I’m Not Dead

I’m not dead.

The thought may have crossed your mind, unless you socialize with me on Facebook or are a part of one of my group texts or you’ve come to the store in the last few months or you live in my cul-de-sac. If any of those previous conditions were met, you know I’m not dead.

Some days I feel like it. Not mentally or emotionally or spiritually (whatever that means to you*), but physically after a long day of work. Pfft, you say. “Tom, you sell appliances; a long day of work is, like, 20 minutes of – say – ditch-digging, max. You don’t know long days of work.”


It’s not that kind of physically tired, but it is a kind of physically tired unlike the kind of physically tired I’ve experienced in a generation. A generation ago I was in landscaping. I dug ditches. Moved dirt. Cut lawns. Been there. But this kind of physically exhausting is different because (a) I’m older, and (b) I’m not used to it. We’ve been busy at the store like we’ve never been busy before. Dylan probably thinks it’s the norm.

Our store peaked at about $177,000/month back in 2006, just before the Great Recession. We had three full-time salesmen then. When the economy collapsed I remember drawing a line in the sand with the boss when we got to $125,000: “If we get to $110, we’re done.”

The next month we got to $110.

“If we get to $100, we’re done.”

The next month we got to $100.

“If we drop below $90, we’re done.”

The next month we dropped below $90.

“Let’s just figure out how to stay open,” we finally said, “there are no other jobs!”

We hit an all-time low of $67,000 just a couple of months later, but we stayed open. The boss infused cash. I worked all the store jobs. The lone delivery guy worked all the field jobs. We averaged something around $75,000 the rest of the year. It was bleak. I had a lot of time to do nothing. If we socialize on Facebook you might remember that.

Once, in 2006, we did over $200,000 in a single month. In fact, we did $234,000, mostly due to a weekend, low-margin parking lot sale we had. It was the epitome of not fun.

A couple of times since the economy began to grow again (which, for us, was October 2011-on) we hit the $200,000 mark but only barely. I got better and better at being a one-man sales show – with backup help from the owner and a part-time guy – so we mostly added support staff. We didn’t need a second full-time sales guy, really, until this year. This year has been bananas.

We’ve broken the $200,000 sales mark several times this year, including all of the last three. We had never previously done over the $200 mark in any two consecutive months. The most we had ever sold was August of 2018 ($234,000), the month after the Carr Fire started, when everyone lost their fridges and almost 1100 local residents lost their homes. No one wants to benefit from the misfortune of others (except, perhaps, Trump), but folks needed appliances and we had ‘em. I worked many long, exhausting hours that month.

This month we are breaking a ton of records.

I’m not dead. I’m tired, I’m sore and I suppose I am just about as mentally exhausted as I am physically exhausted. I am most certainly pressed for time, almost every second of every day. Sacrifices get made. I won’t sacrifice my time with my boys. I won’t sacrifice my time with my wife. I can’t sacrifice home projects or necessary personal care. I can’t sacrifice the three hours each week I dedicate to the Rams.

So, I haven’t any time to write. Don’t consider this a declaration of hiatus or a final curtain by any means. Just accept the erratic current life of Tom. I’m here. I’m just thin. Way, way thin.

I woke up early with one intention: go say hi. If you still get the notifications or see me in your reader – and I honestly can’t blame ya if you don’t – well, then, “Hi!” 🙋‍♂️

Sorry to ramble on. Sorry for all the math. Sorry I didn’t say more bad things about Trump. I really regret that. Next time.

Or now.

An election is coming. A very important one. Joe Biden is no great shakes but he’s several orders of magnitude better than Don. Vote for Joe. Donald Trump will leave office. He may not want to, I’ve said that from the start. He’ll never want to. But when he loses, he will. That’s the way it works.

There’ll be a few dark days as his blindest supporters join him in protest to a fair election. But those folks – the ones that are truly a combination of both foolish and dangerous – are quite few. Be empathetic and patient. There will be no civil war. There will be partisanship and vitriolic divisiveness and we’ll all have to work on that once the great divider is gone. But we’re going to be alright. Better days are ahead, for each of us individually, for the country collectively, and for the world itself. That long arc of history still points positive.

And we will survive the virus. Not everyone will, we know. Covid-19 is already the third-leading cause of death in the United States. A vast majority of that is from bad national leadership. We already knew we have bad national leadership and we know now that something like ¾ of the deaths in the United States from coronavirus could have been prevented with better leadership. We don’t have that so here we are. But, in the long run, we will survive this virus, as a nation and a world. We’ve got a long way to go – as a matter of fact, there is a sudden remarkable upsurge in my very county this week – but we’ll make it. Be smart. Avoid large gatherings. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Think of others.

Think of others.

Okay, I’m gonna get out of here and on to other coffee-laced things before I get back to work again. Go Appliances Direct. Go Rams. Go Humanity. Go You.

Go You.

I’ll leave some dogs below. Y’all like that. 😊

*To me, “spiritually” means directionally. I decided that some time ago. Our own personal health relies so much on the condition of our physical, mental, and emotional selves, but also on our “spiritual” or directional selves. For some of you that might mean a deity. For others, a different kind of calling. When I am physically healthy, emotionally stable, mentally attuned, and (perhaps most importantly) satisfied with my direction in life, I am at my best. What is your north star? Are you following it?

29 thoughts on “I’m Not Dead

  1. Why the uptick, now, do you think? (Sales, not Covid, we can all guess the Covid resurgence.)

    FYI: the primary killer in this country (world) reared its ugly head for me recently. Coronary heart disease is very hard to detect. You can have normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, eat well, exercise, be trim, and STILL have clogged arteries. I encourage every male > 50 to become aware of this disease.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, good tip! I gotta get my ticker checked. They say that in half of all cases the first symptom of a heart attack is death. 🤷‍♂️

      As for the busyness, I think a lot of it has to do with the big box competition being completely out of shit. We never have a lot of anything these days, either, but what we have sells quick!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They say you start to feel older at 55, so you still have plenty of time. Then again, my dad’s 83 and though he sleeps more, like most old people, you’ll never hear him say he’s old. He’s in constant denial, which makes him so young, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom Being Tom and puppies too–it’s already a great Sunday! I feel a lot of what you feel, but I put it down to “covid fatigue”–it’s just been too long since anything was normal, and it’s going to be a while longer, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On top of that everyone keeps telling me “it’s the smoke!” Well, true. We’ve got a raging virus, a long very hot summer (back in the 100s this week), and fires in the vicinity are causing a thick layer of bad air all over us. Couple (or triple or quadruple or what not) those factors with the almost unbelievable level of busyness at the business and, well, I’m tired.

      Can I have a beer?


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry you are so overworked, I knew the feeling in the past when I was working. Glad you still save time for your family and personal interests. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and say “hi” and reassure us everything is going to be alright, because I am so afraid it won’t be. Hope you are right.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I feel your presidential pain brother Tom. But, there is always the future to look forward to, Trump free let’s hope. I’m glad your busy with work and other things. It means your still alive and kicking as the band Simple Minds would say. Cheer to you and yours brother Tom 🥂🍻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And, for the record, hard work paid off. We broke our single-month sales record from November 2019 AND our single-month profit record from August 2018. Sales and margins, baby, sales and margins!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The thought that you might be dead, or even going through tough times, has crossed my mind multiple times. The internet is a funny thing. I have several friends in California, including you–I consider us friends even if we’ve never met or even socialized on Facebook, but we’re simpatico in a lot of ways that make me think we’d get along if I lived on your cul-de-sac–whom I’ve never met, whose voices I’ve never heard, some, even, whose faces I’ve never seen. And I worry about all of you because California seems to be suffering disproportionately even given its size.
    Still California will survive and, I’m glad to see, so are you, and you’re not just surviving and enjoying those things that make survival worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Friends, of course! Christopher, you are more than a friend, you are an inspiration to me. Couldn’t appreciate you more!

      (unless you lived in the cul-de-sac)

      It’s been a bit – far too long – and I’m going to take steps to reevaluate some things, some time constraints, and make moments to get back to the basic things that make Tom Tom. In fact, I was just telling Tom, “Tom, there needs to be some changes in Tom’s life; or at least Tom’s time management. The world needs Tom more than ever!”

      I don’t know if Tom listened. Tom can be a stubborn ass.

      (don’t tell him I said that)

      And speaking of crazy … wait’ll you read what I have to say today!

      (that may have been a hyperbolic plug 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

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