Dead Fish in a Box

The chronicles of a suburban fishpimp trying to keep it rural.

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Location: United States

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Two reasons why the middle class is shrinking

Here’s another scintillating conversation I had with a local grocery store:

“It’s a great day at XXXX. How may I help you?” (I hate that greeting. Is there anything more contrived than that?)
“Hi, Seafood department please.”
“Please hold.”
New Person “Deli!”
“Hi, I asked for the seafood department.”
“Well you got the Deli” (You don’t say…)
“Yes I did, but I need to talk to the Seafood department.”
“Well why did she send you to me?”
“I swear I don’t know, sweetheart, but can you transfer me? I really need to talk to the Seafood department.”
“I know, but this is the Deli!”
“You know what? I’ll just call back.”

Which brings me to my next rant:

I went to visit a store we service who was having a grand re-opening (which is a funny concept, since they never closed). They were staffed to the gills. There were demos on every aisle. They were giving away DVD players every 5 minutes. You couldn't walk 5 feet without running into a store employee, heck, there were 15 people in the meat department alone! But when I got to the deli to order me up a sammich I found only one woman. Fortunately, thought I, there was only one person in front of me who happened to be a store employee on a break. Fifteen minutes later the lady is just finishing up the guys sandwich – not sandwiches – just one sandwich – and I’ve heard them give away 3 DVD players. Seconds earlier, the guy behind me decided to cut bait and go to Kidd Valley. I mentioned to the fella in front up me what a well-staffed event they were putting on, and suggested they get some extra help in the deli, seeing as how it was 10:45 and the lunch crowd was soon to arrive. He clearly stated that most of the demo folks were non-union, and therefore, not allowed behind the counter.

“Do you think the guy in line here who just walked out the door cared if they were in a union or not?” I asked him. “I bet he’s going to get a sandwich at Wal-Mart!”

Now, I’m no Wal-Mart fan either, but, honestly, nothing gets my dander up quite like the union mentality. And the icing on this chocolate Rage-berry cake: Not only did it take her 25 minutes to make two sandwiches, but right after the slow sandwich lady finished Jimmy Hoffa III’s lunch she, without even acknowledging me shouts to the lady at the Chinese food station “Hey! I’m going to lunch! Somebody’s gonna have to get over here to do this!” Talk about the epitome of the union stereotype: work slowly and take lots of breaks, especially at inconvenient times.

I bet she’s complaining about the latest contract and how she’s now got a $5 co-pay to get her eyes laziked!

It’s been a tough week, folks. I’ll be flinging wide the doors to yon liquor cabinet when I get home. Wish me luck!

This guy is good

Here's something you don't see every day: a creative Norwegian. He'd fit in real good here at the house of fish.

From Associated Press
Man breaks into apartment then rents it

OSLO, Norway — An enterprising Norwegian found a way to turn a tidy profit on Oslo real estate by renting out a nice apartment in a popular part of town.
What the renters didn't know was that the 29-year-old man, whose name has not been released, had broken in to someone else's apartment and rented it out to 11 different people, national news media reported Tuesday.
Police said the man admitted to breaking into the apartment and posting photographs of it on an Internet real estate site. He then allegedly asked for a bargain 5,000 kroner, or $780, per month in rent.
Since such an apartment normally costs 35 percent more in Oslo, about 60 hopefuls flocked to the con man's showing.
Eleven people were so eager to rent the space they each paid a $2,340 deposit. A total $25,780 was transferred to the swindler's bank account.
Ingrid Christensen, of the Oslo police, told Norway's largest newspaper, Verdens Gang, that the money was found in the suspect's bank account and he would face fraud charges.
The real renter was traveling at the time of the showings and has now changed all the locks.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Simon Says "Bring Donuts!"

Donuts, is there anything they can’t do? – Homer Simpson.

The Rookie formerly known as Baby Huey, now known as The Big Bird overslept. Poor kid. He’s walking around here with a target on his back and he goes and forgets to set the alarm clock. He’s on his way to becoming the next Baron. So he rolls in dressed much nicer than usual (i.e. he actually tucked in his shirt and wore a belt) with 2 boxes of donuts. Word to the Bird, the Bird is the word.

Donuts are a reward here. One may be instantly absolved of any wrongdoing if donuts are presented. One could wear jeans any day of the week if s/he brings donuts. Lose a bet? Donuts. Whiff on sales goals for the week? Donuts. Take up two parking spots in out over croweded parking lot? Sell another rep’s specially ordered monkfish livers, totally ruining his client’s 400-person banquet in the process? Vote for John Kerry? Donuts.

Sleep in? Donuts.

None of us need donuts. There might be one person in here that has a BMI that qualifies them as ‘normal’. Of course anyone who knows anything about the BMI knows it’s bullshit, but my point remains, as a group we’re fat. We don’t need donuts. Perhaps we should have someone bring in SlimFast as a reward.

Unfortunately, Simon doesn’t think that way: “Donuts cures all evils,” He says this morning. “Big Bird, do whatever you want. You can be late every day if you bring donuts.”

Which brings us back to the recurring theme of this Blog: Our Sage of Seafood: Simon. We put the above on the list of Simonisms, along with 5 other gems - we're now upto 20 pages!!!! Here are some highlights of the last week:

* What an industry! They don’t do this at Boeing!
* No wonder you’re looking for a bridge to jump off of, find two, I’ll jump with you!
* Now is not the time to be f***ing up, so if you’re going to get dyslexic, wait until November!
* There’s only one thing you should tell a customer about a new item: “It’s a mild white-fleshed fish. It’s moist & flakey & it tastes like chicken.
* Here we go, he’s vollied the first ball! (fired the first volley).
* It’s not my thigh, I’m just hurtin’ in specific (in general)
*Perception is reality, and as long as I’m sales manager my perception counts!

Have a good one, Amigos, and, as Simon says, “Scorch the Earth!”

Monday, May 23, 2005


I just talked to a local store and the conversation went something like this:

Me: "Hey, how you doing?"
Him: "Terrible. I'm here and it's supposed to be my day off!"
Me: "What's up with that?!"
Him: "The guy who was schedule to work today called up this morning and said 'Yeah, I'm in Las Vegas...'. He called in 'Vegas', man!"

He called in Vegas - that's way cooler than calling in sick.

If you're checking into the Fishpimp for the first time this week keep reading - I've been blogging furiously for the past 24 hours.

Finally, Evidence to Support a Theory

I read this in the Seattle P-I this morning. It may shed light on why I am constantly having to explain myself to my clients.

Complex thinking required to understand sarcasm


Sarcasm is lost on many people, in some cases more than others, because they may be missing part of a complex set of cognitive skills based in specific parts of the brain.
A new study by Israeli psychologists, using patients with damage to different parts of their brains, details an "anatomy of sarcasm" to explain how the mind puts sharp-edged words into context.
The psychologists write in the May issue of the journal Neuropsychology that for sarcasm to register, the listener must grasp the speaker's intentions in the context of the situation. This calls for both sophisticated social thinking and appreciating a "theory of mind," that different people think different thoughts.

Read the full article here

Sunday, May 22, 2005

2 Gun Salute

My granddad passed away last month. He was a pretty incredible guy. Lived to age 93. He was the football coach at Auburn (NY) High School from 1947 to 1958, compiling a record of 71-18-11, including 6 undefeated seasons. Two of the winning streaks he coached are still among the top 10 in New York State history. He went on to coach baseball and had similar success. He retired in 1975 but continued to be involved with the school, running the football scoreboard until just a few years ago. He attended Cortland State University (now SUNY Cortland) where he won 16 varsity letters (Baseball, Football, Basketball, Track). Here's a link to his obit in the Auburn Citizen

None of this athletic prowess was passed on to me. I got cut from the frat IM softball team.

He was also an avid outdoorsman (I did get some of this). For years he stocked the table with game he hunted and produce from the garden he cultivated every summer until his early 90’s. He was a master craftsman; he carved some of the most beautiful gunstocks, all hand-checkered. He carved a lot of them. It must have been cathartic for him. And judging by the state of his house I imagine for a man who came of age in the Great Depression raising kids during the changes of the 1960’s probably needed some serious catharsis. Seriously, I remember it looked like an NRA convention, racks of rifles & shotguns in almost every room. He’d barter them. He traded one of his neighbors a couple hand carved rifles for tickets to fly out to see us in Seattle. He traded another for a Brittney spaniel puppy. When I was back for the memorial service 3 weeks ago people talked about his work in the shop almost as much as his work on the football field.

I’m writing all this because my shoulder hurts like hell today. Grandpa left me two guns: a .22 Kimber bolt action with a stock carved from the most beautiful curly maple you’ll ever lay eyes on (it looks a little like this), and a 20-guage Eastern Firearms side-by-side shotgun with a classic walnut stock. I took the shotgun out for a test-drive yesterday. It’s been a while since I’ve done any skeet shooting, but, man, it was fun.

I was going to write a piece about how ironic it is that the Fishpimp known as “The Treehugger” now owns firearms. But I felt more appropriate writing a little tribute to my grandpa. We weren’t all that close, he lived in NY, and didn’t like to travel, and we didn’t get out of Seattle much, unless it was on a boat, but he embodied everything one envisions when asked to define words like “gentleman”, “sportsmanship”, “class”, and “work-ethic” He was a great man, and I’ll remember that every time I go out for a shoot.

I just wish remembering him didn’t leave my shoulder as black & blue as the barrels on the guns he left me.

Sunday's Musings

Amigos. I've got a lot of partial column ideas floating around, but not enough time to work them up, so I'll just drop them off here:

I work Sunday through Thursday. It's a bit of a drag being on a different schedule than the rest of the world, but it's also nice to start the weekend one day earlier. Sundays I just dial for dollars - most of the calls are for other reps, but hey, we're all one big happy team, and we're not on comission anyway. It's a pretty mellow gig. I spend about 40% of the time on hold, so I've got lots of 2 minute segments of time to throw this together today.

I enjoyed reading the latest-greatest over at the Tangential Jeff Schell today. It reminded me of many of our clients - the people who we trust to be our seafood experts are often no more qualified than the kid making my small blueberry cheesequake blizzard at DQ. Here's the transcript from a call I got a few weeks ago:

“Hi, this is Mike, from store 1234. I want to put together a fish order, can you call me back in 30 minutes?”

“You’re calling me now to ask me to call you in 30 minutes?”
“Why don’t you call me whenever you’re ready?”
“I don’t have a phone.”
“You don’t have a phone?”

Of course that begs the question: “how are we having this telephone conversation if you have no phone?” But I resisted. Arguing with grocery help is futile.

Then there's the guy with the thick Asian accent thinks he sounds cooler if he adds a nice Southern drawl to the mix. He was really cracking me up today. I'd love to do an impression for you, but I just don't think I can make it happen from my keyboard here.

I've also got some non-seafood-counter-clerks-aren't-very-smart things for y'all, but I think I'll put them together for another post.

And one Copper River note: I wrote a whopping $30,000 in sales last week, and I'm stoked - that's up roughly 50% from where I had been for the past month or two. The funny thing is that this time last year I wrote $478,000 in a week. But I handed off the chain of stores that powered that run and am starting from scratch. Simon is fond of saying that the best sales people can take a ball of air and make a territory out of it. He also says a good rep could sell snowmobiles in Miami before long. I wonder if Arctic Cat has a franchize in Florida yet, cause I'm on the way, suckafoo!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Copper River Salmon

CR Kings0001
Originally uploaded by fishpimp.
You see dead fish in a box.

I see cash-money-dollars!

Monday, May 16, 2005

And They're Off!

The fresh seafood season officially kicked off at 9:00 AM PDT today when fishing started on the Copper River outside Cordova, AK. Let the hype begin! Not that I should complain, it's one of the few times in the year that we can actually make a dime or two. It looks to be a pretty good season up there - sonar counts show plenty of fish already in the river, and of course, Simon put his special spin on the situation:

"Either there's a lot of salmon around or there's a Japanese submarine in the river, either way the sonar is pinging like a sonuvabitch!"

The funny thing is that Japanese fishermen are notorious poachers, and I wouldn't put it past them to try something like that - but only if they could pry the sub away from the "whale researchers".

But I digress: Copper River Salmon is delicious & nutritious. Go buy some! Just don't complain about the price - I just work here.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Definition of Insanity

You know what bugs me? Well I’ll tell you: it’s people who complain ad nauseum about a problem but have absolutely no inclination to work toward a solution. We have had several such people employed here throughout the years, but there’s one rep that, in the words of our esteemed general manager, “really frosts my balls”. Here’s the incident that offended my sensibilities last week: Our sales managers here are very fond of the speakerphone. It seems like every call they take goes on the speaker. I don’t know why they prefer it that way, perhaps they can’t be bothered to pick up the receiver; I don’t know, I don’t care - if anything I get to hear a little more gossip. However, the speaker abuse really bugs one rep here. He carries on and on about how rude & distracting it is. He acts like it’s the scourge of the seafood industry; as if the distraction was so great that it’s removal would cause his sales to triple.

If there were such an impediment to my work I’d find a way to either remove it or work around it. In this case, this reps bellyaching was distracting me, so I went to talk to him about it. I asked him if he’d said anything to the managers about turning down the volume. He said no. I wondered if he’d thought about suggesting they get headsets or shoulder rests to keep their hands free. Again he answered in the negative. Had he even mentioned that the noise was a distraction? No. I recited him one of our favorite fishhouse clichés: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting a different result”. If he wasn’t planning on saying anything how did he expect anything to change? At this point he morphed into Captain Passive-Aggressive, and mumbled something about how they’ll never listen to him.

For Pete’s sake people! If you don’t even try how do you know it won’t work? Are you afraid of success? Or is the constant complaining a form of personal entertainment? Whatever it is, fix it and quit frostin’ my balls!