Prayers of Petition and Instruments of Blunt Trauma

Last night I attended a dinner meeting for the Sales and Marketing Council (SMC) which is branch of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA). The GHBA, in turn, is the local chapter of the National Home Builders Association (NHBA). For every major industry there is going to be a organization that affords professionals in that industry the opportunity to come together to get drunk, rub elbows and generally gripe about what the government should or shouldn't do in order for them to make more money.

That sounds bad, I know but there are good things about the organization too. Two years ago I won an award from the GHBA for Sales Manager of the Year. In the building industry this is on par with winning an Academy Award complete with red carpet, jumbo shrimp cocktail and acceptance speeches. When I made mine I was very sincere in my gratitude for my boss's support and my sales team who did all the actual work and should have been the real recipients of the award. Of course, being the attention whore that I pretend not to be I felt compelled to leave an impression on the crowd. The lights, the stage, the microphone - all those hundreds of people looking at me - the winner of this shiny piece of phallic glass. It was all too much. Thus I concluded my speech with one more thank you.

"And to the Ultimate Sales Manager in the sky, JC!" Beat chest once. Thrust figure toward heaven and bow head. Applause and laughter.

The event Emcee had nothing. If you remembered nothing else that night you remembered the Ultimate Sales Manager in the sky... that and the guy that got locked out because he felt the need to go get more jumbo shrimp cocktail while everybody was distracted with the awards presentation. I think he was was wearing a pink polyester tux and cowboy hat. Understand, it is Houston, Texas people and where else can you get jumbo shrimp so good you are willing to risk embarassment for just one more plate full.

The award itself didn't mean crap to me, but I was highly motivated to win it from the minute I was made sales manager a little over a year before. Understand that at that time there was a group of old-time sales people in the division I ran and they didn't like me that much, mainly because they couldn't really sell. They were riding a good market, were in "lay down" communities, and letting realtors do all the work for them. The only real reason they were around was because they were cronies with higher management. They were well aware of what I thought of them so they constantly pressured the powers that be to get rid of me. Finally, the city president caved and demoted me from division president to sales manager in another division. This after having the number one division in the city. Yeah, the system works.

From the moment I started as a sales manager - one with absolutely no experience in sales whatsoever (another testament to what a great team I had) - I knew that this award was my ticket to inflicting blunt trauma. This award signified credibility both in the industry and to the those managers and their sychopant friends that wanted me to fail. Sure enough at the reception party after the presentation there were those same dried up, withered old sales people standing in a little group waiting to congratulate me. I smiled and was gracious as I shook their hands, but my real source of joy was in my realization that my little award was "pointy" at the top making it a slightly easier to shove into one of their anuses... or ear, or nose - pick your orifice. Hanging around, a back slapping after an awards show isn't my gig so my date and I left the reception early and headed to a bar to meet up with some of her friends.

"Nice tux," one of her friends said, "I hear you won some type of award tonight?"

"Ya, Limo Driver of the Year. Buy me a drink, cause I'm a champion."

Since then, I hadn't been to any SMC events in over a year, but when I walked in the door there were a number of people who recognized me. They even printed my old company on my name badge. It always looks classy to cross out the company you once worked for and rewrite whatever company you feel like putting on there. I was tempted to put a random builder on my tag and wait for someone from that random builder to approach me inquisitively wanting to know who I was and when did I start given that they've never seen me around before. In response I would look at them funny as say, "Didn't you hear? I was just hired today to replace your boss." I could only imagine the look on that goofball's face. Oh, my little moments of inward pleasure. Now which way to the jumbo shrimp.

It actually was nice to catch up with some of the people there - that is the one part I actually like. Plus one of the all-star performers on the team that earned me my instrument of blunt trauma is now the Chair Person for the SMC and doing a great job of making membership in the committee worthwhile by bringing in top speakers and experts in the industry (You go girlfriend!).

After mingling and pounding a few drinks the evening's events began. As is customary the program opens with the Pledge of Allegiance and the invocation. Invocations in my experience, although a nice touch, tend to be a rehearsed prayer. Written out and carefully worded to maximize holy sanctimonious pretension in a group setting and tonight's was no exception. That is until our pious sales professional CSP, MIRM, CPR, XYZ, PDQ* giving this prayer reached the end. At this point there was a slight pause and studder signifying that he was no longer following the script and this was all add libbed. Yay, improv!

"...and, and Lord, please bring this housing market back to life as many of us have been hit hard during these tough tough times."

You know those scenes in movies where there is a serious moment of silence or dramatic pause and then someone laughs inappropriately? Last night, I was that someone. I couldn't help it. Some God-given instinct incited a loud laugh at the thought of these "tough times." These same tough times where we just pounded a bunch of free drinks, will shove roast beef and cheese cake down our throats, and then drive our Jaguars home to our 4,000 square-foot houses and catch sportscenter on our big screen plasma TVs. Did I also mention that Houston is the number one housing market in the country?


If you're having trouble foraging for food in these tough times I have an instrument of blunt trauma you can use to hunt rats with. I just have to get it out of the box with all my high school trophies in it. Try to hold on.

*SMC designators to signify a hierarchy of achievement - kind of like being in the Masons.

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