My friend Vroman wrote this:
How To Not Fail
This is not a guide for success, that you have to figure out on your own. This is a guide on how to avoid abject failure. I have worked for a real estate company for 7 years, and hired and fired a fair number of people. In the course of this task I have encountered many ppl who have completely fucked up their lives. I like to describe my employment policy as extremely laisez faire. I dont care if you have a criminal record, or look like hell, or smoke pot on your lunch break. If you show up and do what I tell you, then you get paid and have an open invitation to come back tomorrow and do it again. If you do not show up or don’t do what I tell you, then you have worn out your welcome. Even given this generous dont ask dont tell policy, many prospective and former employees do not make the cut. This is how to not be them.
Step 1. Self discipline
I am not a moralist. Im not trying to exhort you to ‘do the right thing’. However, if you can’t make yourself get out of bed when you’re hungover or depressed, you are going to get fired and things are only going to get worse. Learning to deny instant gratification is painful, but succumbing to it on a constant basis is the fastest way to completely fail.
Step 2. Do not drink or do hard drugs
Almost everyone Ive had to fire has been a result of ludicrously poor decision making while under the influence, or simple absenteeism from substance abuse aftermath. The lowest rung employees who are in their 50s still earning $8/hr, are trapped there because they drink or smoke crack, etc. There are a lot of vices out there like gambling, tobacco, marijuana, watching TV hours/day, etc that are bad for your health, bad for your long term future, but at least do not radically alter your thinking process to the point that you kill/maim/impoverish/imprison yourself or massively fuck up and lose your job. I am not a moralist. I dont care what you do, all I am doing here is reporting the results of what Ive seen from a long parade of human wreckage. Alcohol is a serious drug, you are best off not drinking at all. Smoke cigarettes all you want, nicotine will not make you crash your car or punch cops.
Step 3. Own a car
Not having access to your own transportation makes you a second class citizen. dont bitch about the lack of public transit. get a car. get to work. do not buy any pointless luxuries like playstations and ipods if you dont already have a reliable vehicle. employees who lose their car and do not quickly replace it, are themselves quickly replaced. as a corolary, don’t lose your license. see step 2. its not good enough to car pool or repeatedly borrow or have a shit-mobile. you need to personally own a fully operational vehicle.
Step 4. Save your money
so your car breaks down unexpectedly and you miss a day of work. that sucks, but everybody has disasters now and then. but you need to get it fixed asap. which means you need to have some money on hand to deal w these kind of mishaps. the difference between ppl who fail and ppl who make progress are the ones who are able to prepare for the unexpected. that means keeping a decent amount of emergency cash. if you’ve got a grand in the bank, that does not mean go have a bad ass weekend. that means you patiently let that money sit there. see step 1 and see step 2. never ask your boss for an advance.
Step 5. dont go to prison
once youve done time, your earning potential gets chopped off at the knees. I have no problem hiring excons, but they tend to keep ruining their future chances on their own. Im not going to ignore the fact that there is money to be made selling drugs, but if you choose that path, then you should go all out and just do that until you get killed. see step 2.
Step 6. Don’t be fat
I am not saying you have to be the paragon of personal hygeine. Sure it would be nice if you showered every day, but pragmatically, a guy who is in relatively good shape who smells like he slept on top of a corpse, can still do the same amount of work as he could if he just came from a spa. but if you are obese, you are physically less eficient in general, even for office work. I dont care what kind of labor laws are on the books, the reality is there is less demand for fat ppl, so they end up making less. so if you are fat currently, my advice is “don’t eat”. 50% of the world gets by on a handful of rice a day. the amount of food it takes to power the human body for 24 hours is surprisingly small. find that minimum and consume only that until you are within 10% of avg. see step 1. Again Im not a moralist. Im not trying to tell you what you “should do”. Im just telling you if you go down this path, you are asking for failure.
Step 7. own a cell phone
pay the bill. answer when your boss calls. not being accesible, especially when you have a field job is a pain for bosses, and they will find someone more convenient to manage.
step 8. speak your boss’s language
while this obviously applies to spanish speaking ppl, its for ebonics also. I have nothing against ebonics, Im sure its perfectly effective for communicating amongst your culture, but I do not understand it, and Im not inclined to learn. if I have to pick between a guy who answers my questions immediately, and a guy who I have to ask to repeat himself 5 times, its not a hard choice who is going to keep their job. you can sort of get away w this if you are really good at your job and very few questions need to be asked, but in that case you should just learn standard-english anyway and move up in the world fast.
step 9. dont have kids
kids suck up most your income, and make you miss work when things go wrong and your co-parent if any, is unable to cover. if you are pregnant, get an abortion. see step 4. if you have impregnated someone, skip town. kids are the most expensive luxury you will ever have. Id recomend absitenence as much as possible. see step 1. also see step 2, as it can lead to violation of step 9.
step 10. learn some specific skill
if I ask somebody what they can do and they say “anything”, that means “nothing”. it means “general labor”, which means $8/hr until you die. join a union, or go to school, or aprentice or whatever it takes to become good at something in a demonstratable way. if you learn to be a plumber or book keeper or hanging drywall, you can still always swing a sledge hammer when times are tough. dont aim for sledge hammer work, make that your back up.
notice at no point did I mention having a house. maintaining income, and limiting spending, is the most important thing. if in your current situation, this means sleeping in your car, so be it. if you have to choose between paying rent, or putting gas in your car, then get evicted and make sure you show up for work.