon Martinez, who received much better support from the Dodgers, was 72-48 with a 3.67 ERA during that same stretch. In 1995, for instance, Martinez was 17-7 with a 3.66 ERA and a league-leading 81 walks and 138 strikeouts over 206.1 innings. Candiotti, perhaps L.A.’s unluckiest pitcher ever, was 7-14 with a 3.50 ERA in 190.1 innings with 58 walks and 141 strikeouts.)

But, as Charlie Hough often told other knuckleballers, “When the other guys get hurt or don’t pitch well, be there when they need someone.” And that’s exactly what Candiotti did for the Dodgers in 1997.