Cage Match

December 13, 2010 at 10:42 PM | Posted in The Corporate World | Leave a comment
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With all this going on–

The Title Company was having a silent auction, with the benefits going to Lynn, one of their employees.
Lynn is a nice lady; I’ve worked with her and for her.  She generally goes to the City and County Government offices to take care of the recording, and I went with her a few times to learn how. I covered for her earlier this year when she was out sick briefly.
But she’s been out for a while and I didn’t know it–they got someone else to do the recording.  Lynn has cancer.  I don’t know the details but she is not working right now because of it.
Having spent some time with her, I know she has a boyfriend (which is odd to say when you’re in your fifties) that is in jail.  He is serving time for a DUI, or repeat offenses of that nature.  Maybe he is a good guy, with a bad turn of luck.  I’m not judging.
He’s supposed to get out of jail in January, after serving something like two or three years.
Because she gots no man around, I worked on her car this summer, doing her brakes for cheap.
So with all that going on, and then with the cancer, she’s been in a tough financial situation–hence the charity auction.
I’m not the most charitable person.  In fact, I’m kind of selfish.  But this is for Lynn, someone I know and someone who genuinely needs help.  I go check out the goods.
Some are decent but most don’t appeal to me.  But there is one basket I like.  It has a gift certificate to the theater, a DVD I’d like to have, popcorn, and various theater-style candy.
Opening bid, 25 bones.
I saw it up to thirty-five.  I want to help out Lynn, and be a good guy.  I write down fifty.  That was around noon.  I figured my chances were pretty good, but then again I don’t really know how these things work.
The auction ends at 2pm, so about 130 I make a circle and check it out.  It’s up to 75 bucks.  Shit.  Man, I can’t afford much more than that.  The last two names on there, of course, are Loan Officers.
If you don’t understand how this works, I’m not going to start at the beginning and explain it all to you.  Just understand this:  LOs have all the money.  They are super-salesmen and they sell loans.  In addition to making an ass-load of cash for themselves, they keep all the rest of us working.  LOs are gods.  They are The Rainmakers.
Several different LOs have the highest bid on most of the items.  Crap.  This is how it always–
I leave, and come back with about 6 minutes left.  I hover and check it out.  The movie package I want is up to 100 dollars.  Fuck.  I’m in over my head.  I could barely afford the fifty.  I was going to wait it out and raise it from 75 to 80.  I *was*, anyway–but that ship has sailed.
One hundred dollars.  The clock is ticking away.  How much is this about me not wanting to lose?  Most of it?  Does it matter what the motivation is if the money goes to a good cause?
That right there is a riddle for the ages.
A couple of other LOs are rolling around, checking things out.  Expensively dressed and perfectly coiffed–this is the office-wear of an LO.  I hung back against the wall in the small conference room near the movie package.  Four minutes.  At two minutes till I look for my opportunity–two male LOs are brandishing their penises in a mock power play of homoeroticism.  I casually grab the pen and take a breath.  I write down “105.”  We just got paid today, and I get some cash, and kind of tighten up over the next week.  I might be all right.  And I might eat ramen noodles for a while.
Just then Carol comes in, the manager of the title company and the one running the auction.  She says, “One minute left, guys.”
Upon hearing that, the latest LO to enter the room went over to the bid sheet for the movie package.  He looked at it and let out a condescending, dismissive chuckle and wrote down his name and his bid. “150.”
He’s laughing and joking with his compatriots, all made of money.  At six-three and well over 300 pounds, I don’t see how I could be invisible to them, but I was.
I just walked out.  At the reception desk, there was a fishbowl with about 7 dollars worth of ones in it for the small candy and banana-nut bread someone had brought in to sell for the event.  I just took the money out of my pocket–ALL the money I had in my pocket–what I had left from tips from the previous night, and tossed it in the bowl.  It was probably forty bucks.

What is a hundred dollars?  What is a hundred dollars to you?  I’ll tell you what a hundred dollars to me is:  I would have to work harder, pick up an extra shift or two, and smile and hustle more on my second job for a hundred dollars.  I have to work a second job for there to even be a goddamn hundred dollars that I can’t afford to give.
What is a hundred dollars to a loan officer?
“Oh, crap.  I accidentally tipped the valet with a hundred dollar bill instead of a ten.  Oh, well.”
That’s what a hundred dollars is to a loan officer.  That goddamn 105 that I was going to give sure as shit meant a lot more to me than the 150 does to him.  I was making a sacrifice.  He was making a selfish “I want it” decision, knowing his name was going to be on the list showing what a great guy he is.
I threw my forty bucks in there anonymously–and I’m telling you because I’m not sure who I’m telling so it is more or less anonymous.  I’m not bragging.  But basically I’m pissed because I didn’t win, and because of how I lost.  I was just swept aside and my paltry bid was just laughed off.  And maybe it doesn’t make me a good person to be upset about it.  Hell, I’m over it now.
What does a hundred dollars mean to you?

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