Friday, March 14, 2008

Post# 1 - How It All Began

It seems now like it was just yesterday. Of course, that is what everyone says about their lives when they reach an age where the past is significantly longer than their likely future. In the dream that was my life when all of this began, it will always be right now. In reality, it was a lifetime ago. In reality it was so many things. I am sure of this, I was part of a unique social experiment that opened my eyes to a life of rarified air. Many people have what they consider to be great jobs, great careers, unbelievable success and riches. The unfortunate truth and reality for most is that very few individuals in the work force will ever  have really great jobs, great careers, unbelievable success and riches. Most just keep chasing that carrot. It is the dream that keeps on keeping on.
When you are young, it is true, you can dream of being anything you want and in some cases these dreams can actually come true. My story, 'My TSE Life', is a story of personal evolution and culture shock and something a different as a dream that never was, coming true.
In 1980 I had just finished my second year of university at York where I was majoring in Philosophy and English. I was working for a year to pay for my ongoing educational costs and to put food on the table and a roof over my head. I was a good student and did ok but the truth be known, like many other university students of the day, I was there for the social experience and the party. My time at Glendon College of York University was fantastic. In addition to my studies, I was totally immersed in the social life on campus. I was the President of Residence Council, which gave me the greatest room in residence. I had a radio show on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 8:00 to 10:00 pm. I wrote Jane Does' for the newspaper, Pro Tem. I was a #3 seed in the squash rankings at York. I played hockey regularly against the dreaded Chiropractors whose campus was just down the road on Bayview Av. I ran 5 miles 3 times a week. I played in a couple of bands on campus and I consumed copious amounts weed, hash and honey oil. Mostly with Brian Cook. Hey bud! So it was hard for me to take my 3rd year off to work, but my meager financial aid was not forthcoming after my second year, I had no choice. Unlike so many other students of that day I was there on MY dime...not on daddy's dollars. Like almost every other Canadian university student of that day and this, I was a raving socialist. I thought that the most dangerous enemy we all had to face was raging capitalism. I literally didn't have a conservative bone in my body and immediately hated anyone that I thought might. This brings me to my mentor and bastion of capitalist thinking....Steve Curry.

I first met Steve Curry in March 1980. He was dating my girlfriend Jodi's lifelong best friend, Andrea. At the time I thought Steve and Andrea were the most unlikely couple on the planet. Steve was bold and brash and loved to throw around his money in lavishing Andrea with little gifts like mink coats...that sort of thing. Andrea was brash and bold and looked very, very good on Steve's arm. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there is anything wrong with flash (today it's bling) and arm candy, it is just that from where I came from, with marxist cravings for socialist dogma, these two were akin to a toothache. They wern't really such an odd couple, they were just...different. Different from me and everyone I knew.
Steve and I argued alot. Well, mostly I argued and Steve laughed at me, during the time we spent together. One thursday evening as we sat in Jodi's kitchen, waiting, forever again, for the girls to get ready for the evening, Steve and I had one of our philosophical discourses around the topic of 'money'. Steve said that people who thought the way I did usually had no money and were more jealously than philosophically driven. I immediately flew off into a rant about how that was the only kind of real argument people like Steve could ever hope to use against guys like me because he couldn't argue points with me based on logic. Steve laughed at me and asked me how much money I made last year. I knew this was going to hurt because I was a student but ran my own painting and renovation company, which being a part-time job, was unlikely to impress Steve Curry. I told him I made $20,000.00. It was a lie. I actually made about $12,000.00 but just couldn't bring myself to tell him the truth. It wasn't bad for a full-time student, Steve quipped about the $20K. He then told me 'That is about what I paid in my last bar tab and laughed his ass off. I became so pissed off I could have sucker punched him and felt OK about it. But I didn't. He told me he wasn't trying to hurt my feelings, which he did, but was just trying to make a point. He told me I was wasting all that good 'in your face' arguing with my socialist bullshit. He challenged me and my so called principles, saying he could make me forget my commie ways and change my mind and distaste for capitalism. I thought he was nuts! He asked me if I wanted a job. A REAL job. I snidely asked him what kind of job? He answered "What the fuck is the difference, I'll start you off at $30,000 and if you are any good at all you can make alot more in bonuses". At first my ego was insulted. That was my socialist ego. My capitalist ego (I didn't know I had one) was quite intrigued by the offer. You have to keep in mind that these were 1980 dollars. The equivalent dollar value today would be roughly $75,000.00. My other egos were just stroked, so they were happy. I told him I would take him up on his challenge but would NEVER change over to the dark side with him. He told me to steal a white shirt and tie and show up on the floor and ask for him on tuesday morning at 9:30 and to bring him a double double. He, of course, knew he had me then. He told me that everybody has a price, but the real secret was never undervaluing yourself...because surely everyone else will. Shit, I thought I was the philosopher!
I woke up Friday morning feeling the effects of what would soon become a pattern in my life and times with Steve Curry. Man, what a hangover!
I drifted through the weekend in a bit of a daze. Some part of me knew that I was about to embark on a significant life journey. No matter how hard I tried to deny myself even a tiny bit of excitement over the coming challenge, I could not deny the overwhelming feeling that I would never be the same after putting my foot in the door and my head into the mouth of the capitalist beast. Even though I told myself I would work until September and take my money and run back to school laughing all the way to the bank, I didn't really believe it. I said it, I meant it. I just didn't believe it. Then something struck me. I realized that the comming tuesday was April 1st...April Fool's Day. I thought for sure that he was playing a cruel and unusual joke on me by having me show up and then he and his capitalist buddies would have a great laugh at my expense. Oh shit! What kind of an idiot was I being. 
But what if he wasn't setting me up! Wow, this was scarry!

Stay Tuned For 'April Fool's...My First Day'!

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