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Open mic, open mind

Open mic, open mind

rock-showIt turns out “shock rocker” Alice Cooper is not exactly what you think. But who is?

Flipping channels the other night I happened across an interview with Alice Cooper. I recognized him right away. He’s that rock star who’s  been around forever, the one with macabre stage theatrics that feature giant snakes, guillotines, electric chairs and fake blood. The songs are staples on rock radio, “Schools Out,” “Poison,” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” He had a record called, “Welcome to My Nightmare.” I figured I knew most of what there was to know about the guy, and anything left probably qualified as some variant of twisted hedonistic rock excess.

Watching the interview for two minutes though I learned that Alice Cooper isn’t his real name, he was born Vincent Damon Furnier. I also learned that the stage name, “Alice Cooper,” is also the name of the band (like Jethro Tull and Marilyn Manson). And as for the presumed wild lifestyle, well it turns out Cooper’s been sober and  married to the same woman since Ronald Reagan was president.

Apparently the guy checks the leather clothes and makeup in his dressing room and prefers watching “The Simpsons” to partying. And, to top it off, the so-called “Godfather of Shock” doesn’t practice any dark arts either, instead he’s a regular church goer.

I was never a big fan of Alice Cooper, but I thought I had him all figured out. Why complicate things by learning more? To our ancestors, making snap judgments came in handy. Determining the difference between friend and foe by someone’s war paint kept you alive a little longer.

But today, how often do we put some one in a category based on what we see or hear, especially if that’s the image they want to portray? Catching this interview with Mr. Cooper was a little reminder to me that when it when it comes to understanding our fellow humans, well, school’s never really out.

More business? Not today, thanks!

More business? Not today, thanks!

Photo Credit CEBImagery

Photo Credit CEBImagery

Shimmering rows of new vehicles gleamed in the late afternoon sun as I pulled into the dealership. The latest models of every style and color awaited my inspection. Ah, the potential!

I was in the mood to hear some special offers. I was in the mood for that new car smell. So I strode into the dealership and six men in ties paused in their conversation around a reception desk.

Hi,” I said.

Sorry, we’re closed,” one of them replied.

Closed?”

Yea, we’ll be open again on Monday,” another fellow added.

Monday?” I looked at my watch, it was five minutes past the hour. They nodded then turned to resume their conversation as I sheepishly backed out through the doors.

Closed? I thought as I walked across the lot. And the more I thought about it the stranger it seemed.  This wasn’t a dollar-type store, this was an establishment that sold 4000 lb vehicles with $45,000 thousand dollar price stickers. How did they know I didn’t have a blank check in my pocket?  How did they not want to find out? 

I know what it’s like to work long hours so I tried to think of ways to give them a break;  maybe it was a really busy day, maybe they all had important post-work plans, like a wedding or funeral. Maybe management was strict about the hours—some kind of policy or something. Even then, wouldn’t one of them have wanted to get my contact info to follow up with me first thing Monday? You would think.

I thought about the lengthy, costly, time consuming process involved in getting me into the dealership: the vehicles had to be designed, then manufactured, then shipped, and marketed. All that work to get the vehicle on the lot and someone like me through the door.

As I drove away with a plan to go elsewhere all I could think of was that being a leader in whatever business you’re in means being open to opportunity beyond 9-5.

Today more than ever, right?