NOT WORTH THE PAPER IT’S WRITTEN ON – Marilyn Armstrong

It was Samuel Goldwyn who supposedly said that “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” He had a point. Almost everything is done online these days from legal papers to mortgages.

Job offers, book deals, major purchases (like cars) are all done online, without people meeting face-to-face. I’m still not willing to make major commitments without a personal meeting, but I’m old-school. Maybe you should be, too.

Computers, or not, get it in writing. Without the handwritten signature of a live human with a name, address, and phone numbers, you ain’t got nothing.

When I was working my first jobs out of college, I would take anything with some connection — no matter how vague — to professional writing or editing.
It was the 1960s. Those days, before home computers and the Internet, getting a job was pretty simple, at least at entry levels.

You saw a listing in the paper for something you figured you could do. You phoned them (if they gave a number to call) or wrote a letter. On paper. Put it in an envelope with a stamp and dropped in a mailbox. You included a résumé or brought one with you for the interview.

You went to the meeting in person. A day or two later, that person (or his/her secretary) called back to say “Yes, you’re hired,” or “No, thank you.” An entry-level job didn’t require 30 hours of interviews or meeting everyone from the company president to the IT crew and the overnight backup guy.

And there really was a job, unlike now where they interview people for jobs that don’t exist just to find out if there’s a workforce to fill it — should it ever come up. You were qualified to do the job or not. The person who interviewed you actually had the authority to hire you. Which was why he or she was conducting interviews.

Unlike today where you can be certain the first person you talk to is someone from HR trying to ascertain whether or not you are a serial killer or corporate espionage agent.

Contracts? Those were for really important jobs. Getting in the door was relatively easy. Getting an office with a window might never happen. If you were a woman, knowing how to type was your entry card.

So the company made me an offer. I took it. I was optimistic back then. Any job might lead to the coveted and elusive “something better.” I was already working, so I gave my current employer two-weeks notice. On the appointed day, I showed up for work.

The guy who had offered me the job was gone. Quit? Fired? No one seemed to know or care. Worse, no one had heard of me, or my so-called job. I had nothing in writing. Without proof, I had a hard time even getting unemployment. I had learned the most important professional lesson of my life:


GET IT IN WRITING.


Whatever it is, if it’s not on a piece of paper, dated, and signed, it’s a verbal contract. Sometimes, that’s fine, but it’s not something you can show to a judge or for that matter, the unemployment department yo-yos. Which, in the immortal words of Samuel Goldwyn, means it is not worth the paper it’s written on.

CROSSROADS AND CONTRACTS – Marilyn Armstrong

It was a cold night. Not just wintry cold, but a deep, damp, clammy cold that climbed into your joints and made everything hurt. A light fog covered the ground yet it shed no light.

If you squinted, you could see two hulking bodies approaching the junction, each coming down a different path.  No need for the complexities of physics. It was obvious they would meet in the middle of the intersection. There were barely any shadows. Surely the stars were glittering in the heavens, but none were visible.

“You called me and I came,” said the taller of the two.

“Have you brought the papers?” asked the bloated one.

“Indeed I have,” responded Old Scratch. “Please look them over and make sure everything is in order.”

“No need,” said the other. “I got your email. My lawyer says it’s exactly what I asked for.”

Path in the woods

The tall one with the twisted features of a demon smiled. “Then I guess we can move forward. Remember, please that only those items written in the contract are yours. Other events not in the contract can occur. For such unrelated events, I bear no responsibility, either causally or to protect you.

“I thought I should also mention that we have a bonus for you. For each individual you bring to the crossroad to sign a contract, your power will increase.”

The bloated one snickered. “I already have a list,” he said. “It’s quite long and I’m sure you’ll appreciate it. Most are ready to sign. By the way, do you happen to have a pen?”

The demon opened his hand. In his hand was a softly glowing pen that was intensely black yet appeared to have an inner light. Instead of a standard tip, it had a thick marking nib. “I assume this meets with your approval?”

“Nice pen,” said the other. “Can I keep it? It has a certain … something.”

“Absolutely,” said Scratch “I made it just for you.”

The other took the pen and placed his signature on the dotted line.

Demon-face smiled, then laughed. “We are done,” he said and. With a brief flash of red, he vanished. Only the dark night remained. The glowing pen lay on the asphalt.

The deed was done. The other picked up the pen and put it carefully in his jacket pocket. He began a long, slow walk back to his limousine as a light rain began to fall. The world would belong to him.

SHOW ME THE MONEY! – Garry Armstrong

I’m just back from running an errand. I had the car radio on the local sports radio station, the flagship station for the Boston Red Sox radio network. The regular season starts next week and I’m excited as you would expect of a guy who’s grown up with baseball as a passion.

From my youth in the ’40s and ’50s, following the fortunes of Brooklyn’s Boys of Summer to the early ’60s, tracking the daily misfortunes of Casey’s Amazin’ Mets to the present, hyperventilating over the sons of Teddy Ballgame playing at Fenway Park, the so-called cathedral of baseball.

This is the time of year when we scour pre-season predictions of all the major league teams. We look at stats and projections for all the players.

Politics and other breaking news is set aside to focus on how OUR team will fare. During ancient times, preceding 24/7 online coverage, we studied the magazines that featured baseball experts, looking through their crystal balls, telling us who would be good and who would be lousy. I spent more time on these magazines than on my homework.

Hell, baseball was more important than history, science, geography, math, and science combined.

Cuba Gooding: “Show me the money!”

Ironically, decades later, I’d use my weak math skills to understand crucial baseball stuff, namely contracts. Contracts garner today’s headlines because of the money shelled out to today’s biggest baseball stars.

As I write, Mike Trout is at the top of the world, Ma, agreeing to a multi-year 400-million-dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels. I wonder if Gene Autry, the original Angels owner, is scratching his head at the big Melody Ranch In The Sky.

Trout’s record-shattering contract tops last week’s record-shattering deal by Bryce Harper with the Philadelphia Phillies. Harper’s “It’s not about the money — I love baseball” proclamation covers the multi-year 300 million dollar bonanza for the former Washington Nats star.

Sports media yakkers and writers have been foaming at their collective mouths over Red Sox star and last year’s A.L MVP, Mookie Betts who stands to be new man atop the world when he hits Free Agency in 2 years. Mookie is staying mum, saying “he just wants to play baseball.” Right.

So, I’m listening to talk radio, expecting a little yak about the dough, then moving onto assessing the upcoming season.

Red Sox Nation wonders about last year’s astounding 119 wins –including regular and postseason momentum, including the World Series championship. That was a once-in-a-generation season. Hard to top. I and many other fans are already worried.

We don’t have a decent bullpen, let alone a postseason-caliber roster of relievers. We bid adieu to ace closer Craig Kimbrel who wanted BIG money as one of baseball’s top closers.  We also bid “vaya con dios” to Joe Kelly, the master curve ball artist who presumably could’ve replaced Kimbrel. Kelly went west for big money with the Dodgers.

I’m listening to the radio gas baggers, waiting for some chat about the Red Sox plans for the bullpen, not to mention how the rest of the team looks. They’ve looked pretty bad in Spring Training even though we know Grapefruit League games don’t matter. They are exercises intended to get the team ready for the regular season. Still, you’d like to see the pitchers evolve from rusty to sharp. You’d like them to at least look ready for the real games coming up in just a few weeks, wouldn’t you?

Bosox pitchers have looked like hamburger helpers in the Grapefruit League. The rest of the team looks very iffy, save a few hitters who’ve been slugging like they’re hitting grapefruit instead of horsehide.

The pennant at Fenway

The Talkers also slide over to politics and whether the Sox should pay the traditional championship visit to the White House this year. A number of players have made it clear Donzo is not their kind of guy and have sent regrets to the Oval Office.

I timed half an hour of money talk — and Donzo’s affability — by the yakkers, and callers who seemed to be off their meds.

This isn’t “Field of Dreams” stuff. It’s an offshoot of Cuba Gooding’s famous line in “Jerry McGuire.” We laughed long and loud when Gooding’s baseball player screamed at Tom Cruise’s agent, “Show me the money!”

We’re not laughing now.

THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT

The subject has been on our minds lately, probably because it’s almost baseball season and the slugger the Sox need has refused to sign a contract.

“It’s not about the money,” he assured everyone. The current offer is at $125 million for 6 years, but he wants to play outfield rather than designated hitter — which is what we need. The Sox have three brilliant outfielders who can also hit, so that’s not happening. Martinez isn’t getting more money and he is definitely not getting third base.

Since no one else has made him a better offer, there’s a possibility this great player is going to wind up sitting out the season or going to Japan because he won’t sign a contract. There aren’t many teams with this kind of money to offer. The Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox are pretty much the big three for big money and this guy has said no to all of them.

No contract? No baseball.

Meanwhile, we are also watching reruns of “Blue Bloods.” Danny the cop with PTSD and his lovely wife Linda are going through a variety of marital issues. He says “You have to quit doing that.”

And she says “Or yeah? Or what? Eh? Whatcha gonna do about it, huh?”

And I say: “Until the new contract season comes up.” This is a rerun, so I can see the future. I know she’s going to die at the beginning of next season – belatedly — because she can’t renegotiate her contract.

That made me think about how life would be if our marriages were based on contracts and negotiations. With agents and lawyers. Lists of  requirements and assurances from the medical team that we’re okay to play five more seasons. All the things we are required to do or no renewal for upcoming seasons.

Sorry buddy. Empty out your locker and good luck in your next endeavor.

This might result in all of us getting better terms for our relationships or maybe not. More likely, a lot of lawyers and agents get richer. We get poorer, and a bunch of married people discover they have not been renewed for the upcoming season. I can see us negotiating for a five-year contract, with someone saying “Of course, this contract is based on a doctor’s assurance that you are in good health.”

Oops.

Poor people would have to work month-to-month because they can’t afford an agent. We’d be lucky to even make the team. On a more positive note, there would be no need for divorce. It would be simple, matter-of-fact business arrangement.

Sorry. Your contract has not been renewed.

A VERBAL CONTRACT ISN’T WORTH THE PAPER IT’S WRITTEN ON

It was Samuel Goldwyn who once said that “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” He had a point. Almost everything is done online these days from legal papers to mortgages. Job offers, book deals, major purchases (like cars) are all done online, without people meeting face-to-face. I’m still not willing to make major commitments without a personal meeting, but I’m old-school. Maybe you should be, too.

Computers, or not, get it in writing. Without the handwritten signature of a live human with a name, address, and phone numbers, you ain’t got nothing.

When I was working my first jobs out of college, I would take anything with some connection — no matter how vague — to professional writing or editing.
It was the 1960s. Those days, before home computers and the Internet, getting a job was pretty simple, at least at entry levels.

You saw a listing in the paper for something you figured you could do. You phoned them (if they gave a number to call) or wrote a letter. On paper. Put it in an envelope with a stamp and dropped in a mailbox. You included a résumé or brought one with you for the interview.

Bonnie guarding my computer

You went to the meeting in person. A day or two later, that person (or his/her secretary) called back to say “Yes, you’re hired,” or “No, thank you.” An entry-level job didn’t require 30 hours of interviewing, or meeting everyone from the company president to the IT crew and the overnight backup guy.

There was a job. You were qualified to do it — or not. The person who interviewed you had authority to hire you — which was why he or she was conducting interviews. Unlike today where you can be sure the first person you talk to is someone from HR trying to ascertain whether or not you are a serial killer or corporate espionage agent.

Contracts? Those were for really important jobs. Getting in the door was relatively easy. Getting an office with a window might never happen. And if you were a woman, you better know how to type.

The company made me an offer. I took it. I was optimistic back then. Any job might lead to the coveted and elusive “something better.” I was already working, so I gave my current employer two weeks notice.

On the appointed day, I showed up for work.

The guy who had offered me the job was gone. Quit? Fired? No one seemed to know … or no one was talking. Worse, no one had heard of me, or my so-called job.

I had nothing in writing. Without proof, I had a hard time even getting unemployment. I had learned the most important professional lesson of my life:


GET IT IN WRITING.


Whatever it is. If it’s not on a piece of paper, dated, and signed, it’s a verbal contract. Which, in the immortal words of Samuel Goldwyn, is not worth the paper it’s written on.

THE PAPER IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE CONTRACTOR

A paper is just a paper unless everyone abides by it. 

Yesterday, I had arranged for Shawn Perry (Clear Vision Construction) to fix our front door. He wasn’t doing the work himself, but sent two guys to do it. The quality of the work is possibly the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t believe (or at least, I don’t want to believe) that he has actually seen this atrocity personally, but he says “his guys sent him pictures and it looks OK to him.”

So. Here is a set of photographs. This is less than 24 hours after the work was deemed “finished” and complete. I called him one more time to tell him this was his last opportunity to come over, look at it, and do the right thing. He would not take my call. I left a message which said: “I’ve given you every chance to do right by me, but you have refused to even take a look at the job. Be it on your own head from this point on.”

The name: Clear Vision Construction, Owner: Shawn Perry. Maybe find a different guy.

Maybe Shawn is capable — but this is work done by his company and it is not merely unprofessional. It isn’t even amateur. It is horrendous. His workmen, his responsibility. It’s a pity he refused to make an attempt come back and do it properly. A shame. IF you insist on hiring this company, be VERY sure you have every detail of the job written clearly and accurately. His “words” are empty. I’ve had work done in my home many times over the years. I have NEVER seen anything this atrocious.

You can write the paper and sign the paper. But in the end, the other party has to live up to his part of the deal. I’m sure there’s a clever way to say this, but I’m not into “clever me” mode at the moment. Maybe tomorrow.

Me, A-Rod and Raw Onion

The Major League Baseball logo.

I have good days and bad. This wasn’t an especially good one. Not after my doctor called to mention in addition to the bad mitral valve, I have significant cardiomyopathy. Keep calm, stay hydrated and blog on. So here I am. Blogging on.

The good news? I’m unlikely to die of cancer. My heart will probably give out first.

The bad news? I think my career in professional baseball is over.

The A-Rod show has come at a perfect time for me, if not for MLB. It’s such high entertainment it has successfully distracted me from what would otherwise be a full descent into a puddle of self-pity.

Me and A-Fraud. Except that I never got the $275,000,000 contract or took all those performance enhancing drugs, now given this cool nickname of PEDs. You’d think if I’m going to have all the health issues, I could at least have had fun and gotten paid big bucks too. Like Alex baby.

A-Rod was on television — all over television — explaining how this has been the worst year of his life. Poor guy. He’s been humiliated by cheating and lying while getting paid staggering sums of money. He’s had health issues, but I’ll swap him any day of the week. Talk about clueless. He genuinely thinks we should feel sorry for him, not because of what he did, but because — take a deep breath — HE GOT CAUGHT! How embarrassing. What could be worse than having to publicly admit to wrong-doing when you’ve actually done wrong? But not to worry. Mr. Rodriguez is not admitting to anything by golly. He’s being picked on by Major League Baseball and the Yankees. He’s a victim, not a bad guy! Even if you don’t follow sports, this is one of those stories that has got to leave you with your jaw hanging.

Watching A-Rod be sincere on TV last night took my breath away. He used the same degree of sincerity as he did when he denied having taken steroids or even being tempted to take them. I loved that line. That is the definition of chutzpah and he’s not even Jewish. He said we should not judge him on his past. Let’s just move forward and trust him because he is a better man, a changed man, an honorable guy who loves baseball. And his paycheck. He’s had a hard time. (Bite lower lip, look victimized.)

That’s like a recidivist explaining to a jury that all his crimes are in the past. He promises not to hold up any more banks. Can’t we all forgive, forget and give him the fresh start he deserves?

Yeah, right. I have a bridge to sell.

While I’m working on recovering my sense of humor, I’m waiting for A-Rod’s next press conference. Garry and I were both surprised he didn’t produce a single tear. My husband feels that for $275,000,000 he should be able to cry on cue. I wondered how come he didn’t palm a piece of raw onion. A tear would have sealed the deal.

Personally, I have not found that crying helps much, but I don’t get press conferences. Just doctor appointments.