Hammer Time: Crisis

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time crisis

Holy shit! That’s Mike!” I was flipping through the channels… and there he was. A friend of mine. University of Michigan MBA. Extroverted personality par excellence. Former middle manager at Ford, trying to sell used cars on a public access station. ‘Welcome to the P.T. Barnum world of no shame!” I thought to myself… and God knows I’ve already been there. First there was a Mini (nice car!). Then a PT Cruiser (at least they shined it up). Then the 2078th Impala that was for sale in South Carolina. Then…

I got bored in about five minutes. So I decided to go for a drive and see what passes for business these days in Myrtle Beach. “I need to drop off a couple of letters.” I told the wife… and so the journey to the post office began. At first I noticed the businesses. 200 restaurants. The largest were all you can eat buffets that hocked any type of gimmick to attract the public.

The few skinny American women to be found anywhere on the strip were already there at these eating depots… dressed in mermaid outfits. Giant crab billboard signs and dancing lobsters (in 100+ degree heat!) crowned an endless stretch of cheap T-shirt and chotchky stores. Tatoo parlors. Title pawns. Fast Food joints. A few doctor and dentist offices to service all the collective stupidity. God what a mess.

I realized something in that moment. I’m no better. Even though virtually everyone there was feeding on the trough of cheapness, so was I. The only difference was that I had greater awareness of their habitual parasites, and a far less better understanding of my own.

The addictions of building a business and yet being tethered by my own self-anointed cynicism. A love for making all things better (people, things, situations) had been halved and quartered by a lazy douchebag partner who made an easy living for all my auto auction work. Thankfully, I also had a highly successful car dealership with no partner in sight. Along with an emerging rental car business greatly inspired by the Meir Panim article which had simply taken off like a rocket. My work life was definitely chaotic… but interesting. But I also had way too much stress thanks in great part to the behaviors of other people.

For a talented car guy, I was obviously being pretty friggin’ dumb by stretching myself out so thin and with so little joy to show for it. But then again, it’s very hard to say no to the ideas and opportunities that are in your head. Especially when the bank account swells thanks to your persistence in ‘willing’ those ideas. That success becomes addictive and all consuming. It’s a devil of fiery stress that gathers strength with every passing thought. To the point where the business mind simply never shuts off. You re-think the stresses. Go over the scenarios… and pretty soon you miss half the afternoon with your family.

My late Dad did one thing for 60 years. He imported food. One brother has been in radiology for nearly 20 years now. He has saved countless lives… and is a great family man to boot. The other brother is a bum. But at least he’s been consistent at it since graduating college. For me… the entrepreneurial gadfly… I literally spin the plates of several cottage industries in the hope that none of them get smashed by this recession. Lucrative? Yes. Interesting? Sometimes. But with three spinning plates in the car business… my clarity and focus are starting to go deep south.

And so the mid-life crisis begins. It’s simply amazing what can come to your consciousness on a short drive to the post office.

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4 of 16 comments
  • SherbornSean SherbornSean on Jun 25, 2010

    Maybe its time to buy a Miata?

    • See 1 previous
    • Majo8 Majo8 on Jun 25, 2010

      I highly recommend it. Just bought a 90 Miata for $3800 in great shape. I'm enjoying it more than the slightly modded 07 Mustang that I just sold........

  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Jun 27, 2010

    UM MBA? Schooled in the ways of failing upward, it has finally given him his comeuppance. Maybe he's a nice guy, but the School of DET has been a failure for 30 years. It is equivalent to a Geico School of Cavemen degree.

  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.