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Chasing The American Dream

July 25, 2005


I’m sure you’ve been curious. I guess I’ve waited long enough. Here’s how it all began…

Success is measured not so much by the position reached in life as by the obstacles overcome.
Sign at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood, Florida airport, February 2004.

May 30, 1996. It was 9:30 p.m. The images are as clear today as they were nine years ago. I heard the ambulance sirens finally approaching. For the past 30 minutes, I had been barely able to breathe. Barely conscious, I remember hearing my wife, who was seven months pregnant at that time, calling 911. I remember the paramedics rushing in and asking me a bunch of questions. I could barely breathe and couldn’t gather enough air to answer them. So my wife answered them for me. I remember being strapped onto a gurney and wheeled out of my house and into the ambulance. I remember seeing the flashing red lights reflecting off the neighbors’ houses and imagined what they must be thinking. For the first time, thoughts of dying crossed my mind as we sped away. The ride seemed to take an hour although, in reality, it was no more than 15 minutes. All I wanted to do was to be able to breathe. One additional thought crossed my delirious mind as we sped toward the hospital. If I ever make it through this ordeal, I was never going to work for Travel Card or Corporate America again...

I guess if you define success by the above definition, then I must be more successful than the Bill Gates’ and the Donald Trumps of the world. Life deals you some pretty tough hands for whatever reason. And the tough hands always seem to come in bunches which makes it even more difficult to cope. And so, like most everyone else, I wonder, Why me?

Everyone plays the hand they're dealt,
And learns to walk through life themselves.
Not everything in life is handed on a plate…

Lyrics by Staind, from the song, How About You?

I’ve far too often thought about that question, Why me? Why did I have to go through hell and back a million times? There has to be a good reason for all this. Remember this line from a famous movie?

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it!”

Sound familiar? There he was, standing there sopping wet wearing only a towel with his hair pointing straight up and looking directly at us. You got it. It was indeed Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller. Ferris was right. He convinced me that I, a rank amateur, had to write this autobiographical account of my ‘success’ as I chased The American Dream.

So I began writing. I wrote for several reasons. Without giving too much of the story away, I initially thought that the actions, places, and events that happened to me in the workplace could be easily related to, laughed at, and appreciated by most anyone reading this book. Second, I wanted to document the actions and behaviors of some of my perfectly awful bosses throughout these years. I wanted all their behaviors and actions known to everyone so that maybe they would think twice about their actions next time and try to improve themselves as people, leaders, and managers. Third, and maybe most importantly, writing about all this stuff was how I coped with each unbelievable event. It’s a tale of scandal, fraud, politics, love, romance, heartbreak, misery, and hope all wrapped up into one.

I came up with the title in the early stages of the book. The funny thing was, I didn’t truly figure out what it meant until the end of the book. I initially thought to myself, Man what does it take to find a great job doing something you truly love, with great people, decent pay, decent hours, and a decent organization? So few people have this in this world. Oh sure you have your actors, athletes, singers, rock ‘n roll bands that truly have the world by the balls. I came across an article in Links Magazine in which they were doing a Q&A with Tiger Woods. Tiger was asked if he ever got tired of being himself and being in the limelight all the time. Tiger’s response? He said, “Actually, I don’t because I enjoy what I do. I love getting up and going to work every day. Not many people can say that.” Perfectly stated, Tiger. When I read that I thought, THAT has to be the American Dream. How do you find such a job? Thus, a title was born. And I have spent the last nine years Chasing the American Dream, or at least that’s what I thought I was doing…


  • very nice. pulls you in without giving away too much. i didn't care for so many quotes, though (just a personal thing - no sweat (i was going to say 'bigee,' but i wasn't sure how to spell 'bigie')). there is one error. 'So I began writing. I wrote for several reasons. Without giving too much of the story away, I initially I thought...' two many 'i's. have you found a publisher yet?

    By Blogger ropedncr, at 6:27 PM, July 25, 2005  

  • It's nice to see regular posts again! Hope this means the latest job-from-hell is winding down.

    I like the quotes and want answers: panic attack? heart attack? recurrence?

    Edit, edit, edit. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. You'll fix the typos and grammar and keep honing your words. Isn't that what every successful writer does? So glad I'm just a hack.

    And speaking of writers: SK's link isn't working on the side. (Loved how the girl who trashed SK has now gone back and edited her blog post. Just being ironic? Then why delete the part where she says she's skinnier?)

    As always, sending you my best.

    By Anonymous ~K, at 7:23 PM, July 25, 2005  

  • Success is not being able to distinguish your hobbies from your profession.
    That would be amazing. Tiger's a lucky guy for that fact alone.

    By Blogger Gatsby, at 9:00 PM, July 25, 2005  

  • Tease. You hooked me and then stopped. Looking forward to the day I go to the book store and buy it in hard cover.

    Your description of writing is very true. One moment there you are enjoying the world and it's humble existence. The next you can't wait to psycho doodle it on to your laptop and release the characters.

    By Blogger Sass, at 10:57 PM, July 25, 2005  

  • i am reading it when it comes out for sure! i especially like the idea of kind of getting back at your bosses by outting them as horrible managers...i had one of those...i wish i decked her before i left. haha.
    anyway, good luck with it!!

    By Blogger Amanda, at 2:43 PM, July 26, 2005  

  • Wow- still after me, aren't you? I changed my post because I was afraid Stephanie might read it and, knowing how sensitive she is about her weight, take it seriously. I am skinnier, but it's only because I have serious stomach problems, also referenced in that post. But whatever.
    Plantation, sorry to use your blog as a forum for this, but "K" doesn't have the balls to post on mine, and his email doesn't work.

    By Blogger Noisette, at 7:56 PM, July 29, 2005  

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