Monday, March 6, 2017

Fantasy Golf is Back! (Almost): Part 1

So apparently when you decide to call your website the "Fantasy Golf Report," people expect you to occasionally write about fantasy golf or at least periodically mention the word "golf". Well those voices have been heard so this week we're going to write about so much fucking golf that you're going to get driving range blisters on your eyeballs just from reading it. Starting tomorrow, the weekly tournament preview will return loaded with the typical lists of partially researched hunches and picks lifted from other websites. Then later in the week we'll follow-up with an FGR Rankings update as Dustin Johnson's win is going to extend his already sizeable lead. 

Beyond that, I can't promise you anything, especially during the crap weeks before events like the Zurich Classic and the Quicken Loans National. I'm not really big on long term commitment unless it involves friends and family as evidenced by the fact that I once went through a post-college stretch where I had fourteen different jobs in ten years. Let's just say it took some searching to find the right situation to both suit and pay for the FGR lifestyle. (I smell another non-golf tangent in the offing). 

If the following employment history reminds you of your current situation, here is my advice. Don't ever settle for (1) a job that makes you miserable, (2) a majority of coworkers who are d-bags (there will always be a couple) and, most importantly, (3) insufferable bosses. Your mission is to go through jobs like the Cleveland Browns go through quarterbacks until you find the right one . . . hopefully with better results. Here is the ten year long sewer pipe of employment shit I had to crawl through to get to where I am today starting with the summer after college with a few entertaining side anecdotes thrown-in for good measure:   

No Job

Not surprisingly, I graduated from college with no job, no plan and no clue. What was the point? I could live and eat at my parents' house for free, drive the spare car and play golf under my dad's membership as long as they still believed I was a student (milked that one for about five years). This lasted roughly six weeks until my dad woke me up around noon one day and told me he was selling the car. Fuck. Now I had to find a job that paid $200 per month to cover a car payment and insurance. Seemed daunting. This real world shit was going to be quite the hassle.

Public Relations Firm

Can I borrow your fan?
Somehow I managed to find, interview for and land a job with a public relations firm in Georgetown. One problem. I was living in Annapolis which meant to get there I had to either: (a) Penetrate the natural defenses of the District of Columbia by car and then pay $20 per day to park or (b) drive half an hour to the train station so I could take a half hour metro ride to a stop that was a twenty minute walk to the office. Option (b) wasn't all bad unless you consider that I took the job in August which meant that, by the time I got there, I looked like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News.*

I lasted two weeks before the dream died on a Sunday in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. My ride home decided that we needed one more night of Caligula level debauchery so I was going to have to call in sick on Monday morning. This was causing me much angst as I drained beer after beer on Sunday afternoon until someone noted, "yeah I'm sure they're going to be devastated that you can't make it . . . . 'Oh my God, how are we going to get by without what's his name today?'" (Long Island guys will always let you know where you stand . . . my kind of people).  

So after staying out until 4:00 a.m., I didn't wake-up until around 10:00 a.m. and I'm sure I put-off making the call for at least another hour. The tone on the other end of the line made it pretty clear that everyone saw the writing on the wall. As best as I can recall, I went in and quit on Tuesday. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life but, at that point, it certainly didn't involved a commute, a suit and a 9:00 to 5:00 schedule.

(Funny Story: As Friday night of that weekend morphed into Saturday morning, I decided to walk the half mile back to my friend's house which I somehow managed to do. Then it was just a matter of navigating his long gravel driveway and sneaking-in without waking anyone up. No problem there either except that, when I got to the door, his dad was there holding it open for me. It was 9:00 a.m. Think Jordan Belfort's Lamborghini ride).

Waiter - T.G.I.Fridays

Unlike Office Spacehowever, none of
the real 
waitresses looked like this.
This job checked all of the boxes. Lots of cash. Flexible hours. Half-priced appetizers. There were just two problems: (1) Mike Judge absolutely spot-on nailed the cheesiness of T.G.I.Fridays in Office Space and how douchy management is about the rules and (2) I was never cut-out to be a waiter (really?). After my third shift, I honestly didn't know who I wanted to kill more . . . the customers, the managers or the bartenders who acted like prison trustees bossing around the other inmates. This was clearly not the answer.

Fortunately, I had landed another job that would ultimately impact the lives of everyone reading this so I could walk. I still savor the memory of the sound of the manager's voice when I called to tell her. "What do you mean you got another job? Why did you apply for another job?" Deep down she knew why and I knew that she knew why. I got out and she didn't.

(Funny Story: None. I only worked a couple of lunch shifts and I think I maybe waited on five tables).

Retail Sales/Management - Totally Golf

I went to work selling golf clubs, balls, etc. in a small store next to a 7-11. This was a great gig which would explain why I did it for two and half years despite making slightly over minimum wage with no benefits unless you count access to an indoor hitting cage and discounted equipment as "benefits" . . . which I do. I eventually moved-up from sales to store manager which earned me a "raise" to $17,000 a year. More importantly, however, as store manager I got to schedule the employees. This meant that in the summer, I had myself, one of my best friends and a third sucker who we'd leave alone in the afternoon so we could go play a quick eighteen holes (at my dad's course). Then I'd come back in the evening, count the money and lock the door. Remember that this was before cell phones so I would have no idea if something went horribly wrong, like say the owner showed-up. 

In the winter, we'd see about two customers a day which meant we did nothing but hang-out, laugh about stupid shit, beat thousands of balls in the cage, eat pizza from the place next door and watch the same instructional videos over and over again (and Caddyshack which we never thought to turn-off when customers and/or the owner's wife had the nerve to walk-in). We could quote Jack Nicklaus' irritating narration of Golf My Way better than the guys from The Boiler Room could quote Wall Street. I'm sure I was always on the verge of getting fired but screw it. Who else was going to do this gig for that crap salary? 

Not to mention, I could sell the shit out of the high margin crap that to this day keeps golf stores in business. Most people don't realize that you can't make any money off of golf balls or quality equipment. You've got to hope that people buy the shirts and then you need to convince them that a $400 set of irons made by a company they've never heard of like Square D or Power Bilt are just as good as the $600 Pings and Titleists because the profit was in the off brands. To do this, you just needed to know three words/phrases - "cavity-backed", "perimeter-weighted" and "forgiveness." I think we single handedly shut down high-end golf club sales in three zip codes for the better part of two years with our bullshit.

Selling drivers was the most entertaining because people would believe almost anything. We had them convinced that the only difference between a Big Bertha and a Big Mertle was that Callaway jacked-up the price to pay for their advertising budget. Forget the fact that the Big Bertha was arguably one of the most revolutionary clubs ever manufactured. For the same price, you could get a knock-off version of the driver plus the 3-wood, the 5-wood and a hat. Oh the head flew-off the third time you hit it? That happens with every club. Here, let me glue that back on for you.   

I'm telling you dude, everybody
who works here is hitting this
20 yards past the Taylor Made.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. It turns-out that when you pick the location for your golf store, there are certain things you want nearby. Namely, golf courses. I hung around for the liquidation sale which was a really sad affair as it revealed a type of customer that is retail's answer to the people who use police scanners to be the first on the scene at major accidents. The owner hired some creepy old guy from Oklahoma who was straight-out of a Stephen King movie and he showed-up everyday to slash the prices. We started calling him "The Undertaker" but "Crypt Keeper" would have been more appropriate. As it turned-out, we should have been calling me the "Grim Reaper" because I was just getting started on putting sporting goods stores out of business. 

(Funny Story: The other thing we did to pass the time in the winter was to have chipping contests around the store. We took out a few overhead lights and put a few dents in the walls but that was nothing compared to the time when a customer walked-in without us knowing and I hit a punch shots using some golf bags as a backstop just as he came around the corner. Missed his head by a foot. "Sorry buddy, can I interest you in this new driver designed by the guy who invented the particle collider?").    

Retail Manager/Sales - Herman's Sporting Goods

I decided to capitalize on my retail experience by moving-up to a bigtime national chain. It turned out, however, that Herman's was a dead man walking because it was selling everything from footballs to tennis rackets to sleeping bags to jockstraps out of strip mall sized stores as Dick's and Sports Authority were moving-in like the Imperial Cruiser at the beginning of Star Wars. 

But Herman's had a plan. They were going to hire young go getters like myself and then train us to be management/sales machines. The training program took six weeks. Three weeks in the store and three weeks at company headquarters in Cartaret, New Jersey a/k/a Exit 12 on the turnpike. We took classes, had in-store simulations and even went on field trips so we could evaluate and critique the competition. In hindsight, it was as ridiculous as it sounds because we were a bunch of barely motivated dipshits in our mid-twenties and there was a reason that this was the best job that we could get. You knew they were in trouble when the twenty-five year old version of me was the star of their training class.

I lasted about a year in this gig. Fortunately for me, my future wife recognized that she didn't want to be married to a guy who had to work eighty hours per week over the holidays (lawyers have nothing on retail store managers when it comes to long hours). She was getting her masters degree at the time and the law school was right across the street so she walked-in and picked-up an application. (I couldn't even do that for myself). I filled it out, did well enough on the LSATs to compensate for my mediocre grades and managed to get in. Hallefreakin'lujah.

The Herman's story doesn't quite end there as they let me stay-on as a sales guy during my first year of school. I guess they wanted to get something out of that management training investment so I hung-around selling shoes to keep a little change in my pocket. The company limped along for a couple more years before shutting-down for good in 1996. I was long gone by then but my legacy of sporting goods store killer was already solidified. Now it was time to see if I could start fucking-up some law firms. 

(Funny Story: One summer night I had the crew from the store over to get hammered and we kept it rolling until dawn because why not? When we showed-up at the store for a meeting later that morning, we learned that we had to deliver and assemble a treadmill because the head manager dickhead Andy had promised the customer we'd have it there in twenty-four hours. We were drunk, it was hot and we had no idea what we were doing. Suffice it to say that we left the house with a bag of unused parts and screws that may or may not have been critical to the machine's functionality and safety).

This feels like a good place to take a break. See you tomorrow for some golf talk and we'll revisit this in Part 2 next week.      

Footnote

* I really need a new go to for sweaty references besides Broadcast News and Cool Hand Luke. Open to suggestions. 

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