How to Fail at Business Without Really Trying

It’s not uncommon to round a corner at the bookstore and end up face to face with a customer. It happened again not even ten minutes ago, near the puzzle fixture. “Excuse me,” I said. She encroached on my bubble.

“I’m Batman,” she said in a growl before she marched off.

I don’t particularly enjoy being close to strangers. I’m forever scarred by an extended photo shoot with Eve Myles, because she kept talking to me four inches from my face. The subject matter, while ribald, wasn’t the reason for my stunned expression in the photo that hangs on my living room wall. It was more the fact that I never thought I’d have Gwen from Torchwood (or what’s-her-face from Victoria) repeatedly barking her nasty thoughts directly into my mouth.

The horror.

I’ve felt like dirt all morning, but it’s not worth spending time on. Every time I come up with a way to articulate it, I’m struck by the realization that I can’t make you feel this and even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. I’d basically have to drive to your house and shoot your dog.

That’s not a threat. Believe me, I’ve seen what happens to pet harmers in this country, and I’d rather not spend the next thirty years in prison. I’m constantly amazed at how Americans deify dogs and cats, though. Seriously, folks, I’ve had pets I liked and pets I barely tolerated, but it’s weird how people’s mercy toward other humans comes to an abrupt halt when cuteness is involved.

Even the biggest prison reformers, who preach rehabilitation and education, would be calling for the public execution of a guy who kicked a stray dog. People can’t even handle villains doing it in movies. Sure, Patrick Bateman just rapes and murders a few prostitutes in American Psycho, but god forbid he harm an animal.

We’ve elevated our canine and feline friends above children, even, because we’re obviously okay with the murder of kids in every war zone since forever. I’m sure you can think of at least one armed conflict where you’re like, “Well, yeah, but they started it.”

I’m going to start a charity with the express purpose of parachuting baskets of kittens into Syria. All kidding aside, though, I get why it’s such a red flag. When dude hollows out Sparky and wears him as a hat, you think he might be capable of doing that to you. As a society, we don’t really give the military murder of civilians a second thought (unless there’s a guy in office we don’t like) because we’re all well-drilled on “legitimate” use of force, but maybe we should. Maybe we should have asked when the Navy Seals were going to machine gun our daughters. Maybe we should have asked when Obama was going to drone bomb our house.

Me, I’m for rehabilitation. Give the man some time off for windsurfing and he’ll be back to lobbying for mediocre NeoLiberal half-measures in no time. Watersports Prison might even cure puppy stompers, but we’re going to have to brainstorm a better title, y’all.

Now that I’ve dug this hole, I might as well roll around in it. I’m doing the thing I said I wasn’t going to do up there, but that’s okay. It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. “May I infect you with my malaise?” sounds stranger than saying, “Sorry for being an emo edgelord.”

The best option I’ve found, though, is, “Thanks for listening.”

Believe me, the sociopathic talk is all hypothetical. If I were really that way, I wouldn’t be working retail. I’d be giving YouTube speeches about how I became a billionaire by taking risks and giving no fucks and how you too can be successful if you just buy my book and follow these 13 precepts and attend my $750 seminar. 

I still have Facebook friends who share that shit, and while they might feel inspired after they watch it while clutching their dogeared copy of 48 Laws of Power, they should take note that their beloved business gurus almost never fail to mention their dad’s business, at least in passing.

I hope you have dad’s business, budding entrepreneurs. Sometimes even that isn’t enough. I’m living proof.

Don’t weep for me. I shed my tears for the nonexistent American Left, which let the downtrodden think the only way to get by is by figuratively and/or literally playing the lottery.

If you ever see me go silent for a bit and emerge with a business book to sell, or better yet, a self-transformation manual full of my hard won answers to life’s nagging questions, assume I’ve cracked and gone over to the dark side. Like the work of good ol’ L. Ron Hubbard, the illusion will be effective even after I’ve revealed my intentions for $29.99, hardcover only.

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