Posts Tagged ‘ Creativity ’

BEWARE OF THE SMILEY-FACED OFFICE JACKAL!

THE HUMAN RACE

THE OFFICE JACKAL WILL EAT YOU UP!

 

Like the owl, the hyena, and

especially the office jackal,

they are out to get us! Comparing

these predatory creatures to people,

they are society’s bullies, workplace

maneuverers who feed on fellow employees.

Even brilliant CEOs have to defend themselves

against management subordinates who are

who are determined to devour their

executive bosses. Using disparaging

tactics, propaganda is the weapon

that keeps them on top of the

corporate and blue-collar heap.

They break hearts. They plagiarize.

Some are so brilliant, so creative,

they lure the naive, unsuspecting leaders

and fellow employees into a steel trap from

which there is no escape. These human

jackals exist because they are so

cunning. Many hide behind purity,

integrity, compassion. Even religion.

Some carnivores actually reward followers

who help carry out unscrupulous assaults

on others. So guys and gals who expect

to earn an honest buck at whatever

job level you are working, you’d

better beware that there are political

hyenas and other hungry predators who,

despite their hypocritical smiley faces,

see you as nothing more than tidbits. You

could wind up as carnage scattered across

that untamed concrete jungle you identify as

your World of Opportunity. Thank God,

that’s your problem. Not mine!

 

— Boots LeBaron —

 

 

BEAUTY QUEEN TELLS ABOUT HER ADVENTURES IN LIFE

THE HUMAN RACE

LIFE’S REALITIES FROM A FORMER BEAUTY PAGEANT WINNER

 

     Lee Turner was one beauty pageant queen who wasn’t afraid to tell her true story,  looking at life and death as she lived it.

     Here’s the still-timely interview I wrote 26 years ago:

     Despite their years, the expressive brown eyes are youthful and unmistakable trusting. As we sat across from each other in a corner booth at Buffy’s coffee shop in old downtown Torrance, California, Lee Turner revealed what those eyes had seen in 74 years of life.

     I’ve never used the word sweetness to describe a woman’s face. But in Lee’s case, it was a perfect fit. Even before she spoke, her eyes would reveal the emotional thoughts behind them.

     It wasn’t all good. It wasn’t all bad. Yet there were moments of terror that still lingered in her memories. There were moments of love, restlessness, confusion — and times when she felt “on top of the world.”

     For Lee, motherhood was one dream that never materialized. After several miscarriages, she could never have a baby of her own.

     The last pregnancy lasted six months.

     “It broke my heart,” she remembered. “But looking at the world today, maybe it’s just as well.”

     Although she shrugged away those memories, she recited “My Great Desire,” a poem she wrote after she lost her last child, as if it happened just yesterday.

     “I wish I had a darling boy to tuck into his bed,

     To put away each baby toy and smooth his tousled head.

     I’d walk so proudly down the street

     And take his chubby hand

     And smile at ever one I’d meet

     And look upon his face so tan!

     God, is that too much to ask,

     A favor which seems quite small?

     I would try to master the heaviest task

     If you would heed my call.”

     A half-century before we met, in the former Torrance Auditorium, Miss Leila (Lee) Mae Combs, a striking 24-year-old brunette paraded across the stage in a one-piece swimsuit and high heels.

     In competition with nine other young women, she won, selected as the first Miss Torrance in that city’s history.

     “The country was still very poor then. The Torrance Moose Lodge sponsored the beauty contest. I came prepared to sing a ‘song poem’ I wrote. But it wasn’t necessary.

     Lee walked away not only as Miss Torrance 1939 but was awarded a new swimsuit, a beach towel, a robe, a free hair shampoo and set at a local salon, and the opportunity to compete in the Miss California beauty pageant in Venice, Calif.

     “I lost that one,” she said, smiling.

     Beauty contest winners, Lee noted, “have it made today. If they were asked to compete for the kind of prizes I won, they’d say, ‘Forget it!’ In my day, the honor of being selected as a pretty woman was important.”

     As a young women, her favorite actress was Clara Bow. “I wanted to be like her,” Lee said. “In 1940, she moved into a girlfriend’s apartment in Hollywood, worked as a waitress and taught ballroom dancing while pursuing an acting career. But Hollywood never beckoned.

     “A couple of producers offered to show me their etchings,” she said, giggling. “I told them, ‘No way!'”

     She would never forget the Sunday morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. “Even now when I think of it, I break out in goose bumps.”

     On that fateful day, Lee and her first husband, Eddie Guillow, a crane operator, were newlyweds living in a small house near Honolulu Airport.

     “I was sitting at a breakfast table writing a note to my mother on a Christmas card when I heard the sound of a plane,” Lee recalled. “It kept getting louder and louder. Suddenly, the house seemed to explode.”

     A Japanese Zero riddled her home with machine gun fire, the bullets penetrating the breakfast nook only a foot from where she was sitting. “I ruined the note,” she said, laughing at the irony. “I dove for a door jam, thinking it might be an earthquake.”

     Then a second plane zoomed overhead, dropping a bomb that exploded across the street, sending chunks of shrapnel into her house. About the same time, her husband was operating a crane near the battleship USS Arizona, which was under heavy attack. “When the Arizona exploded and sunk, Eddie had to dive off the crane and swim under the burning oil to safety.”

     A year later, back in the U.S. while walking with her sister-in-law, Lee said she “hit the dirt” when a plane passed overhead. “I felt embarrassed. But when my sister-in-law started laughing, I told her, ‘It’s not funny!'”

     Her husband was killed in a crane accident in 1947. Five years later she married Ken (Buck) Turner. A maintenance supervisor for the Torrance Parks Department, her husband died several months later.

     “It seems that everywhere I go, something drastic happens,” said Lee, who grew up in Torrance in a family of eight children and graduated from Torrance High School there.

     Another calamity she found herself in the midst of was the devastating Long Beach earthquake in 1933. “It was a very foggy Friday afternoon,” she recalled. “I was in the kitchen of my second-story apartment fixing french fries when the building began to sway and shake.

     “Polytechnic High School was right next door. It’s tower collapsed and fell onto my front yard. I was 18 years old and terrified. When I sat down at the breakfast nook, a second temblor tore the gas stove from the wall and knocked me out! When I came to, I was covered with french fries.

     “I was trapped in the kitchen. Rescuers had to break into the room to get me out. Other than a bump on my head and being scared half to death, I was fine.”

     At that time, I asked, “At your age, with all these experiences, what have you learned about survival?”

     “I live today as if it were tomorrow. I have girlfriends. I like to go places. I was a liberated women long before my second husband died. I don’t like to see what’s happening in the world. But I love visiting downtown Torrance.

     “I plan to be around long after everyone else is pushing up daisies,” she said with  that sweet-faced smile.

     Suffice to say: Lee Turner, if she’s still alive today, was my favorite beauty queen.   Ever!

 

                        — Boots LeBaron —

 

 

CAFE SERVER’S MEANINGFUL VIEW OF THE HUMAN RACE

THE HUMAN RACE

MEET THE BALLERINA OF THE KETTLE COFFEEHOUSE.

     With the grace a ballet dancer, Linda Marie Lauckhardt, balancing heavy plates of food on one arm, glided across the floor side stepping customers, and snake-hipped her way around a maze of tables to deliver her cumbersome cargo.  

     It was a performance that the statuesque green-eyed waitress repeated literally thousands of times during a career that spanned 37 years. It ended rather abruptly after thirteen years of toting culinary freight at The Kettle, a popular 24-hour restaurant/coffee shop in Manhattan Beach, Calif.  

     Linda told me that she had quit the serving profession because she couldn’t keep up with the physical demands of “being the best I can be.

     “I’m the kind of person who runs, not walks,” she said. “My body just couldn’t take the beating.” In many restaurants, she noted, “the attitude of management toward waiters and waitresses seems to be apathetic. The truth is, good waitresses are NOT easy to find.

     “I’ve never been the kind of person who’d just as soon pick up their money and run. When I clear off a table, the last thing I think about is the tip. If they don’t leave a tip, I figure they can’t afford it. When they come back, they get the same care as anyone else. When they run across an exceptional waitress, customers know.”

     Linda, in her late 40s when I interviewed her, had been serving people most of her life. When she was a 4th grader in San Pedro, she dropped out of elementary school to help support her family which included 11 brothers and sisters.

     At the age of ten, her brothers and sisters, many of them parented by different fathers, were split up and Linda began living in a series of foster homes. At 12 years old, she lied about her age to get a job working 10-hour shifts as a “steamer” in a Chinese laundry. When the owner learned she was under age, she was fired.

     From the day she was born to a waitress in a Sweetwater, Texas hotel, adversity was her nemesis. “My mother,” she said, “wasn’t the kind of mommy who’d sit you on her lap and hug you.” So when most little girls were playing house, Linda “was playing mother” in real life trying to keep her family together.

     When other little girls were playing with dolls, Linda made her doll out of a Coca Cola bottle. “We had a lot of mouths to feed and for a time we couldn’t afford the luxury of toys.”

     Perhaps that’s why for more than two decades, her advocation has been making dolls. During that time, she has made and sold more than 150 antique Jumeau French doll replicas and 400 Teddy Bears. Her home in Big Bear, Calif. where she lived with her husband, Rich, who was an avionics technician, was filled with dolls, cats, stray dogs and neighborhood children.

     She and Rich were married when she was 14 and he was 16. They had no children. When she retired, Linda was about turning her avocation into a full-time profession. Authentic Jumeau antique originals at the time, she said, sold for more than $6,000. Her replicas which she made from scratch, took three months to create. She’d pour her own porcelain molds and sew the clothes by hand. Her replicas were selling for as much as $475. Her handmade Teddy Bears were going for $50 to $75.  

     The only fantasy she rememberd as a teenager was wanting to be a singer like Ella Fitzgerald or Kaye Starr. But when there’s “mouths to feed, clothes to buy, and diapers to change, a young girl’s dreams can somehow get lost in reality.”

     Despite the difficult early years of her childhood, the girl from Sweetwater found love rather than bitterness, pride rather than self-effacement, compassion rather than anger with the human race she waited on throughout the years.

     “I loved being a waitress,” she said, then confessed, “I’ve run across my share of hateful customers. They’ve managed to slither out from under a rock somewhere determined to ruin my day. You learn to handle the bad apples. But I’ve been fortunate to have served too many caring people in life to worry about the stinkers.”

     When she approached one “stinker” while working at The Kettle, he snarled, “Get away from here; I’ll let you know when I want you!”   Early in her career as a server, working a graveyard shift at Norm’s, a long established restaurant chain in Los Angeles County, a customer screamed profanities at Linda causing her to break down crying. Then, she recalled, “He predicted: ‘You’ll never make it as a waitress because you can’t take it!'”   

     Of course, the other side of the coin is much brighter. After serving a two-dollar breakfast to a “regular” at Norm’s restaurant in Torrance, Calif., he tipped her with a jar containing $100 worth of Mercury-head dimes.

     At The Kettle, one satisfied woman customer gave her a gold-antique cameo that belonged to her dead mother. A bank president would bring her roses regularly.

     “I believe that every day, if you do something for somebody — on the job or in the streets — you’re doing something for yourself. You can never be too giving or too kind-hearted.”

     — Boots LeBaron

SURVIVING LIFE’S INSURMOUNTABLE ODDS!

 

THE HUMAN RACE

TRUTH BE KNOWN:  THERE’S NO COUPON FOR MIRACLES

It’s the words that meld together

creating thoughts and fears reflecting

every person’s ongoing struggle to find

a semblance of peace of mind in an

over-populated world compacted by greed,

violence, desperate naivety, and a

a message of faith that inexcusably

guarantees the kind of miracles that will

fulfill our hopes, dreams and schemes.

In every conscience, such declarations

scour the most intimate corners of our

mind — not always in an enlightening sense.

To reach Valhalla, we must somehow find

strength as individuals to ignore our

fears and human flaws to reach that final

destination when Odin welcomes us to his great

hall. No matter how painful or debatably

misleading the promises, they are

convincing enough to satisfy any doubts

that linger before Odin’s final embrace.

All we need is a shred of truth

to fulfill our hopes and dreams

and fuel our trip to Valhalla.

Actors as well as other celebrities,

bless their charismatic and

artistic hearts, are members of a talented

gang of theatrical creatures capable of

articulating believable messages

that provoke self-examination.

Even Odin’s disciples must be capable

communicators. Otherwise, these

artists will anger the gods by not

bringing home the bacon.

The precious delivery of descriptive

observations, visual expressions, the

use of metaphors and similes, reach the

mind of those who are open to reason.

No person is honestly content with

what lurks in the dark regions of another

person’s mind. We all come equipped with

guilt as well as joy glands that

need massaging. Bullshit exists

in every member of the human race.

Literary craftspeople, essayists,

poets, TV talking heads or office moguls

who paint glorious promises they never

keep have been known to preach rewards,

then deliver nothing.

That’s their talent. They come armed

with words. And you are the target.

Never lose faith in strangers.

But be skeptical. Purity might be

believable, but is not always

attainable. Despite our self-disparaging

selves, the adventures we experience

en route to Odin’s palace, make life’s

challenges worth the aggravation.

Must we agonize over our questionable

wisdom? Should we ride with the anguish

we are spoon fed with daily doses?  

It’s up to you. Go figure!

 

— Boots LeBaron —

HITTING AN ABUSIVE BOSS WITH TRUTH WAS A SOUL SAVER

THE HUMAN RACE

OFFICE OGRES  DESERVE TO SUFFER  EXASPERATION, TOO!

 

Even bosses are not immune to exasperation.

Subjected to bullying from abusive bosses,

guys and gals who vent their own wrath against

such higher-ups,should think twice before

they perform  the honcho pounce .

For any working stiff,  uncompromising honesty

could result in political suicide.  Here’s my story:

Although I had a family to support and bills

to pay, I had no alternative than to leave a bitemark

on an office executive’s conscience. When my boss

invited me into his Century City office, closed

the door, sat me down across from him  and asked,

“What do you think of me?” my guard was down.

The corporate vice-president had taken

me to lunch several times and had confessed 

his personal woes.  So innocently I crawled into his

ring, dropped my dukes, and naively asked if he wanted

the truth? When he shot me smile and shrugged

disarmingly, looking more like Jimmy Stewart than

Godzilla, I gave him a dose of honesty:

“You are a sonuvabitch, Jake.

You mistreat employees. Throw tantrums.

Slam your office door so hard that pictures

fall off the wall. You phone your secretary at

five sharp every afternoon. For fear of losing

her job, she can’t leave even three minutes early.

You have her bring in Starbucks in the morning,

lie to clients about your availability.

On her own time, you have her pick up your

laundry and buy gifts for your wife.”

Although he didn’t bat an eyelash, the veins in his

neck looked like they were going to explode.

Jonathan didn’t speak to me for several weeks.

Finally, he fired me. A few days later, I was told,

the president of the company sent him a memo

telling him that he couldn’t attend a showbiz

conference in New Orleans because he was needed

to make a new business presentation. In a tizzy fit,

Jake marched into the president’s office,

 tore up  the memo, and tossed the shreds into the

secretary’s face. “Tell the boss,” he snapped, “this is what

 I think of his memo!” When the supreme commander

returned that afternoon,  Jake, his irreplaceable

vice president, offered: “I’ll give you four weeks

to replace me.” Almost instantly, he fired

Jake, which wasn’t his real name,

and rehired me. The object of this true

 story is: In any business environment,

think before you reveal a painful truth to any

workplace superior who is capable of

suffocating you professionally. If the ogre is leading

with his chin like Jake did, you have

a couple of options: Think defensively, be creative and

polish your self-assertive candor. Only then will you be capable of

delivering a verbal punch that might knock some

ruthless, intimidating, egotistical

taskmaster on his egotistical butt .  Always keep

in mind that stark truth may  land 

you in the unemployment line.

Like my actor-stuntman dad used to say,

“Never telegraph a punch unless

you’re sure you can knock your

opponent out of the ring.”

Quite often, such  has

no clout in the workplace.

Yet, if intrepidity — strength of

mind to carry on in spite of danger,

that kind of fearlessness reveals that

you’re mentally fit to tangle with any

fire-breathing dragon who thinks

he’s invincible.  But equip yourself

before going into battle.  Remember,

no matter how sharp your tongue,

come equipped with integrity

and the heart of a warrior.

As the bumper sticker warns,

SHIT HAPPENS!

— Boots LeBaron —

DESPITE WWII BATTLE WOUNDS, U.S. MARINE LIVED FULL LIFE

THE HUMAN RACE

 

WAR NEVER ENDED FOR CHIEF ‘TALL SUN’

     Despite a day of living hell and an adulthood surviving as a wounded World War II veteran with an atrophied right arm and a brace on his right leg, Chief George (Tall Sun) Pierre stood tall and courageously unrelenting against the unmerciful winds of life.

     The fiercely proud full-blooded Okonogan Indian and a longtime friend of mine, died in 2011 (suffering from prostate cancer). He was the hereditary chief of the 11 Colville Confederated Tribes, a 1.5 million-acre reservation on the Columbia River near Spokane, Wash.

     Our last conversation was on the phone. George, 85, told me he had prostate cancer. He was living in a condo in Redondo Beach, Calif. What troubled him more than the thought of death was that because of his disability he feared he would never return to the heavily-timbered reservation where he grew up and for many years visited frequently.

   Like his father Chief Edward Joseph Pierre, the stoic-faced George had always been a warrior at heart. When he was only 16-years-old he enlisted in the Marines. “I wanted to be like my ancestors,” he said, “I wanted to be a hero.”

     On November 23, 1943 (two days after his 17th birthday), he was the youngest member of the U.S. Marine’s 2nd Division assault forces. Against the Japanese-held Tarawa, a heavily fortified atoll in the northern Gilbert Islands in the South Pacific, he was one of thousands of leathernecks that stormed the beach.  

     “For most of us,” he recalled, “it was our first taste of battle. Bombs were exploding everywhere. Heavy machine-gun and rifle fire was tearing us apart. Bullets hitting the sand sounded like a hail storm. We were dangerously bunched together, pinned behind a seawall.”

     As George moved away from the group a bullet ripped through his helmet penetrating his brain. “I fell to the ground, conscious but completely paralyzed. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t even blink my eyes. I could hear my buddies say, ‘Pierre got it!'”

     Had it not been for a Navy corpsman who “noticed tears in my eyes and dragged me to safety,” George would have been left for dead alongside his comrades whose bodies were scattered along the beach and floating in the water.

     “Here I was, a youngster, no different than the men and women fighting in Afghanistan today. A good kid. I hadn’t done anything wrong. Yet, God took away the use of my leg and arm for the rest of my life. It’s very difficult to rationalize.”

     Death on the battlefield, he had told me, “is a tragedy not only for the soldier but for their families. But when you have to live with wounds like this, that calls for a different level of courage.

     He was opposed to the “unjust” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan where “our kids were being killed and wounded. “The older I get, the more often I pray for our combat troops. Young people never think about being physically handicapped.

     “Maybe it was God’s will that I was struck in the brain, because I never experienced pain. Even lying there on the beach, I knew something was terribly wrong. So I learned early in life that nobody is invincible.”

     Since that fateful day in 1943, George has faced life like a true “Nez Perce Warrior” (the title of one of several books he has written and self published).

     “I love my country,” he said. “I’m proud to be a wounded veteran of World War II. But life has been painful. When I walk or ride in my wheelchair, sometimes people think I’ve been crippled by a stroke. There have been times when I’d like to wrap my body in an American flag.”

     It has been many years since George had worn his ceremonial war bonnet, ringed with black-tipped eagle feathers, and the white suit of leather stitched by his late mother, Mary Teresa, a medicine woman and tribal matriarch who played melancholy songs on a willow flute.

     Chief Pierre, a former Congressman (1964-67) from the State of Washington, a lawyer with a master’s degree in political science from USC, was never without a battle.

     One war he was constantly waging was against the silent prejudice he is intimately familiar with.

     “Our society has a tendency to discard broken toys,” he said. “Many give money to help the handicapped. Yet those same people find cripples grotesque and have problems coping with the reality.      “If people could look beyond our physical imperfections they might be surprised. Life is tough enough for a person with two hands and legs, let alone, a guy like me,” he said, a faint smile crossing his chiseled lips.      

     “In any war where the enemy is fanatically suicidal, our soldiers are all potential targets. They know they’re facing death or some form of mutilation the minute they step outside of a secure compound. That kind of inner-strength is hard to describe.”

     When Pierre was 12-years-old, he was sent out alone in search of his manhood into the Bonapart Mountain Range, a wilderness in North Central Washington. During the ritual, he was supposed to survive for two days, then return as a man.

     When he failed to return on schedule, his mother and uncle went searching for him. At high noon, they found him sleeping on a branch in a towering tree. Thus, he was given the Indian name Tall Sun.

     With a hint of whimsy, he proudly proclaimed that he was “the last living Native American warrior chief.” His niece, Dr. Tracey Pierre of Seattle, Wash., said that George, who was divorced with no children, was given a military burial on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, at Arlington National Cemetery.  

     About 25 years  ago made me an “honorary chief” of the Colville tribes and his mother, Mary Teresa, a medicine woman and tribal matriarch blessed me and gave me a tribal name:  Walk in the Clouds.  With pride, I cherish the memory of that day.  The reason I ran this story about my friend is tomorrow is Armed Forces Day.

     — Boots LeBaron —

TRY A LITTLE FANTASIZING AT YOUR LOCAL LAUNDROMAT

THE HUMAN RACE

A TIDY PLACE TO TWIDDLE LIFE AWAY

 

Sitting in the laundromat

watching the Speed Queen

tumble-dry your clothes

can be a monotonous thing.

 

You may pass the time gawking

at the scrumptious honeys,

or occupy the boring hours

twiddling your thumbies.

 

You can play a game of solitaire,

if by chance you have a deck.

Like waiting for your socks to dry,

it’s one tedious trek.

 

If you’re the type of person

who can slip into a trance,

a visit to the laundromat

might allow your brain to prance.

You may fly away to Paradise

on gossamer wing,

take a lover, become an NFL star,

rule the world as queen or king.

 

But for those who have a passion for

a life jampacked with washing machines,

somewhere in your ancestry

there’s gotta be some screwed up genes.

 

— Boots LeBaron —

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