The Trashman Chronicles: Back in Time for the End of the Year!

My goodness. Has it really been almost 4 months since I’ve last written? I guess it really hasn’t hit me until recently how much I’ve missed writing for my (hopefully still) loyal readers and well, really, for myself. Alas, there is no Phoenix euphemism for what has occurred this time. (I already used my allotment of those on this blog the last time there was a lengthy break!)

I know that many rumors have been started about The Heapmaster’s whereabouts, especially with the blog’s last twitter update being “The Heap Master is really, really drunk.” No, I am not dead, lost at sea, or buried beneath pile and piles of trash. I was these things at some point in the last few months, but no longer.

One of the worst feelings in the world I believe is watching as the life gets sucked out of you, and knowing there really isn’t much you can do about it. Sure, part of it is your own fault, but for the most part, you’re at the hands of the will of the World’s governing force. It’s almost been 6 months since my last life update, so I guess it’s appropriate that it comes at the end of a rather tumultuous year.

I last left you in July with news of Wedding Bells, luxury sedans, Golden Domes, and relative happiness. I did make it up to PV’s wedding in July, and it was so wonderful to see everyone together getting absolutely obliterated on the dance floor. Heck we even made it to The Backer! The morning after wasn’t so glorious (apologies to the janitorial staff of Carroll Hall), but it was great to walk campus and see everything again. It made it all seem less like a dream.

In August, I started The Heap’s Recycling Project, as I dieted until the end of October. Since I didn’t update, my progress wasn’t logged. But, I lost 30 lbs! I made it down to 240! These days I’m hovering around 245. I was forced to stop the project thanks to the development of a “cevacious cyst” on my back! So after finally getting that removed, I was forced on a month or so respite from doing the trash! So obviously, with that went the hardcore exercise routine. I am back to it, and all efforts will be renewed come 2010 due to a friends bachelor party cruise in September. 3o more lbs and I would be set!

November was an awful, awful month. And to be honest with you, I couldn’t give you specific reasons. Sure, there was the infamous rear ending and ticket fiasco. Almost $200 later after ticket and driving school costs, now I await the jacking up of my insurance rates in June. Work was a little rough as well. And well things were just not going in the direction I wanted them to go. What ever was left of my relationship crumbled away. It will take a little bit of time to heal.

Things started turning around Thanksgiving break after the High School crew came in to town. So as you can imagine, nights of unfettered debauchery ensued. It was fun to see everyone again and meet new people as we went out.

So here we are, at the end of the year. This year, more than any other in recent memory, really flew by fast. A lot has changed in the latter half, and I’m ok with that. I just know that I am back, not only here to my writing duties, but to my commitments as a friend, brother, son, and employee. I feel my spirit returning, after months of seeming like I was a zombie going through the motions. God sends blessings at the most unexpected times. This year seems to be ending on a good note, and I am excited for what 2010 will bring.

-The Heap Master

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The Trashman Chronicles: “It’s Been a While”

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Oh, how it’s been a while- for many things! It’s been a while since I’ve had a TTMC entry, letting my readers know what I’ve been up to and how things are going since graduating from Notre Dame in 2008. It’s has definitely been a while since I had had a nice little vacation from working. And of course, it had been a very LONG while since I had seen Kitty.

I don’t remember when was the last time I even did a TTMC, it’s been that long. So we’ll do a brief summary of the first half of 2009.

Life’s still a bit uncertain for me, even looking at it today. It’s daunting, to say the least, but it’s nice to see I’m not alone at times. Some many friends in the middle of their own transitions, changes, and even reaching new stages in life. Whoever says they are certain about life is lying to themselves. We can only guess what tomorrow will bring. We can only hope that there is a tomorrow.

Rest assured, death is a guarantee… and if you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ll know that taxes are very guaranteed these days.

As for me, trash… mountains and mountains of trash… are guaranteed almost daily, not to mention a constant flow of patients with psychiatric, diabetic and/or blood pressure issues. It appears that I’ll be secure for now, and for that I must thank God.

February I went to Texas for Valentine’s Day. Aside from a dramatic breakdown by your’s truly, it was a fantastic trip… but it was the last time I saw Kitty until last weekend…

Since then, I have been working nonstop. I’ve gone out with friends when I could, but nothing too big. I did make it out to visit Tom and Bobby in Omaha for a weekend, where Mike met up with us too. ND hockey was also in town, so it was nice to see them in action. ND hockey would be the first sporting event I go to as an alumnus!

Since then, just work. I’ve met my sister’s boyfriend, we’ve celebrated Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day. We’ve celebrated birthdays and graduations. My grandparents from Puerto Rico came for a month. It was nice to see them!

I finally got my raise at work after my 6 month anniversary. Thanks to the trash I was able to put down a heft down payment for my new car, (post to come soon). I’ve watched someone I didn’t think would settle down this early find the love of his life, and move in together, starting life on his own. As a friend, it been a joy watching his success in work and a renewed motivation for school.

I’ve hit rough patches in my own relationships with family, friends, and Kitty. While the situation hasn’t been the most ideal lately, I’ve gotten a bit better at letting things go. I still have a ways to go in improving myself, but it’s a step in the right direction. Though my mind has wavered lately with everything that has happened in the last couple of months, I know that I couldn’t make it without her. We’ll get through this and we’ll get through anything. (There will be a more in depth entry for the vacation later!)

So that brings us to today.

Today is the night before I go up to Notre Dame. I’m going up for PV’s wedding. This will be the first wedding of a close friend I will go to, so it’s going to be pretty special to see someone take their relationship to the next step. It will be extra special with my date by my side!

It will be heartwrenching to see that Dome, and the quad, and the stadium, and Dillon, and Howard, and my friends, and going out… Oh how I miss everything.

So there you have it in a nutshell. I’m doing well, as I continue to grow and mature. Thank you all for reading, and may God bless you all!

Stay tuned for the next TTMC entries: Kitty/Moosie Vacation Time and A Notre Dame Summer Weekend!

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TTMC: The Thankful Edition

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Monday looms on the horizon. And with that, December and the countdown to holidays will begin! But of course, there is plenty of time this Sunday to reflect upon what we are thankful for here at the heap.

First and foremost, being able to have a dinner. God has blessed us here with a loving family, excellent cooking ability, and a mediocre metabolism. But emphasis on the family part.

What a meal! Special thanks to Abuelo and Mom for cooking the meat. Even Nicole pitched in with her classic green bean casserole. I, of course, am the expert turkey slicer. It pays to be nice. I decided the rations!

What a beautiful bird! It was deeeeeelicious. And I highly recommend the white wine Chateau Ste. Michelle. While I had a glass or two, I can’t say I can kill off a wine in less than an hour 😉

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, where you may have spent it! Never forget to thank God for all that you have, especially as we become more successful… and never let us forget to help out those who need it!

The heap’s Ultimate Thanks List:

Families, no matter how unorthodox or dysfunctional they may be, my Texan Kitty- for always being there no matter what, my job- which allows me to make a difference… as little as it may be, friendships- near and far, music- what usully gets me through the day (other than feline filled thoughts!), and so many more things!

Let’s get mentally prepared for Christmas now, perhaps what Christians are most thankful for. Presents aren’t bad either!

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The Trashman Chronicles: The Office Edition!

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I know this entry will present a bit of an interrupton with the sequence of TTMCs, but I just wanted to share with everyone pictures of my new office, and well, just a rundown with what’s been going on in my life! it has been hectic and full of changes in the past few months, so I’ll take a little bit of time to share with everyone the events of my life.

As everyone has known, the job market in general has been challenging. Add into the mix having an English degree, and you’ve got a nice little volatile concoction of unemployment followed by panic and grief. It has been a tough few months after graduation. It’s been bittersweet to see you all having the initial parts of your lives figured out. I can only feel happiness for everyone who is continuing studies, and for you all who have entered the workforce in your fields and are already successful at your jobs. Its wonderful to see people you’d do anything for get to this point. But of course, by the same token, it’s hard feeling that I have nothing to show for what work I did at ND. Add the sense of urgency felt as a result of sizeable loans closing in on me soon… well, you can just say I was feeling really down.

So at the beginning of October, being in need of a job, I was forced to take a labor position back at the truck shop, while also doing the trash. I certainly had to have been one of the most highly educated laborers/trash dudes in the country! Don’t get me wrong, it’s something I enjoy, and I loved the people I worked with. It was great becuase for many, I had become an adopted son, the one who went to college and came back to share stories of my youth… I lived their dreams. Also, I hoped I motivated some of the younger guys to go back and get that degree. One guy I worked with recently decided to stay in school instead of drop out because I talked to him. Affecting a decision like that is more touching than anything could ever be.

But, at the same time, it was really bothering me that having this degree I had to work so hard for a pittance. It became much more evident that it just wasn’t my place anymore. I needed to touch the world in a different place. And my opportunity came a few weeks ago. I received a call from the husband of one of my moms pharmacist friends. I had interviewed for this position way back in September. I went to the interview and pretty much walked out of there thinking there was no way I had gotten the job. I had no pharmacy experience whatsoever, and I had no idea what she was even talking about. So thinking this, I took the job at the truch shop without thinking about it.

So a month later, I get a call from my current boss offering me a job. I couldn’t say yes fast enough. So I happily finished out the week at the shop, took the next week off, and started last Monday!

I love my new job. It doesn’t pay that well, but really, it’s satisfying. Also, it’s really improving my phone and communication abilities, while increasing my knowledge and interest in public health. I love talking with clients on the phone and finding that common ground, which for many of my clients is the fact that we speak Spanish. It’s also nice to be on the receiving end of gratitude. Our company provides free brand name medicine for qualified individuals in Hillsborough County, so we are pretty much dealing with the lowest of the low. They have to be at or below the poverty line. Many of the cases are that of HIV or STDs, and these medicines are extremely expensive. Some meds for Hepititis C clients are around 20k. That’s some time doube their income for the year. Through our partnership with the county and our relatioship with the pharamceutical companies which make the medicines, our clients are able to get them for free.

So what I’ve been doing for the past week is calling clients, one by one, and informing them we are their new PAP provider and advocate. We’ve been scheduling appointments for this week, and I am booked all of Monday morning! So when they come in, we take copies of some info we need, get them to sign a waiver, and just talk about their meds and which of them are covered by the plan. The day goes by pretty quick!

And another perk was that I got my own office! And I have plenty of pics to share of it! First, yours truly in action!

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Just your typical day at “Pharmacy Administrative Solutions, This is Josh.”

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Nice little overview of everything, from my office door. Nice collection of sticky notes I have going on. LOTS of things to do!

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Middle of the desk. My phone that I am on non stop! and my cool desk calendar for 2009 from my Aunt! Notice the ND binder!

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My computer. Brand new… very fast. Nifty pharmacy program we use too. My M&M dispenser is now full of green and red M&M’s!

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The other side of my desk! Full of papers pens, World Series Tickets… and of course, a picture of Angel and me!

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And lastly, a picture of my files! I already have so many things going on in there!

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading about what’s been going on. Hope all of you are doing well. I miss everyone dearly. I hope to see you all soon.

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The Trashman Chronicles III: Austin Adventures Part 2 – Dinner and a Movie, REAL Tacos, and Swimming in a Spring

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After battling Austin traffic and disputing the sneaky directions of my ancient GPS, we finally made it back to the apartment. I was pretty spent after all of that, so we just relaxed a little bit. It was then time to leave for the first movie we had seen together in two months! We love seeing movies together, (It was like our first technical outing… oh that Cloverfield 😉 ) so naturally we wanted to do that. We had both been salivating over Righteous Kill, starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. I love movies about “the streets” I guess you could say, particularly when it involves interesting moral dilemmas such as what was presented in the movie (Don’t worry heapsters, a full review is coming soon!).

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But we didn’t just go to any regular old movie theater. Nooo, we went to this place called Alamo Drafthouse, an integral part of the unique Austin experience. So of course, the name itself suggests the presence of beer. I’m sure most big towns have a theater that serves alcohol these days. But this place was amazingly different. They had some of the greatest domestic and foreign beers on tap! I HAD to jump on the Paulaner Hefeweizen! Now what really takes the cake is that you are served dinner before and during the movie! It’s not just some weak menu either… the selection was superb, having anything from salads and appetizers to burgers and sandwiches to delicious oven baked pizzas. We shared queso and chips with some baked potato bites. So good. For dinner, we decided on the “Raging Bull” pizza, which is essentially a “meat lovers” pizza. There were giant slices of sausage and pepperoni, and needless to say that we utterly devoured it all.

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Just so you get a sense of it, just picture your typical “stadium style” seating arrangement, and then add convenient tables and menus! It was such an amazing experience! And of course, being with her and seeing a great movie wasn’t that shabby either!

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Afterward, we drove aimlessly around “IH-35” trying to find a mythological Wal-Mart, because I needed to buy a charger for my phone, and we came back to the apartment to sleep, since Angel had to go to class on Friday.

I was awoken by a demanding kitten who wanted me to take her to school. What nerve! So we made that little drive to UT Law school. I went driving around for a little bit, and I stumbled upon this chain called Fiesta. It was like a Mexican supermarket. They had like a bakery making tortillas (a tortilleria), and so many other delicacies and sweets, not to mention the hardcore market style carniceria. I was blown away. I bought some stuff to make a quick breakfast sandwich, and waited to pick her up from school.

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By the time I picked her up, it was time for lunch! SO after a scenic drive by of UT’s football stadium and other landmarks on the way to lunch, we finally pull up to Torchy’s, a hole in the wall taco joint. I was pumped, and the line out the door only fueled my unkempt desire for authentic Mexican. Looking around, the tacos looked delicious. So we glance at the MENU, and I decided on the “Brushfire Taco”

Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, Sour cream, and cilantro served on a flour tortilla with Diablo sauce.

I love jerk flavoring and anything that is devastatingly spicy. The sweetness of the mango definitely added a tasty contrast to the heat! That diablo sauce is also exquisite! I wish I could get a bottle of that stuff! I also had the “Trailer Park” Taco.

Fried chicken, green chili’s, lettuce, pico, and Cheese served on a flour tortilla with poblano ranch.
Get it trashy! Take off the lettuce and add queso!

Needless to say I had it dirty, and it was delicious. By far the best tacos I had ever had! Next time I want to try the “Dirty Sanchez” taco. I don’t even care whats in it, I just want to try it for the namesake.

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We drove back to the apartment and we changed into our bathing suits. We were going on our second adventure, swimming at Barton Springs! According to my research, various sources state that the spring remains a cool 68F! Let me tell you, you feel it when you jump in for the first time! You definitely have to move around to get some semblance of sensation back! We had a blast! Angel’s not the biggest fan of water, but that’s what makes her great 🙂 She brought us juuuust because I’d enjoy it! But she knows she had a good time. No where else in the vicinity can you swim, lay out in the sun, almost get pooped on by a bird AND smell like algae for the rest of the day!

We dried up and headed to the Barton Creek Mall to walk around and mostly do some window shopping, though I did happen to find a great shirt at Express. Well actually, she found it after a 10 minute sifting through the clearance shirts! The mall was really nice and pretty big. I was impressed. Our time at the mall ended with an hour long stop at a nail parlor… for some reason, it took them 1 hour… maybe even more, just to pull her tips off! I’m sure it was just retaliation for not having something else done like eyebrows or a pedicure.

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Finally after a long day, we needed some dinner. We ate at a place called Shady Grove, which amounted to be what I described as a homestyle restaurant with Texan and Mexican influence. It’s pretty sweet, as most of the seating is outside under trees with a nice bar in a shack. There’s also a giant screen, giving it a drive is sort of feel. The bathrooms were really unique because they were located in an Airstream Trailer! We ate inside since we were outside for so long today, and because it was shorter. It took maybe 15 minutes to be seated. We opened the menu and we immediately knew what we wanted. We actually ordered the same thing… Chicken Fried Chicken! We placed our orders and asked for some waters… which came in giant 1 L cups. They don’t mess around in Texas. They brought out our salads, which were excellent. We seriously waited maybe or 10 minutes for our food to come out! I mean I wasn’t even done with the salad! And again, they DON’T mess around in Texas. I mean, this piece of chicken was massive, not to mention delicious! They have this rice there… some of the best tasting rice I’ve ever had.

So, after that we just made our way back and watched some TV before we went to sleep. We had to rest up for our trip to San Antonio!

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Regrettably Back Home…

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But not because I don’t want to write for you heapsters. Alas, I have returned from my trip to Austin, Texas! I had a blast, to say the least, but details will be coming the rest of this week, so forgive my brevity regarding specific details! Though the trip did leave me with quite a dilemma. I don’t really know what I love more, Angel, or Texas! Needless to say, it was QUITE the great vacation.

Unfortunately, my little hiatus left me gravely disconnected (quite literally) from the world! Our various pages have been UPDATED (Rays, Bucs, Notre Dame). Speaking of the Rays, they CLINCHED a playoff birth! Congratulations to our hometown boys, and their first venture into the post season. But of course, there is still a division to win! The magic number has been reduced to 2, meaning the Rays can potentially clinch tomorrow, if Boston loses and they Rays finish off the sweep of Baltimore. Here’s a video of the Tropicana Field Madness after clinching a playoff berth!

The Bucs also won surprisingly in OT in Chicago, while Notre Dame lost to Michigan State. The Tampa Bay Lightning have also opened training camp and have even played a few pre season games, opening the Barry Melrose Era, or the regime of the mullet. We’ll have a page for them up tomorrow probably.

So as you probably are expecting, there will be a new TTMC with stories and adventures from Texas. Also, a movie review should be up as well! And I haven’t forgotten about our sci fi list! We should wrap that up by this weekend. In addition, I always have some random, crazy stories to share that I find online! You can expect some of those too. We’ll get back to it tomorrow!

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The Trashman Chronicles II: Pyramid Scheming

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Searching for jobs can be a daunting task, especially recently with the constant downward spiral the economy has been in for a few years. Quite simply, it has become a bit harder to find work, especially if you’re degree is in something unconventional, such as English. Despite the recent news headlines being about the failures of esteemed financial giants, the sad reality is that companes like these are willing to hire younger people and lay off long tenured employees because it is ultimately cheaper. We know how the system works. Same work for lower cost = high profits. Sad but true.

My latest journey into the financial employment world occurred last Thursday, but really, its roots go as far back as late May/ early June at Wal-Mart. It was just one of your typical hot Florida summers, and I was in the middle of moving back home after graduating from Notre Dame. Lots and losts of stuff all around, but I had managed to organize and unpack everything, buy a bookcase, hang my TV on the wall, and other nice, new touches to my room. But I needed some pictures to fill up some frames. So, I loaded up my SD card and went to Wal-Mart to get some pictures developed. Seeing that 1 hour services were available, I did this, and figured I would just wait around the store. I looked at a few new CDs and DVDs, played a song or two on Rock Band, and sat down on a bench, just watching people, like I usually like to do. So some guy from the Verizon stand comes up and starts talking to me. He was a nice guy, and well, it was definitely better thatn sitting around for another 40 minutes, so we were just talking about Notre Dame and how the guy’s brother played college ball and about his fledgling musical career and stuff like that. So then he starts talking about how he’s getting ready to leave Wal-Mart and start working at this financial company which “educated people about money.” Sounded interesting, so I gave him my info and that was that. I got a call the next day, but for some reason, I didn’t feel like picking up, nor did I feel particularly confident about the opportunity so I just let it go by the wayside, assuming that I would be able to find something more promising. Plus, it seemed like there was a catch. Getting paid to educate people about money? There had to be more.

And that’s the end of that right? So I thought. The months passed, and I can safely say I didn’t think about the whole opportunity once. And then, a phone call on September 10th. I didn’t recognize the number, but I picked up. It was Verizon Wal-Mart Guy. After answering, he went off about how I had been contacted in the past but because of timing it just didn’t work out, and so on. It didn’t click until much later why I was called back. But of course, at the time I felt that it was a God-given second chance. The fact that I was in a pretty desperate position regarding employment didn’t help. So of course, I said I was interested. What ensued was an impromptu phone “interview.” So the questions were all geared toward my “people skills” and what not, and any pertinent experience in a supervisory/ role of leadership. So of course I’m thinking, “Ok cool, I guess they are looking for people to be in charge, but what does this have to do with money education?” The last question was where did I see myself in 5 years, and I kind of botched it, but did ok. So Wal-Mart dude said, “based on your answers you passed the pre-screen and we’d love for you to come in tomorrow to see the office and we’ll answer some questions about the company and we’ll determine if you qualify for further consideration. Sounded official, hardcore, and legit. So I was a bit excited and nervous.

Little. Did. I. Know. that I was about to be the latest contestant on…. (watch the vid to hear the music! Just the first minute)

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YES! The I want your hard work hours pyramid! Thursday afternoon I ventured over to Brandon, a bit of a drive for me, and arrived up on the 12th floor. I was the first one there, binder full of resumes and notes in hand. I walked into the office and BAM! Primerica – a Citi Subsidiary adorned the wall in appropriately patriotic red and blue. The receptionist was nice, and she gave me a name tag. So I sat and waited. Others came in ranging from a younger girl who worked at McDonald’s to an older woman recently laid off by Coca Cola. Wal-Mart guy was there and ushered us into an empty room with a pretty sweet view, and of course, let the propaganda begin! We introduced ourselves. I said that I had graduated from Notre Dame, and I got a huge wowwww. That should have been a sign. Many more would come. So the office Vice President came and lead the newly recruited herd into the presentation room, where we endured an hour long presentation. It was certainly informative, and I really liked the premise of the company, to help financially challenged middle class families. But there was something fishy. The luster wore off for me as soon as the second speaker, who was answering the rhetorical “Is there a need for what Primerica does” question stated that he was a USF dropout. No degree? I was a bit surprised, but you know, maybe they gave him a chance. Then came the deal breaker, the VP came to talk last for 30 minutes. He subliminally explained a pyramid structure! It all became unraveled. He enticed the onlookers with the VP salary of 6 figures, and that he was looking for others to fill in the slots in the expansion process. Other hints he had been giving we’re little comments about he wanted a job that where it didn’t matter if he came into work, that the company kept going if he wasn’t there and that he kept making money. Yuck. He almost had me. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, though I did sign up for a follow up interview just to see.

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Was I surprised when I came home and researched the company. Oh, it’s not a pyramid scheme per se, but there was a eerie feeling in that office. A very cult-ish type feeling. This was only proved by my research. Check this out to read what people like me, who blindly went to the meetings.

Primerica Complaints!

Sift through some of that, some experiences are really, REALLY bad. I understand that in theory, it’s not a scheme, that it takes A LOT of hard work, cold calling, references… but what really turned me off was my “pre screen application” where I had to put SIX non family references! even for Verizon, with whom I have also interviewed I only had 2 or 3! then t all made sense. Since the company is all word of mouth and reference based… all I was doing was giving them six LEADS!

Needless to say, I didn’t go to the interview Friday, but rather went and tailgated for USF-Kansas. And that s how I survived pyramidic disaster!

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