I never cease to be amazed at the continual so-called “award ceremonies” which Palmetto Goodwill seems to create out of thin air. These folks are always massaging each other’s egos by handing out wall plaques, framed letters of recognition, and trophies by the barrel full. Gaze into any executive office at their headquarters and you would most likely see a mass of not only internally manufactured award excreta but countless awards from other organizations as well. These people trade awards like ghetto clinics hand out free needles.
Don’t get me wrong. I am comforted by a wall covered with recognitions relating to an individual’s proficiency as a dentist, veterinarian, civil engineer, certified public accountant, and so forth and so on.
*Whenever I walk into an office of one of these so-called “charitable” institutions and see walls plastered with these useless wads of conceit and self-deception, the person behind the desk will invariably start blathering incessantly…waiting expectantly for me to express servile appreciation for the profound privilege of basking in the perfume of their perfected self.
Occasionally they will stop to focus on me…displaying a smirk of superiority. It is as if they are laughing at an inside joke that I am incapable of understanding…using me as a test subject for techniques they gleaned from the latest best seller on executive intimidation.
I dare not interrupt or nod off lest they leap from their chair and slam me against the wall of dubious honors while screaming, “Kiss Them All, You Unworthy Bucket of Pus!”
My mind is playing its usual tricks.
Occasionally they will stop yapping just long enough for me to utter a faint “Yup”…to which they will nod agreeably, make soft clicking sounds, and continue their panting autobiographical discourse.
I must resist the urge to force out a loud fart followed by a stirring rendition of “How Great Thou Art” on my kazoo.
My brain hurts. I look at the fool across the desk and imagine that I am watching a giant toad in an office full of flies…tongue flickering about incessantly, smacking its thin lips as each struggling, flapping morsel is snapped up and absorbed. More toads hop by in the hallway, each one stopping to share in the bounty:
“Morning Bossman! Say…that is a FAT ONE sitting on your pencil sharpener! Mind if I gulp it down?”
When these clueless, clucking narcissists stumble into their cubbyholes each morning, they pause to take it all in…perhaps imagining that their awards will start pulsating to a chorus of dissonant huzzahs…celebrating the return of their loved one:
“You are so excellent!
All hail your glimmering perfection!
Rise up and take your place!
For God, himself has chosen
To place your steady, guiding hand
O’er the groveling, unworthy masses!”
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Longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer once said: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Goodwill was started in 1902 through small-scale efforts by Edgar J. Helms to help the poor. This humble Methodist minister from Boston would be shocked at what became of his efforts: Today it is a 4 billion dollar per year mega-business that has followed the Hoffer scenario to a T.
In the case of Palmetto Goodwill, it seems destined that this racket will slop (or slither) into the waiting arms of Crown Prince David Smith…the son of the omniscient one. Here is a peek into the educational achievements and employment history of the chosen one:
David A. Smith-
Current: Director of Information Systems, Loss Prevention, E-commerce, and Environmental services, Palmetto Goodwill
Previous: Circuit City, BBS Computers, Frankie’s Fun Park
Education: Kaplan University
Kaplan U? Did I hear someone in the past refer to this esteemed online university as “Oxford of the Bowery?” Then again, perhaps it’s something that I just made up.
My mind reels. I hope he went all the way in this disciplined online endeavor. Inquiring minds want to know. Did he graduate or just get a certificate of attendance?
Does Kaplan sell a class ring? Does it squirt water? Does it buzz when you shake someone’s hand? Do they offer a lollipop ring? What are my chances of finding a Kaplan ring in a box of Cracker-Jacks?
I can picture the scene when the decision is made:
Hot summer day…David is at Frankie’s Fun Park. He is standing on a tall ladder…helping to dislodge a morbidly obese, puking fifteen-year-old prankster from the kiddie water slide.
A courier rushes up and hands him a note:
Yes, indeed! It is a short trip from Kaplan U to Frankie’s Fun Park to the throne room. Who ever thought a court jester could sire a dynasty? Of course, the sycophants in the executive boardroom can see the writing on the wall and will be very careful to cultivate their relationship with the heir apparent…he who clutches his resume as if it was inscribed on a granite slab that popped out from a burning bush and clobbered him in the forehead.
I wonder if, someday, this future CEO’s bio will somehow be transformed into a rags-to-riches scenario rather than the straightforward case of nepotism that it is? Will little Davey, like Daddy before him, have his own phony back to Jesus moment? Will the worshipful PR team at HQ construct a mythic personal victory against all odds? (Follow table of contents to your right and read “Yet Another Palmetto Goodwill Success Story.” That’s Daddy Bob’s story…and a real tear-jerker it is.)
Will Davey be called upon to address his alma mater in the future? Do online universities stage commencements? If not, maybe they can make an exception. Just make sure that the publicity shots focus on the grinning, grunting, tongue flipping toads seated next to him as he toots his own horn from the podium.
…and not on the sparse, inattentive audience…
Must ignore the old Hispanic janitor standing at the back of the room, listening to Mariachi music through headphones and swaying about with his mop and bucket…eyes closed and lost in thoughts of vaginas not explored. He looks at the speaker and mutters “Chocha”…
Must also ignore the distant buzzing of a kazoo…
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*Part of this post has its germ in an actual experience. For about three years I did volunteer work at a charity thrift store. Occasionally I would go into the manager’s office where she would regale me with the ongoing, play-by-play saga of her winged pets. She had bunches of parrots and other domesticated birds and even had a rather substantial aviary in the back of her house.
If one of her charges got sick, I had to listen to the intricate details of the critter’s health issue and was expected to express my profound sorrow and sincere hope that the birdie would get better. Over the next week or so I would be cornered and given daily updates.
One day she called me into her office to ask me a question about eBay. I was a very experienced seller and she knew little or nothing about online selling. I can’t remember exactly what she wanted to know but I do remember it was a bit on the technical side. I wasn’t a minute and a half into unraveling this mystery for her when she suddenly blurted out: “My eyes are starting to glaze over!”
Rude, stupid woman. I listened to the interminable, droning, and quite detailed monologues about her bird hobby without expressing any outward signs of boredom and it was just way too much effort for her to extend the same courtesy to me.
She had a lot of awards on her office wall.
Birds of a Feather
Postscript: This unnamed thrift store was also the target of massive donation theft. It was even more egregious than that which occurred at the Goodwill Pound Store in that the thieves were members of the board of directors. They would routinely carry piles of high-quality donations out to their vehicles without paying a red cent for them. The bird loving manager was powerless and afraid to take action.