ORIGINS, AND A FEW GENERAL PRINCIPLES, OF DAMAGE CONTROL
“People don’t seem to understand it’s a damn war out there.” – Jimmy Connors
“All warfare is based on deception.” – Sun Tzu THE DRIPPING FACE OF DOOM
Okay, so you screwed up.
Again. You’re as surprised as anyone. You can’t believe what a mutt, what a mook, what a plum duff you are.
“Oh, my God,” you might find yourself thinking. “I’m a freak! A fool! I’m screwed!”
You may begin to hyperventilate, to start to schvitz
from fear, your hyperactive hypothalamus douching your entire bodybag in a fine, sour-scented mist of flop-sweats.
Your heart might start fibrillating wildly, like a broken metronome.
To try to keep cool, you may go into the washroom to splash some cold water on your frazzled face. But when you look up from the basin at the mug in the mirror, it’s not your face you see.
It’s . . . the Dripping Face of Doom!
But take it easy. Relax, son. Sister, ease your foot off the panic pedal.
Team Damage Control, aka the cavalry, is here.
And we think we can help you. We’re going to talk you through this, show you how to shake it off, and come out stronger, faster, smarter, and swinging harder than ever.
Take a deep breath. Inhale and exhale. Where’s that famous smile?
There it is! Why, look at you: you’re beautiful!
You may lose the odd battle here and there. But we want to show you how to win the war. We’re going to absorb the details of your latest debacle, then talk you through the aftermath and beyond; show you how you can come out of a variety of fiascos smiling and snapping your fingers and humming a little tune and smelling – well, if not like a rose, then at least not like someone who was making a shit-shake and forgot to put the top on the blender.
The sun will shine again, sunshine.
Everything’s going to be fine. Everything’s going to work out for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds.
But before we go any further, we realize you may have a couple of questions.
Like, first: who are these guys, Pat Lynch and David Eddie?
And second: who do they think
they are, calling themselves “the cavalry” and talking trash like “We’re here, we think we can help you” and la la la and promising – what? To turn back time and undo our mistakes?
But no: we never said undo.
In fact, that is Damage Control Rule No. 1
: You can’t undo.
There is no undoing. Trying to undo could be your undoing.
As Omar Khayyam (Persian poet, ad 1048–1122) put it: “The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”
Or, to put it another way – and this is in fact one of Damage Control’s corporate mottos, which we sometimes shout out on the dance floor at company parties:
“What’s done is done and can’t be undone/The bell that’s rung, it can’t be un-rung/The sands of time, they can’t un-run/You did the deed, now it’s gotta be spun!”
Then we all blow our little whistles and wave our glowsticks in the air.
Or, perhaps, to put it in even simpler, almost cowpoketype language (and if it helps, you may imagine us removing our ten-gallon hats, scratching our sweaty melons, squinting across a dusty prairie-patch, and spitting a brown stream of tobacco-laced saliva into a nearby spittoon as we say): “Son, you doggone gone and done what you doggone gone and done. And sister: ain’t nothin’ under the blazing sun gonna change that. The $64,000,000* question is: what’re yew gonna do now
(* All figures adjusted for inflation. Also, Damage Control International was recently the beneficiary of a targeted governmental bailout, so we’ve got quite a bit of cheddar to throw around.)
And that’s where – con permiso, certamente: gracias!
– Pat and I and the rest of the Damage Control team come in: on the what-you-should-do-now
But what we
should probably do now, and without further ado, is introduce ourselves.
I, David Eddie, am CEO (Chief Error-rectification Ombudsperson), and Pat Lynch is COE (Chief Operating Editor), of Damage Control International, a vast, intercontinental aggregation of ameliorization artisans, smooth-over specialists, and turnaround technicians headquartered in a fortified underground bunker located somewhere deep in the Ozark Mountains.
Travelling by company helicopter (black, with Damage Control’s logo tastefully emblazoned in gold letters on the door), and landing on a secret helipad, I, David Eddie, divide my time between the bunker and my fabulous mansion in downtown Toronto, where I am most likely to be found either (1) in conversational intercourse and spiritual communion with my wife, Pam; (2) tousling the hair of, or playing catch, or Frisbee, with, one of my three male offspring, saying stuff like “Attaboy!” or “Nice throw, kiddo!” or “You’re really improving!”; (3) engaged in the neverending, disgusting, Sisyphean task of walking my dog, Murphy, around and around the park across the street; watching him squat, knees trembling, a faraway look on his shaggy mug; then picking up his stinking, still-steaming “offerings” with a plastic bag from my pocket. . . .
And, sometimes, all of the above, all in the same afternoon.
Pat, meanwhile, is still single, still “out there,” which, if memory serves, means saying “Dude!” a lot while “highfiving” his “bros”; drinking shots of Jägermeister in loud, crowded, crepuscular bars; grabbing some “dinner” on the fly by sticking a quarter* in a peanut-dispensing machine at the pool hall and twirling the knobs; holding up lighters at concerts;† jumping off the speakers and onto the heads of the terrified-looking crowd;** all the while keeping an eye peeled for the twitching, elusive miniskirt of Ms. Right as it disappears around the corner of the various lofts, watering holes, and brunch spots of the city. . . .
And, sometimes, all of the above, all in a single evening.
Lynch and I have been working together for some time now, just a couple of cogs in the advice-dispensing machine known as Damage Control.
(* I may be dating myself here. It’s probably more than a quarter, at this point.
† Oh, wait, I read somewhere recently they don’t do that any more: it’s illegal because it’s a fire hazard – so they hold up their cellphones
now, which is so sick and wrong, for so many reasons, I don’t even want to talk about it.
** Well, they always looked terrified when I did it in my long-ago twenties: of course, it could be because I’m 6-foot-5 and weigh 240 pounds.)
As The Dogfather™ aka “Dapper” Derek Finkle mentioned in his excellent Preface (thanks, Dog!), we honed our chops and made our bones cranking out advice for the late, lamented men’s magazine Toro
, which, unfortunately, floated belly-up to the top of the tank after four years (it was an intelligent men’s magazine
: perhaps in that single, almost oxymoronic phrase one can begin to detect the seeds of its eventual demise); then, more latterly, we’ve been disgorging our advice-nuts for Canada’s blue-chip national daily newspaper, The Globe and Mail
We work well together, I think.
My tendency, as you are perhaps slowly becoming aware, is to weave elaborate word-tapestries to enchant the eyeballs and dazzle the cerebellum.
Whereas Lynch’s inclination is to say, “Get to the point, you pomo Soho boho mofo.”
Lynch is at the centre of a stern, gruff, often silent, but always deadly, cadre of manly men and guy’s guys – guys who would have no time for word-tapestries, and if someone were to attempt to weave a word-tapestry in their presence they’d tell that person to shut up: “We’re listening to Sabbath on vinyl!”
The yin-yang action inherent in our interpersonal and inter-professional dynamic results in a good look for both of us, I think. In fact, it is no less than my belief that over the years Lynch and I have achieved some sort of Vulcan mindmeld, and our two individual melons have fused into a single Supermelon™, capable of generating advice that is enchanting, bedazzling, and to the point, all at once; and all at record speeds.
At the same time, a crack crew of crisis-management consultants and extrication experts has accrued around us, coral-reef-style, over the years. As The Dogfather mentionedin the Preface, whenever a particular question fallsoutside the comfort zone of our skill set, we reach for the phone and contact various experts, each outstanding in his/her field.
And if a particular expert whom we have contacted appears to us to be imbued with not only genuine expertise but also what used to be known as “good old-fashioned horse sense,” we invite him or her to join our team (on a strictly pro bono basis, natch) to consult on all future questions falling within his/her purview/bailiwick and enter his/her name into our electronic Rolodex.*
Currently, Team Damage Control – or, as we call it in warmer moments,† “the Damage Control family” – includes not one but three different types of lawyer (civil, criminal, family); several marital and financial counsellors; a number of authors; journalists and columnists; a ceo; several vps; a small-business man; two brand-management specialists; a publicist. . . . Name a knowledge-worker type of profession, basically, and chances are we have one on our (pro bono) payroll.
We have one woman who seriously makes a living as an “ethical counsellor.”** We even have a nudist – oops, we mean “naturist” – on the team: Stéphane Deschênes of the Federation of Canadian Naturists.
(* Well, I say “electronic Rolodex,” but that’s a bit of a canard, a nerveagent powder I blow in your eyes to make myself seem more techno-savvy. In fact, I use an old-fashioned Rolodex, into which I painstakingly enter all names, addresses, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, cellphone numbers, pager numbers, and so forth, with an antiquated artifact known as a “pencil.”
† E.g. in the hours right after I send out a company-wide memo saying corporate profits are up and everyone’s getting an extra-special Christmas bonus this year.
** We first met her because her office is in the same building as a friend of ours, a graphic designer. She charges people $60 an hour to tell them what she thinks is the right thing to do in any given situation. We should probably mention here, right from the jump, that we
will not always necessarily advise you to do the “right” – aka the high-road, Angelina Jolie-esque, “noble” – thing. We want you to be good/moral/etc. But we also don’t want you to be a sucker, or a chump, or a doormat, either.)
He’s outstanding nude
in his field.*
Along with Team Damage Control,† I, David Eddie, have assembled, over the years, an inner circle of wise, village-elder-type friends and associates whom I refer to simply as The Panel.
I consult The Panel on most things, both personal and professional. I’m a big believer in the power of advice** to help clarify matters for us poor, confused humans down here on earth, to help steer us on the right course.
And I need it as much as anyone. Thus it is that, though I dish it out by the wheelbarrow-load, I am a net consumer of advice.
(* We originally contacted him when we got a question from a couple who were worried that a friend-couple of theirs was avoiding them because they’d secretly become nudists – a question included in the “social whirl” chapter.
† Team Damage Control is not to be confused with Team Dave Eddie, though there is some overlap: Pam, for example, is a leading consultant on the former, and Chairperson of the latter.
** I’d be in the wrong business if I wasn’t, wouldn’t I?)
But I do not always abide by the rulings of The Panel. In these cases you, gentle reader (“and still gentler purchaser,” as Byron would say), get two points of view for the low, low price of one.
I believe in advice. But I also believe in the truth of the old Yiddish saying “Seek advice from many but in the end follow your own counsel.”
Same goes for you, dear reader. Listen to our advice. Take it seriously. But follow it only if it accords with what the “little man” or “little woman” inside you has to say.
Your inner voice* knows all.
(* You know the one we mean. We mean the one that says, when you’re not quite sure about something: “You should probably double back and deal with that.” Not
, repeat not
, the one that says, “Nah, don’t worry about it, it’ll probably be fine.”)From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Damage Control by David Eddie. Copyright © 2010 by David Eddie with Pat Lynch. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.