Category Archives: Life
The life of a writer
When you’re writing a book, you don’t get to see the final product until months, if not years, later — particularly when you’re working with a traditional publisher.
Just last month — December 2021 — I received a request by my publisher for my sports careers book to edit my manuscript. The contract had stated I was to submit a manuscript with 90,000 words, but I had sent in one with more than 160,000 words, which was well over the maximum number of words the publisher wanted to see.
Of course, it’s easy for an observer to say, “Well, just cut the book in half and then do a second volume.” It doesn’t work like that. That brings me to the following point: I’ve seen reviewers on Amazon criticize fellow sports authors for not including certain information in their book, etc. without realizing that often times publishers dictate some of these things. From personal experience, I know that in my 1988 Dodger book, I had a section with the aftermath of the Mets and A’s, but the publisher said to get rid of all that. Even photos, too. Some reviewers will mock fellow sports authors for being too “cheap” to put photos in the book without realizing sometimes the costs are massive. To give a personal example, one professional sports franchise wanted to charge me $1,000 per image to use in my book, so I said no and went elsewhere.
Anyway, getting back to my Christmas “break” in December 2021, it wasn’t much of a break. My publisher contacted me on Dec. 20th and wanted me to cut the 160,000 words to 90,000-100,000 max. And they were expecting me to have this done by Dec. 29th.
So, every day I worked on this bit by bit, cutting out massive chunks of content. In the background, I had MLB Network on for a distraction here and there. (Now, not to go off on a tangent, but MLB Network during the off-season is awful. I literally charted this and noticed the programs just kept repeating themselves. For example, the Billy Martin documentary would air on a Tuesday at multiple times and then re-air on Saturday and again the following week on two different days. Same with the Johnny Bench, 1988 Dodgers, Randy Johnson, etc. documentaries. They would air it on a Thursday at multiple times, and then repeat the same documentary the following Monday and then Friday, and then the following week again.)
When I cut out 500 words from one chapter, I considered it a major victory, only to realize that it didn’t move the goalpost much, so to speak. In a few chapters, I literally cut out half of the content, making sure things still flowed. I did this every single day, staying up past 1 am some nights. Finally, on the night of Dec. 28, I kept going at it until past 1:30 am, and completed all these cuts and managed to have the manuscript at roughly 108,000.
Since the due date for these cuts was Dec. 29, and the publisher worked on the East Coast (while I’m out west, three hours behind), I knew I would not have any significant changes on Dec. 29 itself. So, at 2 am, I submitted everything by email and then went off to bed.
But it was a difficult week, editing my work and going hours and hours at it, all the way until the night of Dec. 28 and finishing just before 2 am (on Dec. 29). It was tough.
After that, I took some time off writing. Even now, in mid-January, I’m still not doing any writing. It’s tough to stay motivated, so to speak, or have that drive to keep going — especially after that final week in December.
It’s tough, especially when there isn’t a lot of support from peers and others around me. In fact, I’ll say almost none.
I can recall the time when I was writing the 1988 Dodger book, and someone I considered a friend responded in a patronizing tone “So what?” when I was discussing the fact that it was the 30th anniversary of the Dodgers’ championship season. This was from a sports fan. When I chose to be upset because of his comment, he disowned me as a friend. He no longer responds to my calls and texts.
There was a guy, Rod, who basically is a troll. I was explaining that I was heading to LA for a charity golf event, and I was invited by the former GM of the Dodgers. It was like an extension of the book that I had written, having a chance to be introduced to some of those former players. Rod scoffed and said those peple were just using me and just wanted me to donate my own money, etc. etc. Very negative comments. Why are people so negative?
During the process of writing the sports careers book, numerous people whom I reached out to chose not to respond. For professional purposes where people don’t respond, that’s very deflating and demotivating. It’s changed me in the sense that I find it difficult to stay motivated — it’s like people are cancelling me or don’t want me to succeed, FOR A BOOK AIMED TO HELP YOUNG PEOPLE!! Hello? Do people want to see my book fail? One that’s aimed to help students and others looking for a career in sports business?
Then, there was a publisher from Montana who asked me to write a book about baseball cards, and that publisher then bailed on me. He said he would connect me with others in the industry, and when I responded the same day via email, he completely ignored my email and follow-ups. Why do people do that?
So, I’m tired. I’m sick. If you’re getting an email or request from me — and follow-ups — and it’s for a professional purpose, and you’re choosing to ignore it, then I’m going to say you want me to fail. You don’t care about helping people. That’s very unfortunate. But I guess that’s what a lot of people are like.
Yes, there were some great moments along the way. But the bad ones stick out. Those make me question humankind.
And before we leave this subject, peers who are posting garbage like “This is why I NEVER buy anything from Amazon” and similar posts with a story about what Amazon has done wrong, etc., again, these people are simply wishing for me (and other writers) to fail, particularly when authors rely on Amazon for book sales. So, do these peers really wat me to fail?
Finally, podcasters: I’m grateful to go on a podcast, but it’s painful when hosts don’t take the time to do some prep. There was a podcaster whom I got to know. He had me on to talk about my John Cangelosi book but didn’t know how to pronounce the former MLB outfielder’s last name. I told him off-air and also said it on-air, and the podcaster kept butchering the name throughout. Like, do you think I would be proud to share this with others? How do you think John would feel if he hears this?
Anyway, we’ll see when I decide to get back into writing again. Maybe if people don’t want to talk to me or respond to me, I’ll do what a former 1986 Montreal Canadien Cup champion told me (very abruptly): “Why are you asking me what the coach said in the locker room [prior to a key Game Seven which the team actually won]? Go Google that s@%£!”
Yup, I guess I’ll just go Google that s@%£ if I choose to write again — if I get ignored by people whom I reach out to.
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 #002: Teamwork in companies — not wanted by managers
I used to work in an advertising company in the Greater Vancouver, Canada, area. I started out in the customer service department before moving into the training department and got a nice trip to the Philippines out of it.
But what I would like to address in this post is the fact that “teamwork” is not wanted by managers.
At this company, the customer service department was managed by someone named Kiran. He was a bright guy, charming, and ambitious. He was the one who hired me, and we got along very well initially because he recognized my work ethic and ideas. I was helpful and professional when dealing with customer service issues. I did a great job for him.
Eventually, I realized he was more interested in building cliques in the office and he treated me as someone who could solve his problems and help him look good — but I was never one of “them.” I was always an outsider and was kept around only because I worked hard and I worked smart, and I got work done and solved his problems. That’s what bosses want.
There are many stories about the cliques, which I’ll save for another time, but for now I’ll talk about the one in which he was a manager who didn’t believe in teamwork.
One day, a manager from the sales department came into the customer service department to talk to Livia, one of the customer service reps. Apparently, Livia had not shown proper etiquette while on the phone speaking to a client, and the sales department manager came in to discuss this with Livia.
At that time, there was only myself and Livia in the room when the sales manager came in. I didn’t think much about what the sales manager said, because it sounded like good advice and something valuable to learn from. I’d worked previously for St. John Ambulance in their customer service department, and we (ie. that department) used to receive all sorts of helpful suggestions from other managers in the organization.
Back to this advertising company… like I said, I didn’t think much about it other than just some friendly advice. But after the sales manager left, Livia (who was hired the same time I was) threw a hissy fit. She didn’t like to be told what to do. I tried to calm Livia down by giving her a pep talk. I said just treat it like it’s constructive criticism. As I was finishing my talk, Kiran walked in. Livia, naturally, complained to Kiran about what had happened. I interjected and said I tried to calm Livia down by saying for her to take it like constructive criticism and move on from that.
Kiran, to my surprise, said, “No, DON’T take it.” He had a scowl on his face and was agitated. I was surprised because Kiran’s role was manager and he wasn’t acting like one. He wasn’t even in the room to witness the incident and was quick to make his own judgement based on what Livia said. Okay, perhaps there’s some history between him and the sales department that I didn’t know about, but still…
Kiran then proceeded to say that NO OTHER department is to come into our department and tell us what to do and what not to do. He even added that if anybody from another department came in and wanted us to do something, ie. help out with anything, say no. Just make an excuse not to do it, ie. We’re busy, etc. etc. etc. And if you offered or volunteered to help out another department, and somehow ran into difficulties, that would be your own fault and Kiran himself wasn’t ever going to bail you out of such a mess. Livia was happy that Kiran had her back.
But think about that last part for a moment: So, we’re all in the same organization/company and we’re supposed to “hate” other departments and not work together? Sadly, Kiran wasn’t the only manager to say this. I’ve heard this sort of instruction from other organizations I’ve worked for, too: Do not agree to help another department when they come asking for help.
I would like to believe that this is stuff you probably just see in movies or TV dramas, but it actually happens in real life too, which is very unfortunate.
With that same company, it was about a year later when there was a business trip to the Philippines, and I was one of the staffers requested to make the trip. I didn’t want to go, but I was told I had to go.
To make a long story short, by that time I had been promoted and was no longer in Kiran’s department, but I was still reporting to him, ie. he was still my immediate manager. During this trip, each department was supposed to put together some sort of performance for the clients. I was not involved in the performance part of the trip, but, again, I was with Kiran’s group.
There was a list with the order in which each department was to do its performance. The company’s Director of Operations, Hillary, asked me to let Kiran know that she wanted the order of the performances changed, which impacted Kiran’s group. (I don’t remember exactly now, but Kiran’s group was supposed to go later than scheduled.) Okay, so I went to Kiran and relayed the message. Kiran snapped and said something to the effect that I’m on his team, not Team Hillary. If I wanted to be on Team Hillary, I might as well not be on his team. I was taken aback and tried to explain I was just relaying the message, but that fell on deaf ears.
I didn’t think anything of it at that immediate moment, but Kiran essentially was done with me. He refused to speak to me again the rest of the trip. Every time I was around, he had a scowl on his face. Every time he was talking to others, he was his charming self. Okay. Whatever.
I was just the messenger. But again, I was used to this sort of thing. Growing up, I had experienced the same sort of thing with my parents. I would be a messenger to deliver some “bad” news. The recipient of the news would snap and accuse me of being on that team and not this team, etc. etc. etc. I was used to it. So, when this happened in a professional setting, I guess I was unfazed. If this could happen at home, it could happen anywhere else.
Back to the Kiran saga. When we returned to Vancouver a few days later after the business trip, I had it out with him in the office. I was no longer going to be treated like I was a slave. When he made an unreasonable request in the office from that point on, I stood up to him and said it was not reasonable or acceptable.
From an employee’s standpoint, my response would be labeled as me being disgruntled or uncooperative. But if you looked at things from my point of view, I was always being cordial and cooperative but there has to be a limit in terms of how poorly bosses treated me. That behaviour exhibited by Kiran during the latter part of that business trip made me not take him seriously anymore. In fact, we had several disagreements in the office after that trip. I was not going to be bullied or treated like a second-class citizen just because he no longer liked me for relaying a message from the Director of Operations.
We still hung out for lunch at times during work — and there are more stories about that, too, some of which were unpleasant — but I no longer took him seriously. More on that on another post.
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.
I really don’t get it
I really don’t get why people are just so vicious. This is a screen shot of random people making personal attacks on each other on social media. I do not know any of these people — and there are numerous examples of these attacks online — but it’s just sad that people can’t be civil anymore.
And it isn’t just the pandemic. I’m apalled that some people post videos of others’ misfortunes and mock them, for instance a fellow human being falling — and hurting himself — because that individual was trying to pull off a stunt. Why are we laughing at people’s misfortunes in the first place?
So, we live in a society where we are entertained by other people’s problems?
As I said, I really don’t get it.