Just Say No to "No"Written by Tony Hendra
“Power Lunch”: Around table, two men and a woman check you out as you talk. You know your firm can double their sales; after weeks of presentations to their flunkies, you want to clinch deal. They, however, loathe prospect of having to make a decision far from safe buck-passing womb of boardroom and E?mail.
The waiter arrives at your table, asking usual "Can I get you something from bar?" Yes, yell your guts, a round of Cosmopolitan Martinis would do us a world of good. Might warm up these flash-frozen bean-counters. But your brain knows better: The mere suspicion of a shadow of a possibility that you'd like a drink will be interpreted to mean your next stop is Betty Ford Center. And that your staff is a gang of FUBAR pinheads from chorus of The Student Prince who fart at word "deadline" and try to fax beer to clients.
So you pass, opting for safe glass of bottled water guaranteed to keep your (and their) mind unmuddled and beans countable. Yes, your pitch is clear, precise, strategic, proactive -and as flat as Evian in your wineglass. You're condemned to more months of review, as teetotaling trio depart, muttering optimistic nothings. Thanks to businesslike lucidity, no business has been done; for lack of liquids, your liquidity is threatened.
No one needs to point out to you that we're becalmed in an economic Sargasso Sea. You make a living if you’re lucky, but zing ain't there. Fifteen years ago, money bred like cockroaches in kitchen cabinet. Thirty-five years before that economy went on a fifteen-year jag of metastatic growth. What did Fifties, that economic Eden we're all trying to get back to - not to mention that carefully edited version of Fifties, Eighties - have that we don't have? A Republican president? Nope. Lower taxes? Uh-uh. It's much simpler than that: People drank at lunch.
You're not paranoid -- the house really hates you!Written by Cathy Goodwin, PhD
Lonesome. When Ms. Angelou moved into a designer house in California, she says, nothing worked. Her pictures didn’t look right on walls. Cakes fell in oven. Curtains fell off rods. The house, she concluded, hated her. And it wasn’t much consolation to realize house hated her husband, too. What I want to know is, how could she tell? Let’s face it, most houses hate their new owners. They have adapted to rhythm of one family and resent being sold. Like most cats that you rescue from pound, your house probably believes, "If I’d waited longer, a better owner would have come along. So I’m going to make this one’s life miserable." Those who are trained in modern research methods will be skeptical, but there’s plenty of evidence. Everyone knows what happens when you move into a new house. "You’ll see a lot of repair services in first six months," I was warned. "When a house hasn’t changed hands in five years or more, lots of little things will happen when you move in." Now, you’ll notice this doesn’t happen when you rent a house or apartment. Some friends of mine rented a house while they saved to buy their own property. For two years, refrigerator purred and air conditioner hummed contentedly. The plumbing flowed silently and insect life remained hidden. Encouraged ("see, a house isn’t so bad after all!") they took plunge and bought their own home. I’d like to say they’re doing great but in fact they’ve dropped out of sight. They can’t take phone calls any more. "Sorry, we can’t tie up this line. We’re holding phone open till we hear from handyman..." Or pest control guy, or electrician. They considered Call Waiting but were afraid to jinx only object in house that seemed to be working.