Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dear Hank (An Unsolicited Advice Column)

  In my recent post ‘An Evening with C.A.’ I helped a young man determine what he wanted to do with his life in just a few hours after years of poor advice and befuddlement. The post was such a staggering success (one person liked it on Facebook and another person clicked the ‘interesting’ reaction at the bottom of the post) that I’ve been inundated with people asking for the kind of salient, no-nonsense problem solving advice that I gave that young man (a person at the Quik Trip asked me if I knew where the restroom was and another asked me if I knew how they could get to Highway 14) so I thought I’d answer some of these questions and perhaps launch a new career as an advice columnist.

Dear Hank,
  I am a retired businessman who made millions of dollars running a Fortune 500 company and I decided to run for the open Senate seat from the State of Iowa as a Republican. I spent over a million and a half dollars of my own money on my campaign and blanketed the state in advertising how I would bring my business know-how to Washington and offered great ideas like selling the vast energy resources on government lands to balance the budget. But despite my best efforts I finished third in the primary election behind a state senator who made ads about knowing how to castrate pigs and a radio talk show host. I may have another chance to run a Senate campaign in two years and I want to know what I need to do differently to win the next time around. - Mark in Iowa

Dear Mark in Iowa,
  First things first – stop talking about how you will run Washington like a business if you get elected. Even if you get elected you’ll just be one of more than 500 elected officials and it’s not like you’ll be the CEO or anything. Let’s face it – if people really wanted the government run like a business do you think the government would be over $17 TRILLION DOLLARS in debt? Of course not! Voters vote for people who will give them more and more from the government and they don’t care where the money comes from as long as it comes from somewhere. Look in today's paper at the new student loan forgiveness guidelines. Who do you think the drunk and high on cocaine college kids of the world like C.A. and his ilk are going to vote for once they get out of school and discover that being drunk and high on cocaine for four years left them with a mountain of student loan debt and the kind of low paying job you get after spending four years drunk and high on cocaine? The candidate who will vote to balance the budget or the candidate who will forgive their loans (irrespective of their hog castration experience).

  If you insist on talking about your business experience discuss how you get the better of all your business deals and how you’ll use that experience to bring more money into Iowa than the people of the state pays to the government. Since you have experience running a non-profit corporation talk about how you want to run Washington like a charity and tell everyone about all the things they will be able to get with all the government money you will bring in the state. Then you can make your own goofy commercials about people driving their Cadillac Escalades with large screen TV’s into their trailer parks. Once you get people thinking about driving their big cars with giant TV’s into their trailer park homes, they’ll forget all about the hog castrating videos and you’ll be well on your way to victory.

Dear Hank,
  A company has called about setting up a FiltroPur demonstration in my home and has told me I would receive a $100 gas card just for having the demo. I saw the blog post about your FiltroPur demonstration and I know that I’ll probably only get an offer for ten $10 gas vouchers. I still want the money so I want to know if you ever got any money from your demo? – Loving Me a Benjamin

My second gas voucher rebate check from International Rebates took as much work as getting the first one!

Dear Loving Me a Benjamin,
  Glad you asked. So far I’ve sent in 5 rebate vouchers. The pattern by this point is obvious. I received a $10 voucher form by email in December, January, but not in February. At the end of February, I called International Rebates (the company that handled the rebates) and stayed on hold for a half hour before getting a person who sent me a new voucher within the hour and told me that my first rebate check would be delivered in the next week. I then waited two weeks and after I received no check I called the rebate company again. I stayed on hold for a half hour and when the rebate person answered I was told my first rebate check would be delivered in the next week. I then stayed on the phone for an hour asking the following three questions in repetition: 1. Why didn’t I get my rebate check? 2. When will I get my rebate check? 3. Did the company get any of my rebate vouchers? I received a rebate check for $20 (not 2 $10 rebate checks) in three days.

  I received my voucher forms for March and April but not for May. I sent International Rebates an email 2 weeks ago to let them know that I did not receive a May voucher and that I should have received my February rebate. The company called back to let me know that my rebate check was on the way and that I would be receiving a new voucher shortly. I received neither so last Monday I called International Rebates and stayed on hold for a half hour before getting a person who sent me a new voucher within the hour and told me that my first rebate check would be delivered in the next week. I didn’t wait two weeks this time but I stayed on the phone for a half hour asking the following three questions in repetition: 1. Why didn’t I get my rebate check? 2. When will I get my rebate check? 3. Did the company get any of my rebate vouchers? The rebate person eventually hung up so I called again and got another rebate person and I asked the same three questions for another half hour before they hung up also. I received another $20 rebate check last Friday dated the day after I called.

The quickest LEGAL way to a Benjamin remains working for it...

  So I’ve received $40 from International Rebates but counting the FiltroPur demonstration I’ve spent at least six hours getting the $40. When I subtract the $3 in postage I’ve made approximately $6.17 an hour getting my rebate money so I suggest that unless you have a disability that prevents you from working ditch the FiltroPur demo, go to a place like QPS Employment in Marshalltown, get a real job for a couple of days, and you’ll be loving a Benjamin much faster.

Dear Hank,
  I run a very successful NBA franchise. Our team nearly made the NBA Finals last year and started this season with the best record in the NBA after two months. We faltered after the All-Star break but still managed to finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference. We made it to the conference finals but lost to the Miami Heat in six games. Lance Stephenson is one of our best players but is also a free agent. If we keep him we will have to go over the salary cap and pay a luxury tax. He is an amazing talent but was increasingly erratic as the playoffs went on. He smacked a player in the face, went into the opposing teams huddle during time outs, and made himself a media laughingstock by blowing in LeBron James’ ear and then pushing him in the face during the conference finals. If I let Stephenson leave in free agency I worry it will tear the team apart because it will look like we’re too cheap to have a winner but if I keep him I worry that his immature antics will tear the team apart despite his all-star play and unlimited potential. What do you think I should do? – Larry in Indiana

Dear Larry in Indiana,
  Lance Stephenson is super talented but he is also an accident waiting to happen. His antics remind me a lot of Ron Artest, a former player of yours who also had immense talent but also had a deep seated need to be the center of attention and a penchant for immature antics that polarized every team he played for. He ruined your team for half a decade in 2004 after he got suspended for a year when he jumped into the stands at Detroit and got into a fistfight with the fans. Your organization has proven adept at finding low-cost quality players in the draft and free agency and while your team may suffer in the short term by letting Stephenson go I believe you will come up with other talented replacements. There is no reason to have a walking time bomb like Lance Stephenson on your team. After all, your team didn't win the East with Lance Stephenson and your can certainly not win the East without him. My advice is to let Stephenson go, build your team around Paul George and Roy Hibbert, and find yourself another point guard. As nice a player as George Hill is he is not a starting point guard on an NBA championship team (although he would be a tremendous backup on one).