Road Blog - Taking My Half out of the Middle
Monday, November 26, 2012
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Monday, June 27, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Well once the members of SODE’ learned that Gary McCoy, company President had asked for more, we felt obligated to deliver. After all he was the boss.
We spend another week putting together the next issue. We continued and may have even upped the level of intensity. We attacked about 3 or 4 departments in this issue and even more in the subsequent issues. Since
We attacked and attacked, making less effort to cloud who and what we were attacking. Names of departments and certain managers was alluded to and in some cases spelled out entirely. This proved to be a poor decision. I believe if we had been less specific and left names out of the publication all would have gone as expected.
Another bad decision was that we as editors felt we could own up to our efforts. It wasn’t that we put our names on the paper but we didn’t keep our efforts anonymous either. If asked, we all agreed, we would admit we had been behind this. In hindsight it was a good thing that we had disassociated SODE’ with the paper because that would have put all of us, and maybe me individually, responsible for making Kandi cry a year or so earlier.
About 4 issues and 6 weeks later the word came down. Kevin, Bill, Ryan and I were “invited” to the ivory tower at the request of Gary McCoy. As we arrived at the admin office and looked at one another it was clear that no one really knew what was going on. But at the same time we were pretty sure that it had to do with our brainchild “The Mouse That Roared”.
When we stepped into
Well I can’t speak for the other 3 members of SODE’ and coauthors of TMTR but I understood exactly what he meant and needed no further explanation. I reflected back on how foolish I had been in and felt really lucky that I hadn’t lost my job. I never mentioned this to Melodie. The SODE’ cartoons, the issues of TMTR or my brush with unemployment were not known to her until years after I left Mammoth
As we got into the elevator in the tower and headed down to “where we belonged”, there was no snickering or scoffing at how close we had come. We knew we had dodged a large bullet.
However, by the time we got ready to carpool home that night our spirits were lifted up and we came up with one last plan. We decided we needed to cease publication in a classy manner. We took our TMTR masthead and on the front page, just below it, put a large 4” black dot. The next day we sent out 10 copies as usual and let the Xerox crowd do the rest.
There was much speculation as to what it meant. Some thought it was a hidden message. Others thought it represented a hole that the mouse had crawled into. For us it was simply a punctuation mark, a period if you will, indicating that our work was finished.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Well, it didn’t take long for Dave, Earl and I to realize that we may have ruffled either too many or the wrong feathers with the Titanic cartoon. While Dave and Earl were single, I had a family at home. Regardless we all decided that softening the blow and the frequency of the cartoons might be a wise move, if we wanted to keep our jobs. We continued to put out some cartoons but we much more cautious about this effort. Over the next 18 months or so it got to the point where we put nothing out at all.
About 1990 things had not improved much for the company and Earl was caught up in a layoff and a year or so later Dave moved on to other pastures. One could never know if the pasture he moved to was greener or not. Dave was an interesting guy. I remember one afternoon I saw him in our office and noticed that he had missed a button on his shirt which forced his collar to be so off kilter that it stuck up in a very obvious and peculiar way. I simply said, “hey, Dave, you collar is sticking up because you’ve misbuttoned it.” He looked at me and replied, “Oh yeah, I noticed that this morning at break.” and he simply went on with his day. He didn’t care at all. I miss Dave…sorry for that brief tangential walk down memory lane.
I found myself as the lone founding member of SODE`. No one, except for Dave and Earl even knew what the acronym stood for or who was involved. I never spoke of it to anyone.
In the fall of 1991 there was a large layoff at the ski area. Once again moral was down as employees found their friends and co-workers were gone and wondered if they would have a job next week. The company bus and van-system up from Bishop had all but disappeared and we were forced into carpools. I found myself riding with Kevin, Bill & Ryan each and every day.
With nearly an hour drive each way it didn’t take long before the four of us began to complain, once again, about fiscal decisions that seemed harmful to the health of the company. Someone brought up the topic of the cartoons from years past and how they missed SODE`. After a few more drives of this topic I decided I could trust these 3 and tell them of my involvement. After swearing them to secrecy we talked of the originally meaning and purpose of SODE`. They wanted in!!
After contact Dave & Earl and receiving permission to admit them we made it official. Kevin, Bill, Ryan and I were now the only four active members of the newly awakened Secret Order of Disgruntled Employees.
We never discussed any of our activities outside of the car we traveled in. This assured no else knew or overheard. We decided that we did not want to go the path of cartoons and that like a sword, the written word, if carefully wielded could be more effective. A newspaper, written and copied offsite for security reasons, and distributed in the same fashion would be most impactful. The only change is that we would not put the name SODE` on the work. We didn’t want to associate the new campaign with the former campaign at all.
We talked of content, length and format of the newspaper. But what most of the discussion involved was the title. Since
We worked on the first issue of our rag for weeks. There were first efforts and group revisions all done within the drive to and from work. In our first anonymous printing we included some humorous things but we also took some pretty direct editorial shots at departments and at department managers. We were careful not mention anyone by name but our efforts were so clear that it was easy to know who we were targeting. The first edition of TMTR grew from the initial 10 copies until we noticed them on nearly every desk. It was a huge response as far as distribution went.
About a week after the first issue was released there was a normally scheduled department manager’s meeting in the ivory tower. I heard this story from my manager who was in attendance. Normal matters of business were discussed and then towards the end, Gary McCoy, son of Dave McCoy (brother to Kandi), and President of Mammoth Mountain stood. He slow held up a copy of TMTR and said something like, “I don’t know where this came from, (pause) I don’t know who is behind this, (longer pause) but this is some of the best damn writing I’ve seen in a long time. I want more of it. It’s efforts like this that keep us thinking and keeps us on our toes.”
This proclamation didn’t take long to reach the members of SODE` and in our subsequent drives we talked of what our next step would be.
Within a matter of a few weeks we gave Gary McCoy exactly what he asked for. The question is, “Did he get more than he bargained for?”.
To Be Continued. “The Next Issues and Period”
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Disclaimer # 1. The actions of the individual(s) described in this blog were foolish. I was a much younger and shall we agree a stupider individual 20 plus years ago. May the follies of my youth not hinder me any further than they already have.
Disclaimer # 2. I have changed the names of all guilty participants in order to protect them from any association with the imminent description of said stupid actions. It is possible that some of the participants may still be employed at this business.
Ok…with that out of the way I’ll get started. In the mid to late 80s I worked for Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. It was then a large, family owned ski resort that employed about 600 people year round and nearly 1500 during the peak of the ski season.
Many of the department managers, capable as they were, had worked themselves up through the employee ranks from the 60s and 70s and enjoyed what seemed to be quite an easy existence. They were provided company vehicles, free gas and seemed to do very little but drive around. It appeared that they spent most of their time skiing, golfing and cycling. Looking back with more years of experience I’d have to say they probably worked a lot harder than I knew.
This was also a challenging time for the company. They had purchased a much smaller ski resort,
I had two fellow employees, Dave & Earl, whom I shared a common office with. We would sit there and discuss all of the bad decisions the company was making, the cash we seemed to be dumping into
Earl was a cartoonist by hobby and one day showed Dave and I some things he had worked up. They were essentially some rough “corporate political commentary” cartoons. This innocent effort turned into our first official plan. We decided to draw up some well-done cartoons that allowed us to exhibit our frustration. Once we completed enough we would distribute them around the company and see what reaction we got. Our plan was to distribute 1 cartoon each week and each cartoon would be signed SODE` giving credit and credence to this unknown organization.
We drew up four or five. Dave, Earl and I all had a hand at creation but some were better than others. We knew that we could not do any of this drawing at work so we worked on them on our own time. We also knew that if caught making copies of these cartoons with company copy machines that could be problematic. So our decision was to copy them at a public machine, which in those days meant a library or Safeway, and then simply post them, clandestinely, around. We would make only 10 copies of each cartoon. We put 2 or 3 in a few mailbox cubbyholes in the mail room and we posted the rest near time clocks in multiple buildings. We were pretty confident that if we kept it simple our fellow employees would become our distribution network with very little encouragement on our part.
The first cartoon that we posted was of a company truck, logo and all, with bicycles mounted in the back. In the truck were two managers with $$ dollar signs coming out of the tailpipe. It was that simple. The statement was made and the SODE` movement had been launched. Within days there were many copies of this cartoon circulating throughout the company. There was a lot of buzz about who this “person SODE” was. The three of us joined in the discussion as if we knew nothing of it.
After a few more cartoons had been distributed in the same fashion we put out our most controversial cartoon. This depicted Mammoth Mountain Ski Area as the Titanic and
A week or so later there was a company wide meeting where about 500 employees gathered in the lunchroom. The company was in financial trouble and the owners felt like we needed to know what the plan was to climb out of debt and back into prosperity.
Dave, Earl and I found a seat near the front of the hall and sat at a table not too far from the family. There were introductory comments and then it was opened up to a Q & A. We had no plans to ask questions but there were many who did. One of the questions offered was about the financial viability of
Kandi stood and began to do her best to answer the question but her answers seemed so empty. Then things went from bad to worse. She began to get emotional and teary eyed. While this was unfolding I glanced over at the family and some of them were lowering their eyes and shaking their heads in embarrassment. I’m sure they felt that this was no way for a company President to act. I was embarrassed for them and for her. Then things went terribly awry.
Kandi, through her tears and intermittent sobbing said the following, “We here at
Dave McCoy, her dad, stood up and tried to gain control of the situation and give us all hope but the damage had been done and the meeting quickly came to an end.
Dave, Earl and I couldn’t even look at each other. We left the meeting and met up a few minutes later in our office. Although there was some laughter and some congratulations about how much of an impact SODE` had had on this meeting, we did feel bad. Our intention was to be a thorn in the side of the corporation, cause some discussion and hopefully some change. It was never our goal to embarrass an individual or make this personal. Nonetheless that is what we had accomplished so far. It would be a year or more before SODE made another impact. This one was much larger.....
To Be Continued. “Dormancy and Resurgence of SODE`”
Thursday, July 29, 2010
So I finally have gotten around to writing the fourth part of my 3-part story. Just the fact that I have taken this to 4 parts has been enough to discourage me from finishing. However, if I don’t get it done this week it will be mid to late August before I do and it’s already been too long since I posted Part 3. So here goes. The events that followed the trial and acquittal of Joe Green transpired over many months but will be condensed here as if it was only a few weeks.
Once I learned that I would be a witness in this trial I was informed that my travel and lodging expenses would be covered by the City of
I questioned that decision. There were full time police dispatchers that had spent their entire time sitting in a rolling chair in front of the radios who were also being required to testify. They would received travel & living, PLUS lost wages. I protested. They didn’t budge. I asked them the following question. “If I was self employed and had been asked to take off days at a time to testify, there would be no compensation?” The answer was yes and if you don’t like it, you can resign from the fire department. Well, the end result was that I took time off, with pay, from my job but I was not happy with the way it had been handled.
Months after the trial had ended I decided to contact the CSFA (California State Firefighters Association) about my concerns. I was put in touch with the liaison to the Volunteer Departments. After many phone calls and letters written, explaining the situation the CSFA committee for volunteers decided this was a cause worth championing. I worked for many months with a state Senator (name long forgotten) and his staff person, Terry, to get a bill authored and to a committee for consideration. The bill would require city and counties to pay volunteer firefighters for lost wages when they are required to testify in court proceedings stemming from their volunteer firefighting efforts.
In the spring of 1992 I was invited to come to
The next day we arrived at this senator’s office and were given tours and other fun stuff prior to my testimony. We had a great lunch in a nice Chinese restaurant not too far from the capitol.
Testimony came and went.