Dick Maynard Column January 14, 2009

Recession causes the disappearances of 'my guy’

Has anybody seen ‘my guy’ or Mr. Home Flipper lately?

Recession. From a dollars-and-cents sense, life today is a bummer. Home construction is slowing to a crawl, new car sales are in the dumper and most 401(k)s are as bare as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.

Does this mean the economic malaise has no redeeming value? No. There’s a definite upside to our ongoing financial downer.

Starting out with the fact “my guy” is M.I.A. Where did “my guy” go? Who cares? Most likely he’s in the witness protection program. We’re “free at last” from financial bores expounding at length on the financial theories of “my guy.”

True story. Last summer Jan and I teed it up on a Colorado high-country golf course. The starter paired us with a couple from Boca Raton. Both were personal injury attorneys.

With some people, it takes a while before you really dislike them. Not this guy. It was instantaneous. It was a typical resort course round, play was slow. At every tee box, the wait was interminable. This, seeming eternity, was filled by you know who, running off at the mouth, about, “my guy.”

“My guy wants me to take a closer look at derivatives.” he droned.” “He says only schmucks settle for a puny 10 percent return. You need to be more aggressive and get out ahead of the market.”

By round’s end, my only request was to never see the big hitter from Boca again. I was wrong.

Six months later, I’d love to cross his path one more time, if only to ask, a la Dr. Phil, “That derivative thing, how’s that workin’ for ya?”

Another vanishing species never to be missed, thanks to a tanking real estate market, is the “home flipper.”

“Dude,” volunteered the much younger man in the designer sunglasses seated on the adjacent bar stool last summer, “it’s shooting fish in a barrel. You just buy a condo or house — condos work better — with nothing down, wait a couple months, then put it back on the market at a higher price that puts a continual stream of heavy bread in your pocket. It’s as close to a no-brainer as you’ll ever find.”

Today “Mr. Home Flipper” is most likely on the other side of the bar mixing drinks, while telling the world, well at least anyone within hearing range, how he was “screwed over by the man.”

It’s the season of the year when a lot of my time is spent on chair lifts. Last week I rode with a skier, early thirties would be a good guess, who’d been riffed from his “systems analyst gig” (his words not mine) with a Southern California defense contractor. When asked what a “systems analyst” did he replied, “Not much. I went to meetings, wrote up reports of what was discussed, and spent a lot of time on the Internet. Boring job but the money was great.”

He wasn’t surprised to be cut loose. “I didn’t do anything, but I saved some dough and after some ski bumming, it’s back to school and a teaching degree. To be a teacher, now that would be actually doing something.”

And maybe that’s the bright spot to our current downturn. People leaving behind the Gordon Gecko “greed is good” world to find employment where one actually accomplishes something.
Imagine, a job that contributes to the common good. What an interesting concept. Let’s hope it catches on.


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