The Beloved Poison Merchant

poisonDuring college and for the first year after I graduated, I had a job as a poison merchant.  It was a really good job for a young person.  The pay was above average, the hours fit perfectly into my personal and social schedules.  My boss was a great guy who treated me extremely well because he recognized that I was a valuable member of the team.  Our customers really liked me and I had banter with the regulars.  I knew the preferences of the regulars and was adept at helping the people who didn’t know what they wanted.  Despite how well things were going as a poison merchant, I opted to follow a more noble cause: knowledge salesman!

The past sixteen years as a knowledge salesman have been a tough slog.  I have plenty of prospective customers who are forced to consider my products.  Unfortunately most of them are resistant to buy because of the obligation that is held over their head.  Most see no point to my product and think the price is too high.  My store is antiquated.  Even though I see all of the deficiencies in my company, it’s an old industry that believes that it will always exist.  Despite the poor working conditions, I truly do care for my customers and know that my product could help them toward a better life.  Unfortunately I have grown weary from fighting with my customers in their own self-interest.  I know that in other parts of the world, customers risk death to get my products.  While in my territory, low prices are demanded constantly and I know that many of my customers despise me for trying to do my job.  The thing that keeps me going at the moment is my former customers who send me the occasional message of thanks.  I’ve thought often of going back to being a poison merchant.

Value is not a fixed thing.  Currency, real estate, commodities and almost anything else in this world has a value relative to the desire for that item, service, etc.  Since value is driven by need/desire, it changes by region, time period or circumstance.  It can also be deceptive.  Humans put great value on things that are inherently worthless much of the time.  They also put little to no value on things that are of great importance.  My time working at a beer and wine store and as a teacher are not particularly an indictment of American culture but they do paint a picture of the value that we put on different things.  Value is decided both individually and collectively.  As each of us presses forward in our lives and communities, it is important  to decide what we truly value in both the short and long term.


On Tour Now!

AdeleOn Thursday of this past week, tickets for Adele’s tour went on sale.  Through some minor internet miracle, I was able to get a pair of tickets for my wife and daughter.  They both love Adele and were extremely excited about their good fortune.  This will be my daughter’s first concert.  My wife commented that our kids have done pretty well for their first concerts: Foo Fighters at CitiField and Adele at Madison Square Garden.  By comparison, my wife first saw the Beach Boys (way past their prime) at Waterloo Village and I saw Poison at the Meadowlands.  I’m not sure that most people’s first concert experience has a big effect on them but mine did.  Please share in the comments what was the first concert that you attended.

The reason that my first concert was memorable had nothing to do with Poison.  I actually much preferred the opening act, Tesla.  After that concert, I went to Sam Goody or some other record store and bought “The Great Radio Controversy”.  It was a decent album but the music eventually became secondary to the process that it started.  The liner notes to the album explained the name of the band and what the great radio controversy was about.  After reading that bit of information, I looked further into Nikola Tesla.  It was the first time that I remember using an encyclopedia for something that was not school related (the internet was not available).  Music was a gateway to exploring information and ideas that  would not be presented in school.  This habit continued through high school with my interest in punk rock which helped to expand my vocabulary and thought processes.  At this point in my life, this form exploration is second nature and the internet has made it much easier.

The one thing that I try to avoid is getting caught in a complete echo chamber.  Although we have infinite amounts of information available to us, many people get caught listening to the same messages continuously.  This is not to say that all things are worthy of our attention.  It is important to consider what you value and be open to new possibilities when they come along.  Poison was an OK concert to begin with but if I was still only listening to “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, I’d be worried about myself.  Although we tend to think of ourselves in very concrete terms, we should be anything but stagnant.  Seeking out the next step seems to be a better strategy than waiting for someone to tell us where to go.

Adele is on tour now because she is relevant at the moment.  There is nothing wrong with going to see Poison provided that you realize that they’re a nostalgia act.  Visiting the past is enjoyable.  Living in the past can be dangerous.  The past is unchangeable.  The present is our one opportunity to affect the future.  Decide what you need in order to take your show on the road and be tour now.




Delicious Poison

Princess Bride“I’ve spent the past few years building up an immunity to iocane powder!” -The Dread Pirate Roberts/Wesley

It was a strategic maneuver.  Obviously Wesley knew that at some point he would be faced with a situation where drinking poison would save his life.  However since iocane is odorless and tasteless, the experience was not done for enjoyment but rather protection.  If Wesley had been alive in modern or realistic times, he would have had a greater number of choices to kill Vizzini.  It just would have taken years and not moments to kill him using a soft drink, ultraviolet sun-rays, fast-food and stress-laden office job.  If you haven’t understood any of this post yet, stop everything and watch “The Princess Bride” right now!

Now that you’re back or never left, it should be obvious to most that our lives are full of possible poisons.  Some can be instantaneous killers.  Others take years to grab hold and choke the life out of people.  Why are we surrounded by so much poison?  Because we want to be!  We really don’t want the literal or figurative death that they carry but it is usually an unwanted side-effect to some deliciousness.   I use the word delicious to describe some positive feeling sensation associated with a negative action or product.  It does not specifically have to be a food/drink.

The delicious moment trumps the long term poisonous effect.  It is all over our society: food, drink, relationships, entertainment and the list goes on.  I’m sure that it is not impossible but it would definitely be difficult to go “poison free”.  So I would not ask that of anyone.  Since I mainly write this blog to challenge myself, the challenge that I lay before you and I is to give up two delicious poisons this week.  Tuesday (8/25) to Tuesday (9/1).  Leave a comment with your two and be honest with yourself and me if you drop the ball.  It’s not failure, it’s data!  You’ve learned something about yourself.  My two poisons are: Iced Tea and ice cream.  I also promise to leave a comment if I fall short.  People who know me will recognize the difficulty of this.  Can you give up Facebook, unnecessary cellphone use, your anger, that cup of coffee or cigarette?

“Never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” -Vizzini