Resume Fodder & Resume Reality

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It has been my experience over the years that one’s resume is often no more than a list of jobs that one has endured year to date, mine included. Resumes do a decent job of painting a picture without any real details. The proof is in the pudding, it rears it’s ugly head when a person is put to task, when one is asked to prove their knowledge of the process, and to be able to work alone, unattended by a trainer or supervisor. We all know that after all the streamlined bullet points that most of our resume is just sugar coated bullshit. I said most people. Now you’re asking, but where are you going with all of this? Fair enough of a question, I actually have someplace I’m taking y’all. I’m taking y’all to work, my work specifically, where one of my tasks is to train new employees in our department how we do things, our culture, and how to do everything we do in the safest manner possible.

This act of training is very natural for me, it has always been easy for me to teach, from people who don’t have a clue to those who come with a little or allot of experience. So, I have worked at the same place now for almost exactly two years, I have been sent to schools as well as trained by other mechanics. As a mechanic we have a daunting task, we are responsible for the maintenance and repairs on a very broad spectrum, from building (facilities) maintenance to equipment maintenance, and everything little thing in between. I’m forbidden from mentioning the company I work for, but to give your imagination a run for its money, here are a few facts.

It all started in 1962 as a small grocery store in small town by a man with an unfilled vision, and is today the biggest retail chain in the world. From hitting the $1 billion mark for the first time in 1979, it generated more than 482 billion dollars in revenue in 2016. This is more than the total revenue of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Facebook combined! Just so you know, these are the top five most valuable brands in the world. Quite remarkable! In fact, this store brand has more revenue than the total GDP of countries like Poland, Belgium, Thailand, UAE, South Africa, Singapore, Portugal, Qatar, New Zealand, Croatia, Iceland, and Mauritius. Speaking of countries, if this store was a country, it would be the 25th largest economy in the world. A country with only the stores employees alone would also be more populated than 88 countries in the world. Want more?

Wait, did someone mention employees? Well, this store has many, many of them. With more employees than McDonald’s (1.9 million), it is the biggest private employer in the world. In fact, only two organizations have more employees than this store, the US Army and the Chinese Army. You know you are big when you are competing neck and neck with the biggest armies in the world. Which is why it should be no surprise to see that it employs more people than HP, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Motors, Starbucks, Ford, Walt Disney, Amazon, Costco, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook AND American Airlines COMBINED. Phew! All of these companies: ~2,199,000 employees. This store: ~2,300,000 employees.

You might be wondering how is all of this even possible. Well, the answer lies in the fact that Americans spend more than 36 million dollars every single hour at this store. That’s 864 million dollars in just one day. Additionally, more than 200 million customers shop every single week in its various stores. In other words, more people shop at this store every week than the entire population of Germany, United Kingdom, and France combined. Of course, this means that it makes some serious profits. How much, you might ask? No less than $21,000 every single minute. This store can literally buy 30 iPhone 6S every minute, burn them and still be in profit. Most of y’all have probably figured it out by now who I work for, but I’m still not saying. However, I don’t actually work in a store, I work in the logistics part, not the retail part. I work in one of thousands of the distribution warehouses that receive and distribute groceries to only a handful, 70 or so stores, in the logistical web of stores seen world wide. Many of the details I listed above were in our latest issue of our monthly magazine. I can’t actually give them full on credit without giving away the name of the company.

Ok, now back to my role. Fortunately for me, I learned my department and it’s role very fast. Fortunately for me, I came into this mechanic’s position bringing years of mechanical experience and knowledge, the results of not having a resume full of fluff, fodder, or bullshit. And if the truth must be told, being a jack of most trades has served me well here because there are many days I have to dip into my resources of experiences to solve problems. But wait, there’s more. It was all a trap, almost like being given a lengthy rope to see if I could hang myself. Actually, becoming the trainer did come with extra money hourly and a little prestige since I’m not just another drone mechanic, I actually have a purpose and people depend on me to do my job to a higher standard. Plus, I really do like and appreciate all the daily challenges. Plus, training keeps my own skills sharp and many times I learn a little more. I never know who I will train or what their personal skillset actually contains. I’m not part of the interview process, but my words speak loudly when I have to do the person’s training review close to the end of a person’s initial 90 day period. Fortunately for me, my words, in a company this size, have merit and do determine if a person will continue in the new career he or she has chosen. A fortunate aspect of who I am and how my personality works is that I can spot bullshit a mile away and read a person in a way that interpretation is not necessarily needed. Luckily for me, the human brain has done most of the work for me because one is either mechanically inclined or one is not mechanically inclined. There is no in between and there is no fudging any of that. Remember, I NEVER see the resume that was used nor was I part of the interview process which got a person hired, I get the person cold. I suppose one could say it’s like a blind date, if it goes well for him or her, we get to move forward.

I will discuss, briefly, the latest candidate, and then let y’all get back to your lives. Sam is 32, the mother of 3 girls, recently divorced, muscle car enthusiast, and out in the workforce for the very first time ever in her life. She came in the shop this past weekend looking like an 80’s Guess Jeans poster girl and my first impression was that I’m screwed, not getting screwed by her, but the girly girly smells real nice types don’t usually like to get grease under their nails. My initial impressions were squashed real fast and I must admit I was more than a little shocked. Task one with Sam was to identify why a fully automatic shrink wrap machine was inoperable. I noticed when we arrived at the machine that it had stopped abruptly in a strange position, generally meaning something broke or seized. By the time I mentioned we need to get out the 16 foot ladder (weighing in at 135 lbs, in my opinion weighing more than her by 15 to 20 lbs) she already had it set up and was climbing to the top. She proceeded to request I hand her a flashlight, a 9/16″ open end wrench, and the 6″ crescent wrench. I’m, okay Sam. After a few minutes of silence except for a little grunting, she explained she had identified the problem, the shaft from the main drive motor which drives the rotation gearbox has either has broken into three pieces. I was also informed that we need to go back to the shop for additional tools and the parts to complete the repair. Due diligence states I have to do my own assessment and inspection, which by the look on her face, was insulting. Not my intention, just protocol.

Needless to say, I merely had to show her access procedures, where to find stuff, how to use our hand held computer, and that it was time for break. By the end of our three day weekend (42 hours) I found myself to not only be amazed but also very respectful to the fact that no matter how the package is wrapped that there is always a surprise inside. We did have time to talk, she explained she’s from a family with 8 boys and she was the baby. She had gotten pregnant in high school and married shortly after graduation to the father. She ended her dream of going to college to become a better mechanic because she liked being a wife and mother. Her ex and her were into restoring and building hot rods, an expensive hobby which is one reason they divorced, the other reason was in an argument about money (which she was not earning) that resulted in him punching her in the mouth in front of their 3 children. In her eyes they were now done.

Anyway, after getting to know Sam I realized she was going to make our team better, and even though there is 11 more weeks of training, I don’t see any problems. Wait, unless of course she doesn’t like the cold, because then she’s screwed because we spend allot of time in the -30 degree freezers. But we will find out that next weekend.

You’re Bitching Up The Wrong Tree

Okay, visitors here know in a past not so distant life ago I was a bartender in a full nude strip bar. Many of y’all still ask me why. Why? The money was great and the scenery wasn’t that bad either. As well, many (not all) have judged my morals or judgment in career options, mostly I was told how I glorified the world of stripping when strippers are really disgusting slut whore beasts and are the lowest form of human on the planet, right after the douchebags who go to strip bars and pay to see naked women dance in their face. Yes, I simplified it for y’all, forgive me, but I never understood how or why people judge strippers. Strippers strip for whatever reason, I’m not real sure how many of them want to shake what their momma gave them in front of strangers for money. But, I know for a fact that there are reasons women strip, every single one of them has a reason. Some of those reasons have been explored here in the past, and I always get told that I’m very biased because I “lived” in their world too long while working as a bartender. How can that even be true or make sense.

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I thought that since I received this great example from an angered reader who wanted to reach out with her own information that this would be the perfect opportunity to take another moment to discuss choices of employment, perhaps motivations, and of course to glitzy lure of stacks of cash. In a moment, y’all will read the email I got yesterday explaining to me that I needed to be more clear to people so others who do strip or want a career in stripping have information so they don’t get fucked, literally. As far as my past posts, they are my own personal experiences OR experiences that were shared with me by real life strippers while I was a bartender. And, look people, again knowing from personal experience, some of the choices for employment are harder than others. So, read the email below, catch back up with me afterwords. If you ask me, the writer/sender was/is a stripper and got burnt somehow, I would assume she sued or attempt to sue her place of employment because one of her patrons tipped her with information instead of dollar bills. Just my humble opinion.

Begin email———————————–

1. Strippers, exotic dancers, showgirls, lap dancers, peep show dancers, & erotic entertainers are EMPLOYEES of the club they work for.

Stripping is a J-O-B. Strippers will never be independent contractors. It doesn’t matter if the boss calls a stripper an independent contractor or if it’s a term she applies to herself.  The reality is that the way strip clubs operate, the strippers working in can only be employees. It’s because management must exercise a certain amount of control over working conditions or else there would be chaos. Some might argue that management creates more disorder with their policies than order. Management need to figure out which dancers are going to work on any given shift; how many shifts there are in a day; how many hours each shift runs; many decide what dancers may wear at work; how many dances she perform on stage, and so on. The reason why strip clubs misclassify strippers as “independent contractors” is to dodge their employer obligations. The irony is that clubs say you’re an independent contractor but actually treat you like an employee.

2. Strip club employers must pay all their workers minimum wage, at a bare minimum.

Strip club employers must also pay into social security, worker’s compensation, employer taxes, & a slew of others good things that workers in any other industry are guaranteed as employees.  Personally, I think that strippers should get paid far more than minimum wages.  After all, not every chick is willing to take her clothes off in front of random strangers & gyrate on their laps to arouse them!  The management like the money strippers make for their business, but they don’t want to pay these women for their labor.  THIS IS ILLEGAL.

3. State labor laws state that it is illegal for an employer (here, the strip club owner) to take any portion of his/her employee’s (here, the stripper) tips.

To add insult to injury, management charge strippers for the privilege to work!You know:  those stage fees, quotas, commissions, piece rate system, locker fees, booking fees, etc, etc…. It’s also illegal for employers to require strippers to tip other employees (DJ, House Mom, Manager, Bartender, etc).  Management minimally pay non-stripper staff and expect strippers to underwrite the remainder of their wages.  Why are these fees-to-work illegal?  Because strippers earn their money through tips that customers provide for them.  Strippers use their tips to pay management these illegal mandatory fees. THIS IS ILLEGAL. Lets review by answering the following questions for yourself.

Were you misclassified as an independent contractor while being employed as a stripper?

Did management fail to pay you minimum wages while you were a stripper?

Did you have to pay management to work while you were employed as a stripper?

If you said “yes” to one or more of these questions, your labor rights were violated. Take action to assert your labor rights!

End of email——————————————-

**** On a very special note. The Sting Of The Scorpion Blog has not, will not, and cannot provide any legal advice. Visitors of this blog should consult with their own lawyer for legal advice. The information provided was for informational purposes ONLY. I claim no legal knowledge in regards to topics discussed here. Now, you’ve been warned and informed motherfuckers! ****

In reality I don’t care what people do with their lives, how they spend their money, or who they choose to see naked. I can, however, say that every single person who walks through the door of a strip club (employee or patron) has their own reason for being inside those walls. I mentioned before, my goal was to make money, as much as I could as fast as I could. Now, having a 8-5 job during the day and then working another 8+ hours afterwards as a “part time” sucked, I won’t lie, it made for long days/nights. As well, it was a 42 minute drive for me personally which racks miles up on the vehicle as well as adds just a few more hours each day. Yes, once at work the scenery, in general, was pleasant. The work environment was a bit weird because my involvement with the business of the club were pretty nil. I did, however, meet some very nice people along the way while I worked there, I’ll leave that part right there. Want to know more just read around this blog a little and you’ll see what I mean.

Getting back to how I or what I write about glorifies the occupation of stripping, because, lets face it together, I get accused of never writing about anything but strippers using their nakedness to separate men of all ages from their money in the shortest time possible. What y’all have got from me is the brutal honesty, not the fucking fairytale la la land some people seem to live in. I guess my point is simple, working as a stripper is what it is, it’s a choice someone makes, and often enough people get judged because in someone else’s opinion it was the wrong choice to make. Trust me, I’m 46 years old and still get grief from my mother because I bartended in more than one strip club over the years. “How can you do that to your wife and treat her without respect by working at a strip bar?” is my favorite question to date. My wife only had one dislike about me working there and that was the simple fact that I was getting in after 1 in the morning day after day and I was tired. I was tired and didn’t want to do anything except hang out around the house, I was a big fan of not going anywhere or not doing anything. In the end, it was my wife’s opinion that made me want to quit in the first place. She asked me to quit one time, and I made it happen that day. On the flip side, all joking aside here, she was the one that said I needed to get a part time job to fill some time, make a little money, and get out more. In fact, it was a friend of a friend of a friend of one of her co-workers that my wife gave me the number to call for the job. She was informed, the moment I went to the interview, that it was at a strip club. Her answer was it was decision either way, but told me I knew I could make some serious cash if I took it. Yes, she does not about my past life, not that it was talked about much.

Luckily, at the place I worked, everyone was an employee, we all had health coverage if we chose, we could participate in the 401k, they were workers comp compliant, the whole 9 yards. However, indeed, a portion of my paycheck was dependent on bar sales, door sales, and stripper tips. Yes, now I’m the bad guy. No, it wasn’t my rule, and nobody fought it, it was just the way it was I guess. But, they did not pay to dance, they did not have fees except for one, which was if you were scheduled to work and you were a no show/no call, you were given three days off without pay as a warning to be more courteous to your coworkers. It mentions minimum wage above, um no, how the average stripper was making from $18.00 to $23.00 an hour, plus tips, plus dances, plus whatever the hell else they were doing on the side, if anything. Again, I’m not defending the industry itself, merely where I worked.

Oddly enough, during the mere course of writing this post I have received 4 more emails “scolding” me for being a sinner, supporter of sinning, and indulging in the slavery which we collectively call the “sex trades” since stripping somehow falls into that category. Maybe I truly am blind, somewhat oblivious to the blythe which is that of the life of a stripper. But, wait….. for….. it….., I don’t care, I really don’t, I don’t care what people do which their lives. Well, that’s not altogether true, I do care that I contribute a large amount of my paycheck to pay for others to sit at home on the crack pipe, on the xBox, or on the porch, instead of them getting out and getting a fucking job. We’ll talk about that another time, I read a study recently that the average person on a combination of government service programs average about $19.20 an hour. Like I said, lets get back to that another day. My mere connection with the stripping industry is purely coincidental, meaning we would work in the same building, all of us dependent on the very steady stream of people entering the neon lit establishment we called a strip bar.

But, I understand, the easy thing to do is to judge those doing things we don’t agree with. We should just be happy people are out working instead of sucking on the welfare titty all day. Until we as human beings stop looking at the opposite sex with lust in our eyes there will always be a place where we can see the opposite sex naked. Have y’all been on the internet later, have y’all seen what y’all have been searching for, and y’all call me the pervert?  Again, another post for what people’s perversions are. Your choice, fucking hate me, if that gets you though the day, great, just fucking hate me. Meanwhile, I will give you something to think about, my final thought here today. All strippers have a story, a life, a family, and although you detest their industry or them as people, just remember it takes guts to strip in front of strangers, it takes courage to get out there to earn a living no matter what your craft may be. Before we get all biblical on me, remember, I don’t by into it, so in reality it’s a major waste of both of our times. But, as usual, I will get the emails, the comments, and so forth, and I will post here on this blog the ignorance that is spewed. There is no justice in the world, we all know it, sometimes we decide that instead of running away from life, we jump on that old hag, dig the spurs in deep, and ride her until that bitch throws us or we tame the beast. Your choice.

13 Rules Of Engagement

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This is a pretty complete list of 13 things that a veteran must do or more importantly, not do, while you attempt to win your compensation benefits. These aren’t in any particular order, each is as important as the next. I know these are all very important. I know the results of not catching mistakes and of making simple errors.

Following these simple rules won’t win your claim for you but it will help ensure you don’t lose it.

(1) Don’t call the toll free number. Don’t email the VA Regional Office. Don’t use the electronic system to file your claim. Do not ever, under any circumstances communicate with the VARO except by certified mail, return receipt requested. If you break this rule, you are sure to get the wrong information. When you call or email you aren’t contacting your VA Regional Office, you’re in touch with a call center. The call center has access to a computer system that is rumored to be powered by kerosene and data is stored on IBM punch cards. The employees are under orders that you are allowed 3 minutes and not any more. They will tell you anything you want to hear to get you off that telephone. If you insist, try calling 3 days in a row. Ask the same question each time. It’s likely you’ll hear 3 completely different answers, all the wrong answers.

(2) Know who is representing you. You hand over the future of one of the most important legal moves you’ll ever make where the stakes are counted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and you aren’t sure who the person works for? On the other hand, you’ll walk into any office that looks official, sign over a power of attorney, complete financial paperwork that exposes your weaknesses to the world and walk away not knowing what to expect or when to expect it. Spend much time thinking about your claim and who that representative works for, you’ll be a lot happier down the road.

(3) Be patient. Take 2 hours of quiet time early in the process and read from all the stuff that is available all over the internet. The VA site itself is a wealth of information and will answer a lot of your questions completely. Your application for benefits will follow a process. If you’ve done your part that paper you submitted is going to slowly wind its way to the first step in the process, then the second step in the process, then the third step and so on right through over 100 steps that must be accomplished before it is adjudicated. Whether you think all that is necessary or not doesn’t matter. It’s the process that counts and you need to accept that very early in the game. Once you’ve submitted your paperwork and you’re confident that you have given VA all the evidence that there is, you’re done. There is nothing else to do but wait. Calling the VA (see #1) to ask where your folder is truly a waste of your time. Don’t write any more letters to the VA. Don’t call your VSO to ask if she has heard anything about your claim. She hasn’t.
Do anything at all but think about your claim. Your claim will be adjudicated when it gets adjudicated and not a minute before. Live with that.

(4) Don’t ever display any anger to a VA employee. Yeah, OK…we’re all pissed off. Every last veteran I know can feel their blood boiling at the mention of how the VA treats those it’s supposed to serve. We were trained to be angry. Extreme pain was a sign that weakness was leaving my body. My most basic and most important job was to kill people and destroy their stuff. We were not emissaries of peace, we were warriors. That was then and this is now. If you show your angry side to a VA employee by yelling, expressing your displeasure at waiting, slamming your fist down on a desk, cursing, storming out of a room and slamming the door or making a direct or veiled threat…you have created trouble for yourself and all those who have to follow in your footsteps. Most, not all, but most VA employees at the clinics, hospitals and regional offices want to help you. They’re usually every bit as frustrated as you are at the bureaucracy they work for. They have the same problems of paying bills, raising teenagers, flat tires and headaches that you have. Many of them are veterans. Many others weren’t born yet when you were injured. The bureaucracy wasn’t intentionally made tougher for you by that 23 year old student intern sitting across from you. A lot of these people are afraid of you. I was born with a scowl. At my happiest, my brow is furrowed and my eyes narrow down to slits and I sigh a lot. I’ve been told often that I intimidate people so I work hard to overcome that. Before you interact with a VA employee in person, on the phone or by letter, take a deep breath and let that anger go. The amount of courtesy, respect and smiles you give is directly correlated to what you’ll receive. Otherwise, you may find that your record is flagged to warn others about your erratic, threatening behavior and if you think you have problems with getting things done now, you haven’t seen nothing yet. Worst case scenario, the VA police are serious. Most VA police officers are real cops, not ‘security guards’. The handcuffs they use are pretty much guaranteed to show you what they think of your attitude. Think before you open your mouth. You’ll be glad you did. The rest of us will appreciate it too.

(5) A well written letter is your best friend. When you moved and changed your mailing address, it appears you told everyone but the VA Regional Office that handles your folder. Neither the toll free number nor the IRIS email system is at your regional office. Your VSO can’t be relied on to run errands for you. If you had written a letter, mailed it to the correct address and used certified mail with return receipt requested and kept the receipt along with your copy of that letter, it is very likely the address change would have happened just as it should have. If it didn’t, you have good evidence that you did your part correctly and timely. Without that little green postcard, you got nothing. This action applies to every action you take with the VA. Any time you want VA to accomplish anything for you, you must put it in writing and you must be precise in telling them exactly what it is you want. When you put your request in writing, you’ve just created a piece of evidence that can be held in the hands and reviewed by another person months or years down the road. It’s real, it’s solid and if it disappears from your folder, you have a back-up copy and that little green post card to prove it was delivered. A telephone call is a faint memory the moment the connection is broken. An email may roll up and off the screen, out of sight and out of mind. Emails are often purged whether by accident or intent. Your letter and your copy of that letter are the most powerful tool you have. A single letter that is brief and tells the reader just exactly what you want is more potent than a hundred phone calls. There is just no reason for you to communicate with VA by any other method than a letter.

(6) Don’t call your Congressperson or a Senator. Your elected representatives in Washington makes laws, they don’t enforce them. Each of them maintains a number of very busy offices staffed by a dozen or more people. In that mix are “Military & Veterans Liaisons” or an individual with a similar title and responsibility. When you write or call to complain about the VA and your claim, your call is routed to that person. He or she will ask you to complete documents that allow them to view your folder, privacy issues must be addressed as you have medical records in there. Then they send a “Congressional Inquiry” to your VARO. The VARO maintains a team of people to respond to such inquiries within 45 days. Your folder is located, pulled out of line and examined for any particular glitches or errors. Then it may be sent to the Representative’s liaison for a review. If the folder and your application are merely going through the usual routine of numbingly slow progress, that’s what you’ll hear. If there is missing evidence and VA can’t find records or something is lost, they’ll assure the Representative that they’re doing all they can and that message will be passed on to you. Your Congressperson or Senator won’t be aware that you’ve done any of this with their office. They each have hundreds of these requests every year. Often enough, the impatience is rooted in ignorance. The vet doesn’t understand the process and nobody told him that his claim may take as long as 18 months. Some requests and complaints are filed with these offices because the veteran is in dire financial straits and is depending on a compensation benefit to save the day. The wolves are at the door, the car is being repossessed, the credit cards are maxed out and the vet needs the money right now. This is probably the worst reason to call as an inquiry may cause even more delays. Your folder could have been next in line to be distributed to the desk of a Ratings Veterans Service Representative (RSVR) and you caused it to be pulled out of its place in the line.

(7) Don’t ask advice from everyone you meet. Once you begin the journey to that compensation benefits award, you should soon develop a plan and stick to it. An integral part of the plan is where you’ll get guidance from. Have you decided to use a Veterans Service Officer who you trust?  Are you going to DIY? Are you in an appeal and you’ve signed some agreements with a lawyer? Whatever path you choose, stick to it. There is no one perfect answer to any of the thousands of questions that may come up during the course of your claim. Different people will have different experiences and those experiences will shape the way they will advise you to handle your claim. This happens in appeals too. The veteran speaks with a lawyer who agrees to take him as a client. Papers are signed and the lawyer begins the process by notifying VA of the new POA and requesting a copy of the folder. Six months pass and the veteran hasn’t heard anything so he calls the lawyer to discover the VARO only delivered the copied folder 2 weeks ago. The veteran once again starts looking for advice elsewhere and the result is always the same, the vet is lost, confused and unsure of what to do next. Changing representation in the middle of the process may be one of the worst actions a veteran can take unless there is a very good cause. That the claim is taking too long or the lawyer isn’t calling you every week to tell you nothing has happened isn’t good cause. You should only change your POA in a circumstance where you’ve discovered and can prove incompetence, your representative is on an extended leave or the representative dies. Even then, you will want to give a lot of thought to upsetting the flow of progress, as slow as it may be. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe that it’s better to allow the claim to proceed to a denial than to try to make a course correction during the process. When you make the decision to file a claim, give a lot of thought to how you’re going to proceed and choose your representative carefully. If you’ve done your homework up front, when you hit those bumps and delays that come with working with VA, you’ll remain confident that it’s just the routine and you’ll be happier for it.

(8) Prepare for the worst. Approach your claim as if it is already determined that you’ll lose and have a lengthy appeal. There are no reliable, precise statistics that allow us to predict which claims will be approved or the ones that are doomed to failure. We know that even when you submit a perfect claim with perfect evidence there’s a good chance that you will be tied up for a year or more and then receive a denial letter. When you get that denial, you’ll be stunned as you read along. In the required explanation from VA you’ll see that it’s almost as if not one single person actually read your evidence and/or they just ignored it all. The language they use might make you think that they’re speaking of someone else’s claim, not yours. You may read incomplete sentences, pages that don’t seem to connect from one to the next or the date on your letter may be days, weeks and even months previous to the day you get the documents. The truth is that it’s entirely possible that your complete folder was never examined for all the evidence. It’s possible that evidence you delivered wasn’t ever matched to your file. It’s not rare for papers from one file to be accidently included in another file and your denial may be based on a single page of a report from another veteran’s medical record. If you are already in need of the financial help that you deserve when you take that first step towards compensation, you must begin to develop your budget as if you aren’t ever going to see any help from the VA. I have met many vets who are suddenly unemployed or underemployed due to their service connected disability when they decide to file for a benefit. They hear from friends of the retroactive pay and that monthly deposit and the free medical care and they file and sit back and wait for it. It’s very unlikely that you’re going to find any sympathy for the knee injuries that you’ve asked for and been denied 3 years earlier. Even if your claim is valid and you’re unable to find work, unless you have a situation that is life threatening, you probably won’t see any help at all from VA. No matter what your situation, after you’ve completed your filing of the paperwork for your claim, you must then address your long term finances. You should involve your family in the discussion so that everyone understands that you’re facing a long road ahead. If you start the process knowing how you’ll pay bills each month until the point that you are awarded your deserved compensation, the time you wait will be less of a stress on you as well as your family.

(9) Read the fine print. Each time the VA writes to you you’ll find a page that applies to your claim and a number of pages of boilerplate instructions regarding your rights to appeal and other matters. Too many of us get to the part that reads, “We propose to reduce your benefits…”, or “Your claim for compensation is denied…”, or any one of a number of messages that we didn’t want to receive and we never read past that. The blood boils up in the brain, eyes cloud over and we get tunnel vision and we never see the instructions that can save us time and trouble. The fine print included with a VA letter is as good as it gets. Often enough it will detail why a particular action is taking place and once you understand that, you can correct the problem in short order. In a denial letter you may see that they didn’t consider an important piece of evidence that would have supported your claim and you have an instant reason to appeal. The most important detail you’ll find is that of timing. Your VA is obsessed with timing, yours, not their own. That fine print will tell you that if you wish to halt the apportionment of the money your ex is trying to withhold from your compensation, you must take certain actions within 30 days or 60 days. If you ‘timely’ reply you can request a personal hearing that can halt proceedings for months while VA makes room in the schedule for you. This can give you valuable time to gather evidence or get advice on how to fight a proposed negative action by VA. Reading those pages of legalese will provide the veteran with almost never-ending routes of appeals, hearings and opportunities to prevent decisions from going against us or to reverse decisions that aren’t favorable. Using the law to enforce your rights is smart. Getting smart beats getting angry every time.

(10) Get involved. You served your country. You wore the uniform, took the oath and you agreed that if ordered to do so, you would lay your life on the line for the principles we believe in. That isn’t enough. You aren’t done yet. When you were active duty, you could vote and that was about it. Now you’re a veteran and you have the knowledge and experience required to understand how our military forces need the support of the civilian leadership that control them. If you haven’t ever written to your elected representatives before, don’t embarrass yourself by thinking that they should jump up to help you when you have an issue with the VA. You Congressional representatives want to hear from you on an ongoing basis. Your Senators each have an easy, simple section on their web site for you to write them a note to let them know how you feel. Once each month, it may take all of 5 minutes of your busy schedule to write to say that you support some piece of legislation for veterans. If you do that on a regular basis, if you aren’t a ranter, and if you are contributing your thoughts to them even when you don’t need their help, they’ll pay more attention when veteran’s issues come before them. Today, the younger veterans need your wisdom, your guidance and the benefit of your experience. When you returned to the world in 1969, there were few people who were willing to offer you a hand up. If you haven’t lifted a finger to help our newest veterans but you have time to bitch and whine and cry about your own benefits, you need to reassess the situation you’re in. Giving your time to assisting these warriors will give you something to do while VA muddles around with your claim. You won’t get the sort of reward from the VA that you’ll discover helping a young veteran rebuild a life.

(11) Learn how to use your computer.  If you’re reading this, the odds are you’re reading it on a computer. It’s often said that filing an application for disability compensation isn’t a spectator sport. It’s time for you to get in the game. How can a person who manages to log on and use email not know about that phenomenon known as the Google search engine? The Internet is as amazing an invention as the wheel or sliced bread. To have Internet access is something most of us couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams as we entered our military service. Today’s soldier can’t recall a world without the Internet. If we take it in it’s simplest terms, the Internet is nothing more than a library that houses information. We all access the same Internet. It doesn’t matter if your portal is AOL or Bellsouth or Comcast, those are just doors that open to allow you access. Once you step through the door your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has for you, you are surfing along the same “Information Superhighway” as everyone else. Once you’ve arrived on the Internet, the “library” is full of billions and billions of pages of information. That information is piped up into the Internet from other computers, called servers, from colleges and governments and private citizens and even businesses that want to sell things to you. If you want to see what they have to offer, you have to be able to arrive at their Internet address and then view the information they provide. To get to a specific place or find specific information on the Internet requires that you know the exact address of the place you’re looking for. If you don’t know where you’re going, how on earth can you find your way among those billions of addresses? Thankfully, that was made easier for you years ago by the development of the “Search Engine”. The first Internet search engine came about 1993 and has quickly evolved into today’s Google. While there are plenty of competitors around, many consider that the Google engine is the best available. How do you use it? Simple. If the Google search bar isn’t already a fixture on the landscape of the web page you’re looking at, go to the address bar of your browser and type in http://www.google.com and you’re ready to search. Bingo, you’re on a page that shows you the results of the search by the engine. It may tell you that it found hundreds of thousands of “hits” of pages that are relevant to your query. The engine, being as smart as it is, has listed them in the order it thinks you’ll want to see them. You’ll see the main page of the DVA site (http://www.va.gov) and also the main page of the VBA site (http://www.vba.va.gov) Congratulations! You’ve just learned how to use a search engine. You entered a “search term” and then directed the engine to find a likely page of information for you. Once at the DVA web site you’ll see links to almost everything the DVA has available. A “link” is a word, phrase or symbol that you may click on that will take you to another place on the Internet or within the pages of the site you’re on. To find the facts about dependents benefits is easy once you’re on the VA site. Look around, you’ll see links to benefits, from there links to dependent’s benefits and so on. I recommend the DVA web site as a first stop for almost everything you need to know about the VA. The site is massive and it can be complex but with a little time, you’ll soon discover all you ever wanted to know about VA.

(12) Retrieve and then organize your own documents and evidence. The VA has a duty to assist you. The obligation to help you includes a reasonable effort to track down records and to notify you of your rights. The word you want to pay attention to is “reasonable”. If 10 years have passed since you were treated at the infamous Our Lady of Pain and Suffering Medical Center, located in beautiful Dog’s Breath, Georgia and you want those records, you better work on getting them yourself. That VSR may fire off a letter in the direction of that hospital and include a copy of your release but there is never any guarantee they’re going to respond. He may even try again. After that, it’s your problem, not his. Many hospitals today have medical records outsourced to a vendor in another city and state. If the VA writes to the hospital asking for your records they may get a message to contact the vendor. In turn, that vendor may require a stiff fee to research and copy records, and yes, they can do that. The vendor may require a photocopy of your driver’s license or other identification for security. Their rules may require all of that and then they must send the records back to the hospital where the hospital releases them to you or the VA. Upon encountering those kinds of barriers, the VSR at your VARO will note his attempts and move on, only without your important records. If you were treated by a handful of different physicians over the years, practices may have changed hands, doctors may have moved on. If you were treated by Dr. Quackenstein 12 years ago and his notes will prove your disability, you’ve got problems if he gave up medicine and is now a back-up singer in an unheard of band. Your file may be in storage, it could be that the entire practice moved to another building or that the practice, including your chart, was sold to another group of doctors. The VSR may send a letter and might even make a phone call on your behalf. If that isn’t productive, he’ll move on. In the circumstances above, had you taken the initiative yourself, you may have been able to track down your record. Yes, it may have taken you 30 phone calls and days of frustration but if you are persistent and you find the right person, the one with the keys to the storage facility, you may get that single piece of paper that wins your case.

(13) You’re not in the military anymore.You no longer have to accept answers you get as if it was handed down from authority and, or through the chain of command. Question everything. If the answer or decision is not favorable to you, disagree with it. Our government’s agencies do not always get things right, do not have your best interests in mind, and will not always tell you everything you need to know. If you think your claim has merit, and your belief is based on facts, law, and evidence directly on point to your claim, then appeal and persevere. Do not shrug your shoulders, give up, and think the VA must know better and, or must be right. They make wrong/bad decisions all the time; hence, the incredible backlog that exists in the VBA claims process today.

Read this disclaimer: The above information is provided to you to describe general processes and procedures that occur during the application for disability compensation and pension and other benefits within the Department of Veterans Affairs System. You are not being provided with any legal advice. Any information provided here is not intended as and should not be construed as legal advice. The DVA laws and regulations are subject to change. I cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any of the information provided, or any results or outcome as a result of the use of this information.

The Tides Of Misfortune Have Turned

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When I was laid off back in February of this year it really stressed me out. I had probably one if the biggest “oh fuck” moments I think I ever had. I was in shock really, immediately my reaction was that I couldn’t go home with this information, I didn’t want to face my wife with my new employment status, it seemed to be an impossible feat with me imagining a very bad outcome. Panic set in, my palms began to sweat, I felt as if someone just pulled the plug on my only life support. My wife and I only talked about those fears last night after dinner, more than eight months later. According to my wife, she could see that I was “down”, not myself anymore, and she thought it was time to have a heart to heart conversation, just the two of us. For the most part, what I have talked about here on this blog has been a close mirror to the amount I have spoke with her. Why? I think I feared being judged by the one person it would hurt the most from, my wife. But, we talked, allot, for many hours, about many things, to include still looking for a job, our savings, paying the bills, money, and the fact that I needed to stretch $111.64 for groceries for the next two weeks. Yea, you read that right. Looking at the checking account is depressing for me, we bleed money, yet we are just paying bills, putting gas in the vehicles, and buying groceries.

Its odd, but looking for a job exhausts my energy each day, collectively I spend 10 hours a day in my efforts, usually for nothing to show for it. At this point I was at my end already, in fact last week I started, in person and online, putting in applications at local fast food places, restaurants, and even at Walmart. Desperation has set in, now I didn’t care to be picky, just pay me whatever to do whatever. Desperation sucks a big dick. In the darkness I was experiencing I received a phone call which the person inquired a reasonable amount of information from me. It led to a very informal impromptu meeting. It was an interview without being an interview. He gave me a great deal to think about, this was something very unexpected by me, and I spent the better part of this weekend dwelling on if that was it or would I get a call. It was a nerve racking weekend. I had to come here, repeatedly, to post to blow off steam, to relax my brain, and to get my mind on other less stressful things. On Sunday I made it unintentionally hard on my dad as we did a drive to Van, dropped a trailer full of stuff off and then turned right around to come back. I drove half assed oblivious to everything, including cars, the shitty weather, and of course the conversation he tried to strike up here and there. I was there physically but my mind was looking for a job, wondering about money, and who was paying for the gas. I’m worried, I can’t help it.

This morning I woke up after a shitty nights sleep and said fuck it, I’m taking the day off. I don’t want to screw with jobs or people today, I’m tired and I really don’t care. But, and this is an enormous but, while out running errands with my daughter, I got a call while I waited for her to get done with her college counseling interview. Her first semester “how are things going” type of interview. The phone call was an invitation to come have a second talk with the person I spoke with last week. This time it was to be a more serious talk. So, when we were done running errands, I took my daughter home, and headed for the meeting. The short story is I was very happy with the meeting, and later this week I will tell y’all why. I like to let the eggs actually hatch before counting them. Tonight, my wife will talk again, after we eat what I hope will be one of our last ramen noodle dinners. Ever been torn between excitement and fear? Its a sucky emotion as well. Its like being dead, watching your life go on but you are not participating, which I haven’t really, or at least I don’t think so. I will miss being Mr Mom I think, but having a great job will better suit me, and it will definitely help financially.

Anxiety is a bitch as well, but I have a feeling the next couple of days will fly by. I read a post on a fellow bloggers blog this morning about failure, how we treat failure, and how we are judged first by our failures before anything else. It made me remember that without failure we cannot know our success and that more often than not we don’t see the positives of having to start over sometimes. This morning I woke up feeling lifeless and only a spectator, this afternoon I see hope in my own recovery. At least now I can see beyond my own toe tag.

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Still Living The Life Of A Stripper

In the paragraphs below y’all will be reading information which I finally had time to transcribe from a recorded talk I had with a very good friend of mine and former employer. She discusses the life of a stripper, how to make money, what to do with that money, personal safety, and so much more. I encourage y’all to set some time aside to read the information she has provided as it is considerably lengthy. It also provides insight to her personal accomplishments and how she has become a successful businesswoman. There are very different professions for all of the people who want to work, hopefully this will show y’all a different view of the world a stripper lives in. This could very easily be done as three separate posts but I’m an all you can eat buffet kind of guy who likes to get my fill all in one sitting. So, with that being said, here we go.

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To begin with let me say that I started stripping at the age seventeen with a fake identification and a fast talking mouth. With that resting comfortably in the back of your head I also opened my own full nude strip club at the age of 24 in Houston and have since opened another location in Dallas. There are a great deal of misconceptions out there about strippers and that is something you will have to deal with if you enter the profession. I will say this, I truly enjoy what I do and I have never felt exploited because I’m a stripper. In fact I have always felt it was far more personally empowering than any other profession. But stripping is not for everyone. It requires a certain temperament. Don’t go and become a stripper because you feel you “have” to. If you hate what you do it will show and you will make very little money as a stripper. The minute you start dancing the clock is ticking. There are a limited number of years in which to make as much money as you can. Most dancers retire around 27. If you’re starting when you’re 18 that gives you nine years in which to make as much money as you can and then get out. Chances are you will never again be able to make as much per day as you do while stripping. Make the most of of the time.

There are two kinds of strippers, subsistence and capital strippers. A subsistence stripper just works enough to get by. Maybe a few days a week, saves little and is always in a financial crisis. I see these girls panicking to get enough dances to pay rent the next day but by the next week they are back to partying, doing drugs, buying expensive clothes and generally pissing away every dime they earn. Their plans for the future are vague at best and even though they claim to realize they can’t dance forever they seldom save and invest their money or invest in an education. These girls get out of the business no better then they started and spend the rest of their lives getting their ass pinched in menial, low paying jobs. A capital stripper dances as an investment. In my opinion this is the only reason to strip. Stripping is just too hard a way to earn a living to do it for just enough to “get by”. You can get by on a McDonalds salary. If you are going to have guys staring at your naked ass all evening you should at least be securing a decent future for yourself, not just tomorrow’s groceries and rent. There are many excuses for not saving your money but in my experience few of them are valid. Single mother, health problems whatever, you can still afford to save. If you work hard you can make a great deal of money stripping.

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When you see that money in your hand it just doesn’t seem real, and when you keep seeing it night after night it seems like the supply will be endless. It’s really not, you need to put away the largest portion you can. Not just 10% or so but 40% or 60%. It is possible to do that and still live a very comfortable life. Strippers tend to live beyond their means and end up with nothing but memories of that nice sports car or that fancy apartment. If you can just keep it under control for a few years you can have that stuff for the rest of your life, long after you’re done stripping. Live within your means; base your spending around not what you make stripping but what you would make at a good entry-level job. Get a good, reliable car but you don’t need that giant SUV or fast sports car. Make sure your lease or car loan doesn’t rely on a strippers level of income to pay it. Same goes for the rent or mortgage. It’s very easy to fall on heels and break an ankle or tear up your knee, it happens all the time. You could be out of work for weeks or even months. You don’t want to be buried under a mountain of bills. I suggest buying at least basic health insurance but if you don’t you will need at least enough savings to pay for emergencies.

So what to do with the money you save? Well, set enough aside to pay for all of your expenses like food, housing, tuition, utilities, car, whatever for 4 months. This is your emergency fund, put it in your saving account and don’t spend it. The rest you should invest. I have a few well chosen mutual funds that I have been very happy with. As a stripper you’re looking to invest for the long term, at least 5 years and probably 10. Mutual funds are low maintenance and are well suited for this purpose. I strongly advise against investing in individual stocks. Despite all tales of buying low and selling high at the end of the year very few people are able to make money off buying and selling individual stocks. Stick with mutual funds, they are safer and more reliable (at least for the novice investor).

The best possible investment you can make is an education. With a nice big nest egg and a good degree you can do just about anything you want when you retire from stripping. Without an education or any job skills that money will eventually be gone. With an education you can make the most of your savings, use it as capital for your own business or invest it for a steady source of income. Too many strippers talk about how they’re planning on going back to school or they’re just taking a semester off. This is bullshit, if you want an education you need to go to school and work hard. If you’re not going to school then you’re pissing away your own future.

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At most clubs you will walk around and ask the customers if they’d like a private dance (or lap dance depending on the club). Some clubs just have stage dancing. Often there is a private area that you can go for a dance. Be careful, though, the dim lights and the privacy tend to make the guys a little frisky. Not in a bad or scary way just in a way that may need to be corrected. The most important thing to do when you’re dancing is to smile and make eye contact. Nothing turns a guy off faster then a stripper strolling bored around the stage while staring vacantly off into space. Try to make each guy you’re dancing for think he’s the only guy you’re dancing for. This is how the pros make the big bucks. At many clubs a significant part of your nightly earnings comes from private dances. Most of the time the customer will pay for you to sit and talk with them as well. Guys vary a lot but it’s always important to be attentive. Nobody likes to feel like they’re being ignored. Most guys are pretty nice and easy to talk to. Provided you’re a good listener and act interested, it’s no problem. Then you get the guys who aren’t trying to be obnoxious, they just don’t have the best social skills. They will sit and alternate between nagging you to go out with them and lying about how much money they have, how many places they’ve traveled, how important they are in their company, etc. Simpering and looks of wide-eyed wonder come in handy at this point. Some guys are an absolute pleasure to sit with, they buy plenty of dances, they visit on a regular basis, and best of all they’re lots of fun to talk too. It’s guys like this who really make it all worth while.

When dancing it’s important to stay motivated, at most clubs you are an independent contractor. You won’t get fired if you don’t work hard and no one will say anything if you decide to hang out at the bar and talk all night talking to the bartender. You need to treat being a stripper like a job and not a social experience. Decide on what time and how long you will have dinner for, the rest of the time work the floor as hard as you can. Make sure you always get at least 8 hours of sleep so you’re not tired. You’ll look and feel better. Set a clear goal, try to get 4 dances and hour, as you get better set higher goals for yourself. Never assume a passive approach and wait for them to call you over, stay moving and keep working. If it’s hard and you just can’t get motivated make a game of it, make bets with other girls on who can get the most dances. Promise yourself ice cream if you reach a certain goal, whatever you have to do to stay motivated and keep earning that money.

Learning how to properly break the ice and get invited to sit with a customer takes time. Most girls tend to just walk around to every guy in the room and ask “Wanna dance?” and then when he says no walk off. This is the exact wrong approach. Every guy in that room has enough money for at least one dance and you just have to find the right words to get them to buy one or more. “Wanna dance?” can work in a very crowded room or if a guy is already interested but it will do absolutely nothing to convince a guy who was uninterested to change his mind. It’s too easy to say no to and that is usually what happens. To start with, choose your targets, who is looking at you the most when you are on stage or dancing for other customers? Talk to the bartender (always be friends and take to the bartender) and the floor hosts about who has an open tab or has been spending a lot of money. If a bartender or floor hosts gives you a good lead and you make money ALWAYS tip them at the end of the night and that way next time they will go to you first when they see a big spender. When you approach your prospective customer try and say anything but “Wanna dance?”: would you like some company?, would you like if I joined you? If the room is slow and he seems reluctant put a very slight push on. If he says he’s not interested ask if he would mind if you just sat down and rested your feet for a minute- you’re “not used to these heels”. Few men are going to say no to that, and the “not used to these heels” implies that you’re a new dancer and invites conversation. If 10 minutes go by and he still doesn’t buy a dance don’t ask- just say “I’m sorry, I’ve got to get back to work- it’s been nice talking to you okay?” This implies that you didn’t consider sitting with him work, a slight bit of flattery that will get you a dance later. Think of this approach as “seeding” in that you may not get the dance then, but chances are you will later. After a half-hour of “wanna dance” from the other girls he’s going to wish for your company again and probably be willing to pay for it. Or even the next time he comes in your’s will be the familiar face. With this approach it’s important you not spend too long with them, always keep them hungry. Unless they’re paying don’t sit with them longer then 10 to 15 minutes and only that long if the room is very slow. If they’re used to getting it for free it’s going to be hard to get them to pay for it. You’re friendly and available and they just have to be willing to pay for it.

Never ever, sit on your own or hang out at the bar talking to other strippers. At any given time you should be either sitting with a customer, moving to another customer or on stage getting naked. If you’re just standing around they will assume you’re not busy and it will be very hard to get a customer to pay for your time because “you’re not doing anything anyway”. Look busy, if they think other men want you then they will want you. It’s important you have respect for the money they give you, so much money changes hands that girls often forget what it represents. Let’s say your customer earns $40,000 a year after taxes- probably about average income for a stripclub patron in Houston. That works out to around $20 an hour. If a customer sits with you and you make $100, that’s 5 hours of his time. If a handyman came to your house and fixed thing for 5 hours you’d say “thank you” right? Always thank the customer and make sure he knows you mean it. Even if $100 doesn’t seem like a lot of money to you to the average customer it is.

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One last thing, don’t screw with guys’ heads. It’s not cool, you can make money without doing it. I see lots of girls who string guys along implying they’ll go out with them if they just visit a few more times or laying on sob stories about their sick children or parents. Don’t do it, there is never any reason for you to lie as a stripper. After a few repetitions it gets very fake and you just come off as a greedy gold digging bitch. If you want customers to treat you with respect you should treat them with respect. If they are disrespectful just walk away, there is no reason for you to sink to their level. There are more then enough good men who will to pay you to sit, talk and laugh with them and when you dance they will treat you like a goddess. As customers they deserve your courtesy and if they don’t respect you in return they don’t deserve to have you spend time with them. Safety is a critical issue for strippers. Many menaked not understand that what we sell is a fantasy or feel that our employment makes us fair game for unwanted attentions. The six dumbest words that can leave a woman’s mouth are “I can take care of myself”. No you can’t, and get any notion that you’re some kind of tough girl out of your head. Men are bigger, stronger and meaner. They’ve been beating and raping women for thousands of years now and have pretty much got it down pat. Your little kick boxing lessons at the health club will not help you. If a grown man hits you full force you will be knocked unconscious and very likely break the bones in your face. Do not ever make safety decisions based on your opinion of your ability to defend yourself.

I personally think that carrying weapons or taking martial art, self-defense classes etc. are a bad idea for most women. The most effective way to survive is to be scared; anything that makes you brave makes you more likely to walk into a dangerous situation. If you have a gun in your purse you might be more likely to take that shortcut home, or take a ride with a man you don’t know very well or any number of risky things. If you’re scared you’re careful, if you’re careful you don’t get into trouble. If you are a feature stripper, have a very public presence (website or modeling), or have had problems with a stalker then a gun may be something you want to consider purchasing. You need to be trained in it’s use and practice with it at a firing range at least once every few months. Don’t bother carrying one unless you comfortable with the idea of killing someone. That’s what guns are for, you’re not going to be shooting knives out of anyone’s hands, you’re going to be trying to make a hole in the center of their torso. If you have small hands like me you can have a gunsmith machine a trigger guard that will comfortable fit your finger but too small for the finger of a grown man. But I would like to emphasize, most women are far better off not carrying a gun. Only if you are in a position of constantly being exposed to unavoidable danger is it an option.

One never wishes to blame the victim but every single girl I know without exception who has ever gotten into trouble was doing something most women would consider risky or just plain stupid. Don’t take chances- the stakes are too high. As a stripper, leaving the club after work is the time when you are most vulnerable. I have only gotten scared twice at work. On both occasions it was when an overly enthusiastic customer decided to wait for me outside the club after closing. On both occasions the men were just confused about the nature of what a stripper does and were quickly dealt with by security. This being said, transportation is a critical safety issue that you really have to think about. Going to work is not a problem because customers can’t really see where you are coming from. Leaving is when you have to be most vigilant. Public transportation is out of the question, it’s too easy to be followed and is rarely safe at the hours you’ll be riding. I’d suggest sharing a cab with one of the other girls. If you decide to drive, make very sure that your car is reliable, last thing you need is a break down on an empty road at 3AM. A cell phone is a good thing to have. Make sure when you register you car you do it to another address (friend, parent, etc.). That way if some creep takes down your license plate number he can’t find out your home address. For obvious reasons never give any personal info to anyone who knows you as a stripper, including other strippers. There are strippers and bouncers who will give the information to customers for money or as a favor. There is no reason anyone needs to know anything but your stage name. Don’t tell them where you live or what school you go to no matter how trust worthy they seem. Once that information is out it’s very difficult to put back in the box.

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We are not all success stories. I had my eye on the prize the first time someone slipped money in my garter. I learned how to capitalize on a man’s willingness to part with his hard earned money to see me naked. Done properly, a stripper can sock away grand amounts of cash just by dancing naked, and it can end as a very fruitful career choice. Not every girl is a naturally born stripper, you have to be willing to work your ass off, and then the world holds endless possibilities for you.

Is The Price Of “Sex” Getting Cheaper?

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I was strangely surprised to see the following message as inline text from a long time information donator to T.S.O.T.S.B. from a long time personal friend of mine. Normally she sends me links, pictures, and/or ideas to pick and choose from once or twice a month. But this time, this time she sent “words” from some place and did not reference a source of any sorts. Meaning, therefore I didn’t have an opportunity to see where all this came from. In the end, she used it to ask me a question about the strip club industry, she wanted to know if the “economy” determines how much money I make as a bartender or how much money a stripper is paid.

I wish I had a simple answer. Just as well, she was only trying to help me to tie into my “Sex sells everything” experiment I have been doing here and she just wanted to “show” that sex sells sex sometimes. As a bartender in a full nude strip club I tend to see many things the “average” person isn’t even aware is going on in the first place. To begin with, I see the flow of money, the exchanges that happen casually to “purchase” that special experience. A trend I have seen and heard is that there has became a new meaning to the arts of negotiation because, let’s all face the facts, people want more bang for their buck while paying as little as possible, so hard core economics comes into play. Strippers have a bottom line, of course, but they have the skills to never have to accept bottom dollar for anything they have to offer, they will not sell themselves short for any reason since they are there to separate customers from as much of their money as possible.

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“They keep talking about recovery, but for many folks, work doesn’t pay what it used to. According to a recent report, Manhattan and Los Angeles counties lead America in falling wages. In the counties which contain Dallas, Phoenix, and Chicago, workers are also seeing their paycheck shrink. We can add sex workers to the list of people dealing with falling income.

Th Economist examined over 190,000 profiles of female sex workers on websites that feature customer reviews. Based on that data, which covered 84 cities and 12 countries (with the majority of workers in the United States), an interesting trend was revealed: the price of an hour with a female sex worker has been plunging. The average cost nationwide in 2014 is $260, down from $340 back in 2006.

What’s going on? What a sex worker charges depends on many things, including what types of services are involved, the location, and the physical attributes of the worker. Sex workers who conform to Western standards of beauty can charge more. Blondes get a premium, as do those with slim (but not too skinny) bodies and ample breasts. Getting fake boobs can really pay off in sex work: “For those not naturally well endowed, breast implants may make economic sense: going from flat-chested to a D-cup increases hourly rates by approximately $40, meaning that at a typical price of $3,700, surgery could pay for itself after around 90 hours.”

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Other ways sex workers can charge more is to provide niche services like having sex with two men at once, or providing S&M role-playing. Big-city sex workers in places like New York, Houston, Los Angeles, and London can charge more, too.

According to the Economist, the reason behind the drop in price is partly the 2007-’08 financial crisis. Other factors, like the migration of poorer sex workers into richer areas can also cause a drop in prices. This trend has been happening in Europe since the European Union expanded to include poorer eastern European countries, which has sent workers across borders. A 2013 article in Time magazine noted that Germany had become the “Cut-Rate Prostitution Capital of the World,” with thousands of brothels and “hundreds of thousands of prostitutes,” many from places like Romania and Bulgaria, dealing with intense competition and pushed-down prices. (Prostitution became legal in Germany in 2002.) In Berlin, oral sex from an Eastern European sex worker can reportedly be had for as little as $13.

The Internet is to blame, too, as more people are selling sex online. Because it’s easier and more discreet to sell sex online, women who in the past may have avoided such work are signing up. “More attractive and better-educated women, whose marital and job prospects are therefore better, are more likely to consider sex work easily if it is arranged online,” notes the report. Technology increases the efficiency and speed of matching client to sex worker: there are even apps which allow customers to filter sex workers according to specifications like breast size, age or height. A new German app even promises that you can order a sex worker the way you would order an Uber car, using GPS to connect client to worker.

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But changing attitudes toward sex work in our society are also part of this trend. The stricter a society is about casual and adulterous sex, the more sex work will be in demand. The acceptance of premarital sex and divorce mean that men are less likely to be driven to sex workers because they can’t get their sexual needs met anywhere else.

It’s a bummer to be a sex worker when prices are falling. But interestingly, it looks like incomes may not have fallen as steeply as the decline in prices would suggest, because sex workers have been able to cut expenses.”

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Another Life, Another Time

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I generally get a handful of texts and e-mails every week from people I worked with at Club X. Usually just to let me known whats been happening and what will be happening. I suppose it is done to “keep me in the loop” even though I have been out of that loop for quite some time now. I generally do not reply to 99% because there usually isn’t anything for me to say. Now, I have two people, one stripper and one waitress, that I do keep up with and talk to regularly because we all became decent friends over the years I worked there. What makes them special you might ask? I will make a long story short, because it actually took me a few months to figure out what was going on. In the beginning I thought there was just the waitress who also was a stripper on her off nights. She would talk to me like normal regardless of what shoes she was wearing that night. Then, out of the blue, after a couple of months, she was on the dance floor stripping and at the same exact time she was waitressing. I thought I had lost my damn mind at first and then they both came over to the bar I was working and sat down, the both smiled while they just sat there looking at me. Yes, now I know, they are twin sisters. There had always been the two of them and few, if anybody, knew about it. Most people in the club thought the same thing I did. Anyway, a friendship grew and developed and now they keep in contact with me quite a bit.

This morning I get an e-mail from them asking me if I miss being a bartender there. They also known I was laid off and wanted to known why I just don’t come back. Do I miss being a bartender there? Not really. I do miss the money but I have said this all before now. I’m sure I could go back to bartending and it would be a decent paycheck, but I walked away when I did for some very specific reasons, first and foremost it was because I was done working nights and second is the hours I worked. It was a freaking part time job yet I worked 50-60 hours a week while having a day job doing 40 hours a week. You do the math, I was tired, more like exhausted, no walked around like a freaking zombie most days. So, I gave up bartending at the strip club, with that I have up about $100k a year, so yes, it has been missed. However, after doing that for 5 years, I socked away a nice start to a retirement, which, so far, we haven’t had to dip into, as of yet. I think it would take something very drastic to get me to go back permanently. Not that time is not now. I liked it after I quite, I see my family now and we have relationships now, something we could not have when I was working nights. I won’t bore y’all with the issues that job caused with my wife. I will say that it wasn’t for the reasons y’all might be thinking, it was simpler, it was because I was never home to spend time with her, ever, and it had a tremendous impact on our marriage. I will leave it there.

I do miss the people, I do miss bartending, and yes, I even miss being surrounded by hundreds of totally nude woman every day. The scenery was always nice. But, back in the real world is where I belong. Perhaps if I was single it would be different. One never knows. As always, the sisters like to include pictures of themselves at work, and to date the one shown here today has been the only one I have been able to share. I wonder, daily, where my life is going, and with often reminders of the past I see that wherever it is that I am supposed to be going is probably I’m the direction I am already headed. I am happier now that I have been in so many years. That’s what we should be, right, happy in our life? Personally, I think that is the answer.