The Bad Guy

Raymond, pt3 (or, “Thank You Rumsfeld!”)

So I showed up for work for work and I met my new boss. Instead of a hearty handshake and a hello I got asked into her office. The door closed, I sat down and I was blindsided by accusations from a stranger.

“Why do you xerox incident reports? And why did you use inappropriate language to residents?”

I do endorse obfuscation regularly, but I do know when I’m being ambushed unfairly. For a few moments, time froze for me. What should I do in this situation? What exactly was this lady talking about?

It was then that my years of watching C-SPAN paid off. I had a clear memory of the Iran-Contra hearings, Clinton’s “is” testimony, and (more recently) of any Bush administration official…I had a plan.

“Could you be more specific?”

“You xeroxed company papers for your own use and took them home.”

“What papers?”

“Incident reports.”

“Which ones?”

“You tell me.”

“How am I supposed to confirm or deny if you can’t give me specific instances?”

“I expect you to be honest with me.”

“And I expect to to be given dates, times and actual evidence. All I’m asking is for you to help ME help YOU.”

“You want me to be specific? How about last Sunday when you used foul language to a resident?”

“What time?”

“It was 6:30, according to your incident report.”

“Ahhh! I do remember that incident. What of it?”

“You used foul language.”

“What did I say?”

“You know what you said.”

“I can not recall. Could you remind me? Perhaps if you tell me what I supposedly said, I could confirm or deny.”


“Define ‘foul’ language.”

“Don’t get smart with me, I’ll fire you right now!”

“What for? You haven’t told me anything specific. Look, Mrs. Mitchell I welcome an open and honest debate of my work performance, but that can’t happen unless you dispense with these abstract attacks and provide some concrete evidence.”

[Nora is at the point of explosion at this point]

“Just sign this and leave.”

“What is this?”

“It just says that we had this talk.”

“It seems to say that I agree with everything you accused me of. I’m not signing it.”

“You have to!”

“No…I do not.”

With that, I got up and left Nora’s office. Thirty minutes later she brought another document to sign saying that I refused to signed the first document. I refused and she stomped off.

Thank you C-SPAN!!!


September 29, 2006 Posted by | Work | Leave a comment

Raymond, pt2

As the months wore on doing my (admittedly) easy job became a bigger and bigger problem. There was the parade of temporary managers – nine total – who did little but occupy the office for two to three weeks and quit. Crackheads and junkies roamed the hallways at all hours of the night and they were all making regular stops at Raymond’s apartment.

During the hours when Raymond was supposed to be doing his real job, he was most likely sleeping while he got one of his down-and-out “cousins to do his job for him…and they all had master keys to every door in the building. Oh sure, if one of his guys freaked out a little too much they would be out. But that would have to be a heck of a freak out.

During this time I just did my job as best I could and tried not to rock the boat too much. Contrary to the way I usually handle things, I just tried to keep an even keel until a real manager was hired. Little did I know that was just what Raymond was waiting for.

Nora Mitchell showed up last summer and tried to fire me three times. Once for making copies, once for watching tv and once for asking a screaming couple to please keep it down.

For those who know me you will have just called “Bullshit.” And you would be right to do so. Let me now state for the record a previous termination story.

Back in 2003 I was fired from a job for being drunk and telling a radio station that all the customers were morons. Did I deserve to get fired for that? Yes. It really was the best decision for all concerned. And despite this one incident where I walked in, flipped off a guy I worked with and left, I’d say that I’ve conducted myself with great maturity.

My point is that I can be honest with my readers and I can be honest to myself. Nora was not firing me for any real infraction. She hadn’t even worked at the building two days when she attempted to terminate my employment. The truth is that Raymond and a few of his regular customers (some of them residents) made a rather convincing argument. So without having ever met me, Nora Mitchell decided I had to go.

September 24, 2006 Posted by | Work | Leave a comment


Raymond continued to do a great job after his success with the Augean apartment…for the next few weeks. He lived on site so I got to see steady increase in the number of “cousins” who came to visit him on a regular basis. Hell, I don’t care about an on site guy having friends over, and for the first month or so I didn’t pay it any mind. Of course that began to change as steadily as the decline in his job performance.

My first clue was not that he had struck up a peculiar friedship with the old hippie who grew 100%, a-ok legal, medicinal marijuana in his unit (the gardening as well as his long, white beard made it imperative that I nickname him “Mr. Natural”). It wasn’t even the 20 “cousins” who would hang out in Raymond’s unit at all hours of the day and night. No, what got my attention were the hardcore drug users who would come looking for Raymond continuously.

Since the building I work at is a secure building, the desk clerk (me) has to call up to the residents when their guests arrive. And when visitors are given authorization to go upstairs, they must leave their ID’s with me. Visiting hours end at 11pm and all overnight guests must be registered before that time. The one exception to those rules is the on site maintenance man. He can have as many guests as he wants anytime he wants. As a result, a lot of folks without ID, or wanting to visit after hours would just invoke Raymond’s name and I would have no choice to but let them up when he said yes.

September 24, 2006 Posted by | Work | Leave a comment

the Brown Room

Raymond began working with me at the building early last year. He started off as a great guy to work with and capable of tackling the most daunting of tasks.

One task was literally, Herculean.

A resident had relapsed into a dreadful crack habit and stopped looking after herself and her apartment. To make matters worse she was a double amputee (both legs) with diabetes who paid other crackheads to help her out instead of having bona-fide care givers look out for her.

To make this long story as short as possible, the management got wind of what was going on and inspected her unit. What they found there…uh…Ok. You remember in the movie “Se7en” when the cops run into the crime scene and the rookie cop runs right out and vomits in the hallway? It was kind of like that.

In this small, one-bedroom apartment was excrement. Poop. Feces. Shit. Whatever your favorite term for the substance, it was everywhere. It covered the walls, the floor, the kitchen, in the drawers, in the fridge, the sink, around the toilet and in the bathtub. Really, it was everywhere. Yes, the bed, the TV, every cabinet, the lamps…the ceiling…THE CEILING!!! I’m just going to stop right there. To answer your question “What about the ____?” The answer is “YES!!!”

Only one thing in the apartment remained relatively untainted…her crackpipe. The resident was sent to the hospital and to rehab and the brand new maintenance man, Raymond, stepped up to prove his worth. The Augean Apartment was his to redeem.

He worked for 6 days in a makeshift HAZMAT suit and accomlished something remarkable. He made it habitable for humans once again. It was because of this feat that I had a huge amount of respect for Raymond.

September 24, 2006 Posted by | Work | Leave a comment


A few days ago I was feeling a little sorry for myself.  Why?  I made the mistake of looking at the alumni page for my high school.  I read all about how great so many of my classmates were doing and I realized I was truly in a rut.  I began to think how most of the projects I have worked on have fallen on deaf ears and a lot of the chances I have taken have resulted in magnificent failures.  Heck, I consider offing myself at least 3 times a week, I don’t like people and I if I could get another job I would.  The problem is that I can’t find another job and I really have in most cases resigned myself to the fact that I’d be unhappy anywhere doing anything so I might as well pace myself and not get my hopes up too much…

…At least that’s what I usually say when I get into that kind of funk.

ANYWAY, I was about to click off my browser when I saw a blurb on the bottom of the page.  It read:

“[I won’t tell you her name] wants everyone to watch her on VH-1’s ‘Flavor Of Love*.”  The blurb then goes on to tell you that “If you watch the promos, she’s the one in the shiny pink top!”

Suddenly I felt a whole lot better.

* – “Flavor Of Love” is a reality dating show where 30 women vie for the honor of dating Flavor Flav.

September 21, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I was having lunch with my father a few weeks ago.  There was a lull in the conversation and I looked over at one of the tables and saw a older woman with quite a bit of make up and spoke up to my dad.

“Hey, Dad.  It’s Tammy Faye!”

My dad was non-plussed by my supposed insult to the stranger.

“That’s really not nice of you.  Just because she has a lot of make up…”

“No!  Dad, look!”

“Oh…you’re right.”

It was Tammy Faye.

September 17, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Scientologists creep me out.

My walk to work takes me past the Scientology "church"
at Taylor & Sutter.  As I'm crossing the street I see a
guy run out the door and into, I guess, a fellow
pledge at the church.  He grabs the guy and gleefully
exclaims for all to hear "Guess what?  There are, as
of RIGHT NOW, more Scientologists in the world than
"We're BIGGER than the JEWS!!!  That's fuckin'
Honestly, I don't care if any of it is true.
I'm just 100% creeped out.


September 9, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Abe Lincoln and why I hate my job.

I got to my job today and got into a conversation with a guy I work with. A conversation that I really wish had not happened.

“Who discovered America?” He asked me.

Worried about where this was going I decide to go the boring route. The boring route being the “Cliff Claven” way. Usually this will annoy folks to the point of dropping the subject altogether:

“You mean which people crossed the land bridge from Asia? Or are you talking about which European holds that honor? Because that’s another discussion. You know, there are Vikings and even Irish monks who have claimed to have found a new world before the late 1400’s.”

The guy I work wth, uh…Josh, was not into dropping the subject. He gets to his point.

“You know how they say Abraham Lincoln discovered America?”


“Well, who do you think first started that story?”

“You did.” I start getting annoyed and decide to cut the guy some slack.

“I really hope you’re talking about Christopher Columbus. Is that who you really mean?”


“You know Columbus? He sailed over here with three ships from Spain, has a holiday named for him?”

“What did Abraham Lincoln do, then?”

“Sixteenth president of the U.S., lead the country during the Civil War, got shot in the head by John Wilkes Boothe, liked dudes? Any of this ringing a bell?”

“But this Columbus guy, what was he?”

“Where was he from?”





With his head swimming from having his whole world view shattered, Josh went home. A stunned resident who witnessed the entire exchange gave me a look. I perked up and told him “Josh is technically my boss.”

September 9, 2006 Posted by | bad jobs, san francisco, Work | 1 Comment