Thursday May 25, 2017

As children, we’re protected by our own ignorance. You think of the average child, growing up and coming into contact with other children. What do they see? Who do they know? It’s easy at 55 to say, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” How many figurative bullets we dodged growing up protected by our own ignorance. My sister said to me this morning when talking about this very thing, “That’s the way Mom and Dad wanted it for us.” I think, now, after the conversation my sister and I had this morning that a debt of gratitude is owed to my parents for that very thing. The reason is because of where we grew up and how we grew up. Typically, in the mid-1960s, early 1970s, Albany Park in Chicago was one of those neighborhoods where children were not experiencing anything all that similar to children growing up in say, Humboldt Park or Cabrini Green. But we did have our share of, “issues.”

I recall the explosions we heard from the “deep tunnel project” that sounded like large booms growing up at Lawrence and Sacramento, a block or two from the south entrance to River Park and a block or two west of the Chicago River. Perhaps a weather scare or two where we needed to run the the basements of our large apartment buildings for cover and safety until the storms passed. Growing up we espoused the notion you pretty much knew everyone on your block that was similar to you in age with whom you crossed paths walking to and from school. Daily bike rides that never went much further than only a few blocks from home. Our purview of people, places and things around us was limited being protected by our own ignorance. Rose colored glasses and hindsight do some very strange things to us later in life for our own sanity’s sake. But they also block out what was really going on sometimes.

Living in Albany Park was not idyllic by any stretch of the imagination at Monticello and Leland, our next neighborhood after Lawrence and Sacramento. “Kids will be kids,” is something we heard our teachers whisper in our school hallways to each other as the solution to the philosophical syllogism, 1) Kids are protected by their own ignorance, 2) You cannot protect children from nor predict which children will be touched by violence, murder, robbery and urban blight in neighborhoods in Chicago in the 1970s leading to the syllogistic conclusion, 3) kids will be kids. This is how most conversations ended back then. There wasn’t any of this stuff we now have in our schools today. And for as naive and rose-colored and “old-person reminiscing” all that sounds, there comes a time when one does recall being touched by something other than the Pleasant Valley Sundays of our youth and being protected by our own ignorance.

The second you see someone other than yourself doing something perhaps, different. Assembling and working on a “minibike” in a northside alley behind an apartment building or bungalow. Kids in the park clustered, smoking cigarettes. Kids playing with matches or fireworks. Snakes. Bottle Rockets. Loud voices uttering expletives, standing around laughing, pushing each other, playful shoving. Alley softball games. Pinners. (A game where you bounced a ball on the lowest stair on set of stairs as pitcher and the outfielder was the person catching that bounced ball as it flew off and away from the bounce. I think only nothsiders played, “pinners”.) None of these things alone or by themselves – individually – remarkable in any way. But the second you’re called over from your own reality, taken from your own head and brush up against a, “pack mentality”? A different world. “Look at what those kids are doing over there.” Etc.

No longer protected by your own ignorance. Not protected by by what my sister said earlier today as something, “Mom and Dad wanted for us.” A slippery slope. I’m not going to recount whose lives were touched by theft, violence, ignorance or anything one might experience going out into the world. Suffice to say, we all know someone, “who. . . .”

Today, I take a step back and thank whatever Power that might exist that I had the upbringing I had, was able to avoid – for the most part – the worst things happening in a changing world in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Albany Park in Chicago. And today I thank for the fact I have people who understand what it is I’m trying to say here in today’s blog. it’s not easy growing up in any decade, any neighborhood and what point along the childhood to maturity spectrum you find yourself. Temptations and other influences exist everywhere all the time protected or unprotected by your own ignorance.

You pray for families whose lives were touched by those challenges and you tell your parents you love them. And you thank them for raising you as they did.

Because that’s what human beings do.

And because not everyone ever is completely protected by their own ignorance.

🙂

MJC

Post # 1191. Word Count. 867

Friday May 12, 2017

At the very same moment you’re listening to Danny Lobell talk to Jackie Mason in a diner, then flash forward to Jay Mohr being asked by Norman Lear if he is a writer while Gilbert Gottfried is listening to Howie Mandell explain how a comic – in today’s world – has more to protect and less opportunity to live, thrive and survive, Kelly Carlin is playing a piece written and recorded by Taylor Negron and then Kevin Pollak is interviewing Dave Coulier or Henry Winkler, you realize Marc Maron finally got his answer from Lorne Michaels and had just interviewed President (at the time) Barack Obama within a few weeks of each other and it all starts making sense. Time stands still. You ask yourself, why Adam Carolla? Or Inappropriate Earl? Or why Lauren Lapkus? Why Ronna and Beverly? Why Chris Jericho, Steve Austin or even Leonard Maltin? Why? Why? Why? Podcast overload.

No.

More like heaven. More like what you unknowingly wished Steve and Garry, Kevin Matthews, Johnny B. would have become but on steroids. Podcasts (audio-on-demand) with some really amazing people who put themselves out there, brought the funny (doctors heal, plumbers plumb and comedians comede) and you become settled within yourself and you listen. Interviews. Improv. Conversation. Not just any old conversations. Conversations you wouldn’t normally hear anywhere else except through the contacts these hosts have made over the course of their lives or through the access they have bored into the pantheon of American humorists. Or authors. Writers. Actors. Producers. Directors. Etc. Improv the likes of which you might receive seated in a living room filled with people like Martin Short, Steve Martin and Martin Mull. It’s the people holding court and the people they talk to. Or play with. It’s a feeling you either understand or you don’t while you’re listening. The names might be important or they really aren’t important at all.

It’s that the bridge between who is left for us on this big blue marble and those who deem these individual’s stories important enough to be preserved for prosperity and it’s all taking place for your ears. For you to enjoy. It cannot be overstated enough that the Jonathon Winters interview on the WTF Marc Maron podcast is something everyone should listen to. Or Danny Lobell interviewing Jackie Mason. Or the Gilbert Gottfried interviewing Sonny Fox podcast. Kelly Carlin and Carol Burnett’s daughter. Kevin Pollak and Bill Burr (among the others I mentioned above) and recently, Norman Lear on the Jay Mohr podcast. These things are “must see t.v.” – for your ears. How do you shake someone up enough to listen? Tell them how much things like this bring the, “nachus.”

How?

By continuing to listen. By mentioning to someone, “If you’ve never heard the Caesar Romero story,” told by Gilbert Gottfried, or the “Tom Cruise gave me a pen once” story on Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, you haven’t lived. If you’ve never heard Lauren Lapkus and her myriad guests create improv from scratch, if you’ve never heard Beverly bounce off the walls while Ronna’s, “…in any event…” make you realize you’re listening to improv greatness? If none of these things impress you or interest you? Move along. But if you’re interested in Neil Young or David Crosby telling Marc Maron about their lives? If you’re wondering whatever happened to Louie Anderson, Jay Mohr or have the slightest inclination toward knowing what The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson meant to the people whose lives were changed by appearing as guests on that show – then you’ll listen to Mark Malkoff interviewing Brett Butler or Tom Dreesen. You’ll do it. You’ll download a cell phone app called, Podcast Junkie or Podcast Haven or some such idiotic application name of a program that seeks our podcasts and downloads them to your phone and you’ll invest in an aux cable or earbuds or a car adapator or what have you and you’ll listen.

You’ll just listen.

To podcasts.

They won’t frighten you or be this, “foreign” thing.

And you’ll be in awe when astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has a comedian on his Star Talk podcast or be in awe at a radio-like teleplay dramatized with sound effects by a company named Panoply producing things like The Message, or #lifeafter and be in awe.

Literal awe.

At all the cool stuff out there.

Out (points to some place down the road a piece) …there.

🙂
MJC

05-12-17

Post # 1190. Word Count: 769.

Friday May 05, 2017

People say things. Well they say a lot of things. Particularly if they communicate. If they’re bumps on logs who keep to themselves, not so much. One of the things people say is that it’s really not cool to spend any time in life complaining. Or to sound like you’re complaining. Or grousing. It’s time wasted. Wasted energy. I tend to agree with that. Mostly. But then again, if you’re a very spirited and expressive communicator and know yourself, your limits and what seems to be a reasonable expectation in other people’s behavior or in the natural course and flow of life, you might tend to sound like you’re complaining a lot when the truth of the matter is you’re just, “telling it like it is.” A lot of times that sounds like complaining. For example, like when life hands you lemons. What do you do?

If you’re a writer, you juggle them for your audience.

If you’re that one funny magician dude from the 1980s, you replace the lemons with a small handled tree axe, a bowling ball and an apple and you juggle those. Imagine those kinds of problems. You thought juggling lemons was tough. Didn’t he used to eat the apple while he was juggling? What about that guy who used to juggle three chainsaws? He came up with the idea. You think he ever complained? That was his act! But I digress. You hit a rough patch in life. You get lemons. You tend to write a lot. You use your lemons as your drive, your impetus – to describe – from your perspective – what juggling lemons is like for you. Not the fact that you received lemons at all but how you deal with those lemons is what everyone’s looking at now. So you juggle them. Like a circus clown. The real issue is what did you want life to give you? “A nice mutton lettuce and tomato sandwich where the mutton is nice and lean, with the tomato. It’s so perky! I love that.” (Apologies to The Princess Bride.)

(Apologies to Coach Ditka) In life, doodoo happens. Stuff. Accidents. Life. Situations arise. Circumstances occur. Sometimes you’re the statue. Sometimes, the pigeon. Complaining gets you nowhere. No one wants to hear your complaints. Everyone’s got stress. Blah, blah. blah. Sometimes that stress blinds you to the most obvious of solutions; the simplest fix. The easy way out gets blocked by wanting to complain and not seeing things as clearly as when things run smoothly. It sucks. Not everything can always be fixed. But, too, in life, not everything is the end of the world. Your coping mechanisms are usually a learned behavior. Those aren’t always the best ways to deal.

So you juggle.

Like this blog.

The breaking point is not something that should be within arms reach at any given moment with average, adult, first world problems. Should it? The measure of the truly self-actualized individual is in how gracefully they accept and handle life’s little hiccups.

Once, while performing sound engineering on a video shoot at a wedding, bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah or some such banquet, being attached to the videographer’s video deck and carrying around a pole with a large, fuzzy socked boom mic we were approached by an uncle or relative of the honoree(s) of the dinner who wanted us to shoot his video greeting. Which is natural. He saw us go from table to table to film folks saying, “Hey Jessie, you did good today reciting the Torah,” or, “Hey Bill you and Julie make a great couple. Many years of happiness.”

Again, I forget the actual celebration because I worked with this videographer about a dozen times at various gatherings. So, the great uncle eventually threw a major league tantrum, after our attentions were focused on other things happening around us and in trying to capture the most important candid moments of the evening. I suppose we may have sidetracked this poor uncle or whomever he was two or three times altogether. It was a thing of beauty, (not our putting him off and apologizing over and over, but rather his reaction) worse than when Napoleon found out he was exiled to Elba or the tantrum Gene Wilder threw in the movie, The Producers. He used every four letter word he could think of. All this, publicly, in front of family. The more he spoke (or yelled) the more embarrassing it became for not only the videographer but in how this gentleman appeared to those around him.

If I were filming that night?

I would have stuck my foot out and tripped that guy.

Problem solved.

All of a sudden I don’t feel like complaining anymore. About anything.

🙂

MJC

Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone!

Post: 1189 Word Count: 812

Friday April 28, 2017

Do yourself a favor. Listen to podcasts. Don’t be scared. Say it with me: podcast. See? It’s not scary at all is it? For eight or nine years now, podcasts have become this, “thing.” Nowadays some folks media consumption contains daily doses of these things. Podcasts have seeped into the public consciousness perhaps as much as terrestrial radio, both AM and FM. What’s the definition of a podcast? A podcast is this fabulous, audio-on-demand, turkey pastrami, Swiss cheese, wonderful fresh rye bread, cole slaw and Russian dressing concoction you download and listen to at your leisure. It’s like DVR for radio. Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo know this and as their alter-egos, Ronna Glickman and Beverly Ginsberg, their podcast is even more delicious than a Reuben sandwich for your ears.

Being a dyed-in-the-wool, Chicago FM talk radio listener for the last thirty-five years admitting that podcasts have taken the place of terrestrial radio pains me to no end. That’s because in the beginning, listening to radio personalities like Steve Dahl and Garry Meier was like nothing on the radio at the time. Comedy became this subversive thing in the the mid to late seventies – and every day we’d wake up to things we had never heard before. Saturday nights we’d watch Saturday Night Live. We’d purchase comedy albums from comedians like George Carlin and Richard Pryor. Counter-culture. Adult. Revolutionary. Shocking. Film was experiencing this shift at the time, as well. There really is nothing like that anymore.

Podcasts, therefore, have taken the place of the places you can find comedy like that nowadays. Whereas certain radio stations and comedy albums in the 1970s and 1980s were where I found my comedy Jones when I was a young man, nowadays, podcasts are where I find this kind of stuff and Ronna and Beverly are my new podcast obsession. They are inhabited by their comedy improv creators, Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo who came together – as the story goes – in 2006 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and created these middle-aged, Jewish women allegedly from Boston. I found Ronna and Beverly quite by accident recently when listening to the Lauren Lapkus, With Special Guest podcast. These two witty and extremely funny characters recently appeared on Lapkus’s podcast as guests. Meanwhile, not only were Ronna and Beverly characters and guests – turns out – they have had their own podcast since 2011. Who knew?

They are like east coast, Jewish versions of Lucy and Ethel, like female versions of Larry David and Jeff Garlin or Richard Lewis. Ronna and Beverly and their podcast host guests from the worlds of film, television and stand-up comedy and others. I have recently downloaded numerous episodes and have listened in earnest to their hijinks and shenanigans. Ronna is a lispy, droll, dazzling socialite. Beverly is her hyperactive, mouth works faster than her brain counterpart. They podcast about their lives and their observations about people and the world in their dishy, snarky, snipey kind of way. They handle their guests – usually – like a superball between two tennis rackets held apart at close range. Ronna sits back and volleys a little slower perhaps than her lifelong friend, Beverly – but each is the perfect foil for the other.

“Okay. Excuse me. Excuse me. Okay.”, is Ronna’s go to reaction to bull in a China shop, Beverly’s stories and opinions. Ronna is perfectly alright with Beverly’s sing song zaniness and quickly forgives Beverly getting ahead of herself in conversation and interviews. Even times when Beverly announces that she’s, “exhausted.” Ronna frequently calls things you and I might deem with mild squeamishness as, “fabulous.” They are like the Ren and Stimpy of the Boston, Jewish social scene and once you begin listening, you can’t turn them off. Do yourself a favor. Listen to these ladies – Chaffin and Denbo – bring these amazing, funny, ridiculous characters to life sometime. And bring along a fabulous Reuben sandwich to keep you company.

Or a lobster roll.

In the words of Beverly, “Irregardless. it doesn’t matter.”

🙂

MJC

Podcast # 1188. Word Count: 690

Saturday April 15, 2017

“Look, there’s a guy I went to school with or grew up with who. . . .”

Fill in the blanks. “. . .wrote an Amazon book, created, executive produced a major network television show, can do the Oct. Dec. Oil in his head, had a wife, children, beautiful home, lake house, blah, blah, blah” Tomorrow marks my first full week with my new used car and I’m not saying I’m having buyer’s remorse but what I am saying is, I may have overstepped my boundaries. Aimed too high. Overshot my goal. Tried standing in shoes a bit too big for me. My experience. My whole life. Walk into the CBOT. The barons of commerce in the agricultural epicenter of the world. Locker partner in high school with what turned out to be the person my class deemed the guy with the biggest brains and most likely to succeed. Classmate of the creator and executive producer of the CBS television series, Criminal Minds. And all I have are my people skills, you know? My experience. How I was raised, expected to behave and how I “speak” to people with a liberal arts degree in communications and minor in English and how I look at the world. Now tomorrow, my first full week driving a car my mother said, “was the kind of car my son should be driving.”

I may have gone too far this time. 2007 Chevy Impala bought from an area dealership. Low mileage. Beautiful, amazing car. Expensive for my meager hourly wage. What’s the future of this thing going to play out to be? My Dad’s Corsica had 72,000 original miles on it when Mom gave it to me in 2005. I junked it in 2015 with two hundred and sixty two thousand miles on it and some change. Sure, I got my use from it. It took me where I needed to go. But the service done to various aspects of that car. Oy! Then, the Camry in July of 2015. I had it a year and a half. 189,000 miles on it and junked it in January with two hundred and thirty seven thousand miles and change on that car. I had to have a job an hour away didn’t I? That’s tough travel time compared to taking the Blue Line in Chicago to downtown for all those years. And also having the Metra at my disposal to get to Elgin from Chicago if either of those cars were being serviced.

Now? I’m on the other side of Rockford with no public transportation, driving twenty minutes extra than I did from Chicago to Elgin. Dear sweet Mother of All That is Sane and Good and Just in this World, what have I done?

The kindergartner would tell me, “You kept your job. You did what you had to do.” And here I am at fifty-five looking out in front of the house at this beautiful car thinking, “Who’s going to open their car door on you? Who’s going to tap, bump, or slam into you one day? How many miles are you going to give me, baby?” What major part will give out first? What am I going to do every month come payment time?” How do I keep this thing? How do I make this work? What calamity or catastrophe will befall this vehicle like befell all my other vehicles when parts started wearing out and they all got old. This car will lose its sheen one day and no matter how shallow and superficial that sounds, there is no light at the end of THAT tunnel. Any major dude or sage philosopher will tell you. Life is change. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing stays the same.

It’s only been a week.

Tomorrow.

So here goes:

Dear 2007 Chevy Impala,

Right this moment I cannot tell you much I love you and am grateful you’re in my life. You will require much love, a lot of TLC and a huge amount of money but somewhere in my post-industrial, technology-immersed life, I will try to ignore all the electric windows and doors, digital dashboard, and anything and everything Lou Bachrodt put in to you and give you the benefit of the doubt and do the very best I can to take care of you. I might not be the best owner in the world but I will try. You’ll screw me one day. But today, one week in, I am happy you’re in my life. I will feed you gas and oil and drive safely and hope for the best. Please take care of me, too. And when I look at a Corvette or a Lexus or even a Jaguar, please try not to be too jealous. I’m a guy. But I’m sitting inside you and NOT a Corvette, Lexus or Jaguar. I’m going to try. You try, too.

All my best,

Your new owner,

Mike

My shrink would have a, “field day” with this blog!

🙂

MJC

Word Count: 849. Post# 1187

Wednesday March 8, 2017

There’s an anticipatory nature to December itself that’s like throwing a hand grenade into an empty room and then walking in. No denying. Like when we’re children. “Santa’s coming.” Boom! That’s all that needs to be said, right? Back when I changed jobs at the CBOT in 1987 – my participation in the wonderful world of commodities – bought with it more responsibility working in a small commercial grain processor’s office – than I had enjoyed up until then. The characters I found myself in the midst of were different than the company I came from as a runner. Characters. Gail and Geno come to mind. Gene is one of those Mad Men types of guys. Old school. Commodity machine. Calculating “wunderkind”. Gail was the girl Friday in our office. Ran things that made the daily business spin beautifully like a top.

One of my early Christmas season’s with my new company, coming up from the trade floor after the close, Gail was putting up a very small Christmas tree in between processing daily trade. The care she took to put tiny little ornaments on this 8 inch Christmas tree was amazing. I placed some of the closing trades, cards and orders into the inbox, took my seat at my desk and prepared for money balancing the day’s trades. “You can do oats, Mike, if we did nothing on the close.”

“That’s a really cute little tree, Gail,” I exclaimed, as she stood decorating at the elbow-high, partition there at our office breezeway that separated our entryway from the desks in our office.

“Thanks. There’s a story associated with this little guy,” she said. She fashioned a yellow star she had cut from a yellow, Post-It note and placed it on top of the tiny little Christmas tree. As she finished decorating, she smiled, regarded the cute little tree with sentimentally and walked over to her desk abutted up against the wall the tree sat on, sat down and returned to key-punching daily trades first, then writing each entry of data on very large, twenty by thirty, ruled, poster board-sized, cardboard paper.

“It’s the same thing year after year. There has not been one Christmas where Gene has not knocked that Christmas tree over.” she exclaimed exasperatedly. “I spend all this time taking it out, putting it someplace where people can see it, decorate it with those stupid little M & M sized ornaments, put a star on top and he knocks it over with his big clunky elbows while he leans on the wall and talks to me.”

“He talks to you every day, Gail,” I said.

“Right. While I’m hurrying to finish input.”

“So I’m not saying it’ll be today or tomorrow or the next day. But you just watch. One day before Christmas, Gene will come in here, drop off closing trades, lay his elbows down on the wall, way too close to the Christmas tree,” she began giggling, “and knock it over with his elbows while he’s telling me a story about Larry Holmes or Dave Seagren or someone. Some times he even notices and helps put it back together.” Gail laughed some more.

“Okay, Gail,” I said snickering and thinking about how funny it would be, while my fingers banged out numbers on an adding machine.

While I was thinking about The Pump Room, or Spiaggia’s or some high-faluting restaurant where we might be having our Christmas party, the rest of the gang showed up: sweaty runners, phone clerks breathing sighs of relief and our desk manager, Dez. About eight to ten people in our tiny, tiny commodity office all assumed their afternoon roles and functions, followed by our whiz bang crush trader, Gene, a few minutes later. Adding machines clicked and buzzed and computer keyboards clickety-clacked.

“What’s so funny,” asked Dez our desk manager.

Gail told the same story all over again and all those present laughed hysterically.

“Do you always find all of the ornaments when they fall all over the place?” asked Dan our phone clerk, using his adding machine.

“Do you know how hard it is to find those suckers in stores?” said Gail. We all laughed some more. “Just watch. It never fails.” As Gail finished her story Gene entered.

“Larry was doing May crush at 54. Dez call Bill Ramsey and let him know for tomorrow,” Gene said as he deposited closing trades into Gail’s inbox and (sure enough) went back around to the wall in front of Gail’s desk and placed his elbows on it, dangerously close to Gail’s tiny Christmas tree.

We all looked up from our work as Gene instantaneously regarded the tree and thought nothing of it. Said nothing. Glanced at it quickly and continued his banter about his day trading crush.

“Gail? I’m going to Lala’s for a haircut,” said Gene.

As Gene headed for the door at the end of the office breezeway, we all breathed a sigh of relief. Gail yelled after him, “I’ll put all of your calls on hold, Gene,” laughing because, again, Gene was old school, the guy who could drink a few Drambuie’s like they were water, meet bigwigs for dinner, discuss the crop year with out of town merchandisers, sell them on why Sep crush is such a good buy right now, pop into a cab, rush over to Union Station and be home by nine. And get a haircut every other week whether he needed it or not. He was a, “shorthair.”

A few of us looked at each other the moment Gene rushed, turned and headed for the door. We knew full well it wouldn’t be today that we got to see the Christmas tree get knocked over. We all then put our heads down and continued adding. In Gene’s rush – combined with the door check mechanism on our office door – an actual breeze or vaccum was created in our office breezeway as the door clicked shut.

“Look!” shouts Gail.

We all looked and the tiny Christmas tree began swivelling and rocking.

Sure enough. The momentum of a perfect storm, a vacuum that Gene created, the door closing, perhaps even his rushed footsteps and in that moment everything stopped. You could hear a pin drop. We all watched the tiny Christmas tree react to these things swaying and swerving until it actually fell over. Ornaments everywhere. The laughter was deafening. The very thing Gail predicted only a few short minutes ago actually happened right before our very eyes. It was insane.

Like a kid on Christmas morning.

One of my fondest memories from working at the CBOT.

A million years ago.

🙂

MJC

Post: 1186. Word Count: 1145.

Saturday March 4, 2017

200px-chicago_board_of_trade_center_continental_illinois_bank_left_federal_reserve_band_rightLife is so different now. Working in the agricultural trading pits and phone kiosks of the CBOT for 24 of my 55 years – now that they’re gone – is not something you can shake easily. It doesn’t matter if you answered phones, wrote or ran orders, talked to brokers, filled paper or anything that resulted in price creation. It’s gone. Being eight years removed from it and having friendship ties and connections via social networks to this, “once upon a time” makes every loss or change or step farther away from LaSalle and Jackson hurt that much more.

Perhaps it’s the time that’s elapsed. The not having been there on that last pit trading day a few years ago or something else entirely. The passage of time and a different work environment took its place and life is different now. One thing’s for sure. Being counted as, “one of the gang” at dinners, pizza nights, live music venues and anything I’ve been invited to and able to attend while I was working there or since I’ve gone is perhaps one of the most humbling feelings of inclusion I have ever known.

You have to understand something about the level of stress there. It’s a whole other level. Desk monkeys, trade checkers, brokers, assistants, pit reporters or any of the support people employed by firms and companies or the exchange itself alike. We all knew we had a purpose and “place” as support to the market makers and professionals who created price. That was – at times – some of the most mentally and emotionally taxing work any one could do. It’s not ditch digging or manure shoveling nor was it air traffic control. One thing it truly was, was most trying on a person’s patience. Yes, for those creating price and for their colleagues they traded with in the pits. But for us, “unsung heroes,” as well.

I guess that’s why every so often, market makers put together these dinners and pizza nights and such. To remind their support people they are respected and appreciated for what it was that they do.

Unsung heroes like the people who distributed morning position to their trader. Unmatched trade reconciliation people. Order runners. Order takers / phone personnel. Hell, even those who stood next to the market makers holding their deck, checking their trades within the alotted time after a trade was made and shuffled and arranged cards, orders as the flow of continuous trade traffic came into the pits. Taxing. Unnerving. Manic. These are the people among whom I count myself. There were others. Crow’s nest market reporters who changed the prices on the wall boards reading prices flashed by hand signal, yelled or screamed up to where they sat high above the octagonal shaped trading areas. Compliancy officers of the exchange. Standing on the edges of the pits in their business suits auditing trade. CFTC officials.

So many roles and functions based on the integrity of “your word is your solemn bond.”

Countless lives effected by the economic bubble of 2008 and later when face to face trading halted. Two huge waves of major change to the way the world traded grain futures contracts and thousands of lives and livlihood changed irrevocably. A ton of great people I had the good fortune to know professionally, some personally. I don’t think any industry, say, for example, the buggy whip makers, suffered as great a loss when the automobile was invented. You hear from time to time, “It’s the people.” And you? Is it the same for you? It truly is. You know who you miss and those you remember most fondly and those who tend to fade away. But the people – the good ones – made it easier somehow to bear the tremendous level of stress and burden or what it was we all had to bear and continue to bear by the separation of a thing that no longer exists.

In all fairness even the bad ones, the bullies, the people who sweat and spit all over you – literally and figuratively – walking all over you to get where THEY were going serve and continue in memory to serve a purpose just as much as the people you anticipated seeing every single day. It taught and continues to teach you, “the difference” between the two. Just as you need to know bitter to know sweet. Dark to know light. Bad to know good. Pain to know bliss. And without to know with. Having heard of another loss recently among those I used to work with for twenty-four years hurts as much being away from all of it as it would if I had still been there.

Yes, life is different now.

But it makes me appreciate the good, the light, the time spent and the rest, sweeter with time.

🙂

MJC

Word Count: 822 Post # 1185