Sometimes when I read or see something about business or politics I get a little tweak in my head. I read or hear a statement and I feel a unexplainable void. Almost like I am chewing something that looks amazing but tastes awful, and the chef has neglected to mention it’s literally made of shit. I read a ad on the subway a few weeks back and here’s how I came to my possible conclusion…
My mother worked like 80 hrs a week as a CNA (certified nurse assistant) at a hospital to make sure we had a roof over our head and at least some food in our stomach’s. I was really socially awkward and have the time my friends (I did have some) didn’t even understand me.
I was so lonely one day I was walking through my neighborhood when I walked past a pool hall. Satyr Hill Cue Club and it’s still there to this day. But up until that moment the only thing I remember about that cue club was the year before I was 15 and we tried to get in during New Years and they let everyone in but me. I cried like a bitch, God I was such a pussy back then.
So when I walked by this place at 16 I was determined to go in. You know, just to stick it to the asshole that didn’t let me in. The result was quite the opposite and changed my life.
I was allowed in and started playing in the back, I was horrible and didn’t understand pool any further than one episode of Quantum Leap I had seen as a kid. But I was unknown and didn’t care. One of the regulars (who I still chill with to this day) came up and offered to teach me to play for 2 dollars a game. We negotiated to 50 cents a game and the lesson began.
Once acclimated into the group I quickly realized that these were the leftovers from other social groups all over Baltimore. I just happened to be lucky enough to live right down the street. These were the odd gems no one appreciated enough to polish but were of great value to my past and current trains of thought.
Sometimes we would just skip school and sit in the pool hall all day and play cards, pool and tell each other riddles. Always trying to out smart the other by the turn of a phrase or lie of omission.
I quickly learned that how things are said is what sells you and what is left out is usually of more importance. I will give an example of a true story before I get to the whole reason I wrote this post.
(ex.) Me and a good friend, we will call him Chris (actually his name) were playing pool one night late. It was probably around 10;30 and I was kicking the shit out of Chris in 9 ball. I mean I had just drilled him 7 or 8 games in a row. This is significant because Chris is a way better pool player than myself. I have always speculated that if he stuck with it he would have at the very least been semi-pro.
Anyways Chris is getting frustrated and I being a true friend abuse my right to gloat. Pool much like politics it is sometimes as much about fucking with your opponents head as it is actually playing the game. After working him up I carpe diem that shit and propose a bet. Bets go on unofficially in a busy pool hall appox. every 6 minutes.
Here’s the bet I proposed. Look at the conversation and see after looking at my statement you can guess what facts I have decided to omit to have this bet sealed up before it even starts. It’s not what’s said, it’s always what is not said.
Chris: “Dude, you really think your better than me? Really?
Me: “It appears today I am. Today I got your number, I own you”
Chris: “Seriously ?”
Me: “In fact I will bet you 100 fucking dollars that you will not beat me for the rest of the night!”
Me: ” I am deadly fucking serious you washed up pussy”
Chris: “Your on asshole”
(We shake hands)
Now while I might have embellished some of the dialogue know that it was something very close if not harsher than I remember. But the set up is in place. I have already one this bet because of the facts omitted. After this sentance I am going to jump back into the story so if you want to guess the hustle on your own stop reading now…
Me: “Ok douche, it’s a bet?”
Chris: “Fuck yeah!”
Me: “Great, Steve (owner) turn the table off I’m done playing tonight?”
The look on his face was priceless. He knew instantly he had lost and we didn’t even have to touch the balls on the table! The bet was that he wouldn’t beat me in pool for the rest of the night, well if I won’t play another game with him for the rest of the night I win by default.
Now I never took Chris’s money because we were and are family but this does illustrate how facts being omitted can drastically alter what you think about that statement. Obviously had I told Chris everything he would not have taken the bet. But because I left out key facts he was unaware of what he was agreeing to.
Politicians and business men very often operate under the same methods although they are not playing with their friends and they will not be giving back the money. Because my mother wasn’t around and I grew up in a pool hall practicing creative thinking drills on a daily basis I watch TV and read ads looking for the diversion, for the omitted facts. Thanks Mom.
Here’s an ad I read on the subway station a few weeks ago, printed by the MTA (Mass Transit Authority).
MTA ad: ” What’s new? Fewer phone numbers. We have gotten 116 different lines down to just 3, soon we’ll get it to 1.”
Now again I didn’t get to copy the whole ad just the gist. It might not be verbatim but it’s is pretty close.
Now with just this information your like “wow the MTA really cares”. My life is going to be so much easier when I call the MTA for all my mass transit issues. I instantly looked for the omission. Not all ads are lying but some just feel wrong.
That’s all I can say. It’s like I was staring at a puzzle that supposedly was complete but there is a row missing. I know what the picture is but what happened to that missing row?
So I asked myself where’s the grift? And then it hit me it was in the numbers. 116 to 3. Well that’s that I only have to deal with 3 number but what happened to all the jobs of the people answering the other 113 lines? Either they relocated them, in which case I am asshole who sometimes read too deeply into shit, or the mass transit just had a mass layoff and are advertising it.
I hope I am just an asshole who told you a cool personal story about the time I hustled a friend during a pool game. I doubt it but even if I am just talking out of my ass about the MTA ad.It was just the ad that sparked the train of thought. It just sparked the idea presented.
It really doesn’t matter whether or not this particular ad was a turd that was polished, I am just saying there are tons of turds polished to perfection and you need to dig in and sniff to find out whether or not they are full out shit…
But imagine how bad it would suck if I was right. If you were a man or woman who got laid off and you were riding the train a few weeks later just to realize they had packaged the ending of your career into a positive PR campaign.
( Note: I did absolutely zero research into this other than read a random subway ad. I could be (and hopefully am) totally wrong and those 113 phones could be being answered by people who get mandatory blow jobs on their lunch break. Blow jobs where everybody swallows. But hopefully it illustrates how we can and should question things.)