Yesterday I stopped to buy gas at a local Circle K convenience store not very far from our house. Since I can rarely buy gas without buying a Mounds candy bar, I walked inside while the gas pumped on its own – just in time to hear the following conversation between the cashier and her Budweiser beer delivery man:
Beer Man to Cashier: “How’s it going today?”
Cashier to Beer Man: “About like it always goes. Boss already showed up today to complain about something. I wanted to tell him to take this job and shove it.”
Beer Man to Cashier: “Hey, maybe I can get you a job working with us. I hear we got openings.”
Cashier to Beer Man: “No way. On my next job I don’t want no responsibility for nothing. I don’t want to talk to nobody. I just want to clock out at 5 o’clock every day and go home.”
And on that cheerful note, she turned to me and smiled and asked me if I wanted to pay for the candy separately. Which I did.
On the drive back to the house, I thought about jobs, careers and the whole notion of the importance of Work in our everyday lives. I don’t think much about my prior career with numbers anymore, but this was the second time in 48 hours I’d been reminded of my working years that numbered as many as Susan Lucci’s on All My Children. That would be 41.
(Note to self: You are also working as a writer and have been for six additional years. The fact that you don’t consider these years as “really” a job might go a long way toward explaining why you have produced no income. Just sayin’. Food for thought.)
During the Super Bowl two nights ago I saw Paul Allen hoist the Lombardi Trophy as the owner of the Seattle Seahawks NFL Championship Team and wondered what rock I had lived under and how long I’d lived under it which must be the only possible reason I never connected the dots until Sunday night that this was indeed the same Paul Allen who was Bill Gates’s co-founder of Microsoft. Seattle. Microsoft. Bill Gates. Paul Allen. Gazillionaires.
This moment of serendipity led me down a winding memory lane of my pre-existing condition as a financial advisor who sold individual stocks – among other investments – to qualified clients. I worked for a firm that had offices in smaller cities throughout the USA and advertised as the firm that brought Wall Street to Main Street. I was working for that firm in 1998 when Paul Allen bought the controlling interest in a cable company called Charter Communications (NASDAQ symbol CHTR). He and I met right there at the corner of Main Street and Wall Street.
Because of my confidence in the potential Midas touch of Paul Allen I sold CHTR to a bunch of people – usually as a stock of above average risk with above average growth potential and almost always as just one holding of a diversified portfolio. Almost always.
But Sunday night I remembered the one exception I made when I recommended it to a high school classmate who had never bought a stock in her life. I saw her at a class reunion in 2000 (remember the Roaring 2000s?) and she asked me if I could recommend a stock she could buy that would make a lot of money. I recommended CHTR and she bought it. Hope filled the air.
Unfortunately, CHTR was the one blight on a Paul Allen lifetime of successful endeavors in business, sports, the arts, philanthropy – you name it, he made money and gave it away by the billions. CHTR peaked at $27.75 in November, 1999 and was probably about that price when I sold it to my clients including my high school girlfriend. By 2002, it fell to under $1 a share. In February, 2009 the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and in November of that year canceled its obligations to its shareholders. Ouch.
My recollections of Charter Communications reminded me that while many of my days in financial services were good ones, even great ones, I did have times when I shared the opinion of David Allan Coe’s lyrics in Take this Job and Shove It…I ain’t working here no more.
Breathes there the person with soul so dead who never to herself has said, This job sucks. But we persevere and we hang in there for all the right reasons and even a few wrong ones and may think to ourselves on any given day: On my next job I don’t want no responsibility and I don’t want to talk to nobody.
Oh gosh, I may have found that job.
P.S. Paul Allen hung on to a small equity stake in CHTR after its bankruptcy and since 2011 the return on the stock has been 100.7%. His stake in the company is now worth $535 million dollars. The closing price today (02-05-14) was $137.35 per share.