NYC and What Transpired Part Two - August 18th through Sept 2nd, 2017
My first Monday of my NYC trip, August 21st marked the altercation with my ex-boss which led to “Bossman,” the video some of you have seen on our FB Page.
Here’s a quick summation: Man hires me, a guitarist, to teach guitar. Promises a full schedule of students the day of the hiring in spring 2016. The work year is fall to spring going with the school calendar. I have less than half of what he promised come start time. I’m aware it’s my first year so I put my head down and work hard toting unshakable company protocol to the letter. I learn a lot and love my students but am struggling to make ends meet.
Come spring 2017 it’s time to resign the contract for another year. My concerns are brought up very directly. “Well Mike, it has been an off year, you’re an amazing teacher, I can’t guarantee anything but if you don’t like your schedule come August we can renegotiate.” O.K., fine. I resign the contract. Over the summer he decides I will be one of his new voice teachers… I’m not a great singer, I know this, I’m decent and making my way to proficient but teach voice? That’s a realm I have no experience in and he’s advertising me as an experienced voice teacher.
On that morning of August 21st, two weeks and one day till the start of the new work year I still don’t have a schedule in my hands, I don't know what my projected income for the month of September will be, I don't know when I’m able to schedule band rehearsals in the evenings, or take weeknight opportunities, and gigs. I’m supposed to be sitting on my hands waiting for god almighty as far as this moron was concerned to serve in the shadow of this “highly efficient” system that in reality only serves him. He would tell you otherwise, of course.
The man wouldn’t tell me my full Monday through Friday schedule. I asked for a specific Tuesday night free for an opportunity that came up and he huffed and puffed. I couldn’t miss a student the second week into the school year.
So I asked: “What is my schedule?” Crickets. “How many students do I have?” Crickets.
Me: “It’s hard to schedule band rehearsals, gigs, and other opportunities when I don't know what my schedule is.” You know what he said to that? “That’s very snarky, Mike.” Yep. So I quit. “This is my two week notice, I can’t do this anymore.” Obviously he didn't understand.
The man is so blindly locked in his system’s world he can’t see the other worlds in larger orbits encompassing his own. He took it as I’m trying to focus on other areas of my career. No mother fucker I’m trying to pay my bills on more than your empty promises. And what was the last thing he said to me over the phone? “Well that’s a shame, it was looking real good for you this year.” Choke on it, dog. Choke on it.
My ex-boss then proceeded to write me an email saying, “Confirming your resignation in writing Mike. The way you went about this was very unprofessional, you should have made this decision back in the spring when you resigned the contract.” Apparently he forgot about his whole renegotiation statement. To top it off he said, “It would be ill-advised for you to send anyone my way for a reference.”
I burned looking at his words on my Mac laptop. Caffeine jitters expanded senses. My cell phone dinged in the background as a driver laid into his horn outside. It was a beautiful day though, sun was high and clouds sparse.
I envisioned my hand clenched around my ex-boss’s jugular. His pathetic sad eyes bulging and begging for a breath in shock and incomprehension. I desired some witty line about how he was the ultimate snark. The rat-king dangling an empty piñata in front of already poor and struggling musicians. I had drunk his Kool-aid illusion of this so called prestigious company. It was hard to realize in the moment that my anger was not helping me and in the end I was more frustrated with myself for betraying the truth behind the facade.
My fingers cricked and slammed the keys as I wrote him a diatribe breaking a thousand words, detailing every inch of his bullshit I dealt with over the course of my year long employment. Believe me, there’s a heck of a lot more to this story than the beginning and end. I’ll spare you though as this rant has gone on too long. If we ever have a meal or drink together and you want to hear some gory details I have plenty of gems to rival some Forbes-type article, “Top Ten Reasons To Quit Your Job.”
Luckily I had my best friend Raquel to call. She calmed me down as I paced the apartment and said she would take a look at my email and even offered to edit it or condense the message. She knew more than anyone what I had been dealing with over the year. Then I called my dad, an entrepreneur and badass business man. He told me not to send the email and if I did to keep it cordial and one or two sentences. Good people having your back is a blessing. I could only see red in my fugue state but in the end I didn’t respond to his ridiculous final email.
My guitar was sitting in a rocking chair behind me in Colin’s apartment already tuned to open G as I was learning some Dave Van Ronk tune before my final phone conversation with my ex-boss. Side note: Google “Dave Van Ronk.” Greenich Village folk/blues singer who showed Dylan the ropes, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell, etc. when they came to the village. Van Ronk was a general figurehead of the NYC folk scene from the 1960’s till the day he died. Part of my trip to NYC became about following his footsteps and reading his book, Mayor of MacDougal Street (started as a memoir but he died in ’02 - finished by Elijah Wald). The Coen Brothers also made a great movie loosely based on his life, “Inside Llewyn Davis.” More on Van Ronk later.
Anyways, I laid my acoustic guitar case on the futon in the living room, opened it and grabbed the guitar off the rocking chair to put away as I was planning to go jam at McCarren Park to let off some steam. I put the acoustic down but didn’t close the lid. My left hand reached down to the third fret, the guitar still laying in the case and I started banging out a bluesy foot stomping beat with my right hand, sort of batting at the sound hole, not thinking. Then I said aloud, “No.” I brought the guitar out of the case, went back to the table in the corner of the living room and wrote “Bossman.”
I wonder sometimes what would happen to me and my habit of anger if I didn’t have the river of music to drop heavy stones into. Later on that Monday I would play the first open mic I covered in the previous blog post, just to keep you in the chronology of things if you’re following close. I played “Delirious Roses” from my RPM Challenge solo record Funky Blood and “Duke of the Valley” from Fire in the Field’s upcoming War Bonnet. I wasn’t ready to test out “Bossman” live. The frustrations were too fresh and I probably wouldn't have made it through.
So. We didn't leave the sunny Monday morning in Colin’s apartment living room this go around, apologies on that. Next one I’ll be talking about some incredible live music and the people that made it.
Friday, September 22nd, 2017