Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Carters

I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience when I woke up this morning.  The pain was there, sure, but my brain felt detached from it.  It was like I was observing my own pain and then saying, “Wow, that must hurt like hell.”

I stopped to pick up some Aleve and yogurt on my way in this morning.  I seem to be falling back into my old routine—I could never seem to eat very much for breakfast when I was caddying, and Aleve would always make me cry tears of happiness. 

The owner of the golf club is getting married later this afternoon, and so the parking lot I normally use was unavailable—they needed all the space they could get for valet.  When TP tried to explain where I COULD park today, his explanation went something like this: “As soon as you come over the train tracks, take a hard left into what looks like nowhere to go.  It’s right next to the 4th green.”

I knew the train tracks he was talking about, and I knew where the 4th green was.  As soon as I came over the tracks this morning, I slowed down and looked for the first possible left.  I saw one possibility about 30 yards ahead of me, but then I heard honking.  TP was directly to my left, signaling for me to turn into…well, nothing.  When I stopped, backed-up the car, and looked at the “parking lot,” I realized that unless TP had honked, I would’ve never found it.  TP’s shuttle van sat right next to the entrance of the narrowest, most secretive parking lot known to man.  The opening provided by the gate was probably only 15 feet wide, and once you pulled up into the lot, you had about 20 feet on either side to work on k-turning or reversing your car in a line down the left side.  Spare construction equipment and materials lay scattered on the ground or in piles everywhere.  It was like we were in the appendix of the trucking / construction site—it was hard to find a use for this space because of its shape and size.  So why not park caddies there?

When I got into the shuttle van, TP was laughing with a couple of the other caddies: “No, dude, you don’t understand.  The maximum capacity for this club is like 120 people.  When that happens, it’s a shit-show.  With this wedding, we’re looking at about 300 people.  So we’re beyond shit-show status today.  I just don’t understand why the owner doesn’t just say: ‘You know what? This is my course, and I’m getting married.  No play today.’  But no.  We have play on top of play on top of play on top of a wedding.”

I took my time signing in, because if the course is really that busy, there’s no rush to assure myself of a loop.  I knew I’d be getting out on the grass quickly.  So after throwing on an extra layer (it was nippy this morning), my jacket, bib, grabbing a cup of coffee and watching Sergio Garcia take a sizable lead at the Castello Masters in Spain, Big Bear came in and said: “Alright Tom, you’re going with Mr. Absent today.  He’s laid back, works on Wall Street, and smokes pot.  I just wanted to make up for all of the tortuous loops I’ve been putting you on.”

Four things: if every professional golf tournament was held in Spain, Sergio Garcia would win constantly.  Is it just me, or is he always right at the top of the leaderboard or winning every event that’s held in Spain? I don’t watch a lot of the European Tour because of the time difference and because the announcers put me to sleep—but I’m pretty sure I’m right about Sergio.  Second, Big Bear relayed a story about playing in an AJGA (I think that was the affiliation) event with Sergio the week before he went to play in the US Amateur back when Sergio was 17 years old.  Big Bear said on the first hole Sergio drilled a 2-iron “dick high” about 270 yards.  “It was a laser.”  I think it’s pretty unbelievable that Big Bear was able to play in a tournament against Sergio.  Big Bear said he shot 76-72, and Sergio fired a 71-74. “At least I beat him on the second day.”

Third, one of the caddies explained the McDonald’s Monopoly game to me.  Apparently, it’s impossible to get all of what you need to win if you keep buying food in the same State.  He said “they” have done “a study” to prove that all of the spaces you need will come from 3 different States.  If this caddie is correct, that means that A) McDonald’s is smarter than I thought, and B) If people can organize flash-mobs, they sure as hell can orchestrate some way of linking people with various Monopoly pieces all over the United States.  The overall prize you split may be much lower, but at least you don’t have to drive all the way to freaking Juno, Alaska to get Boardwalk.

Fourth, the loops so far have been great.  Torturous my ass.

When it was finally time to loop, and the group had completely formed, the only thing that came to my mind was “Carter.”  I say “Carter” because when I used to bartend for a few muckity-mucks, it seemed like they were all named Carter.  The member seemed like a stand-up guy—in fact, he was the regular for one of the caddies in the car accident, and when he heard the story on the first tee, you could tell how concerned he was.  The rest of the group, however, just reminded me of trust-fund babies—Carters.  Even after 18 holes, I still didn’t really get to know them that well, so it’s very possible I’m wrong.  But I felt I had to go with my gut on this one. 

There were two reasons for this belief: there were several occasions when one of my players acted like they were “putting me in my place” because I was a caddie.  They also struck me as the type of guys who never really had to work very hard to get into their current jobs.  Some of the conversations they had made it sound like they were born into connections, and mom or dad just had to pull a few strings to give them the best possible start. 

This may sound harsh, but I really have no interest in getting to know someone—I don’t care how rich they are—who treats certain people differently.  I may have a slight crack addiction, but I play to the same handicap and I don’t force my services upon you—so don’t say things like “let the caddie go get it” after you purposefully smack a ball in anger across the green.  Sure I’ll get your ball for you, but you’re not scoring any points, buddy.

You know, perhaps some of it was my fault for being honest.  When one of the players I was carrying asked me how long I had been working out there, I answered “this is my second week.”  The look of surprise on his face made me add: “But I’ve been a caddie for 3 years.”  I think divulging my inexperience is what made him crack down on me like he did today.  So I guess from now on I should lie a bit—maybe extend that experience out to a couple of months, just to gauge the reaction.

It’s not really like me to let players get to me, but honestly, I felt like I was closed off all day.  I wasn’t looking for long conversations with these guys, but to constantly get the cold shoulder does wear on you after 4+ hours.  I was just glad I had taken my Aleve.

Tomorrow will be better.  I feel like I’m finally starting to get a handle on the course, and my reads are getting more exact.  Or, maybe I shouldn’t jinx myself. 

Take care all.


Kiwi said...

See I couldn't do this for a giving. I have the innate ability to just say what I want too. No intentionally, normally its as if I'm listening to myself talk, while thinking "you can't say that dickhead". I'd get fired the first day.

Tom Collins said...

Yeah, it is hard to bite your tongue in a situation like that. Fortunately for me, this happens so rarely that it's easily forgotten. I'm usually surrounded by great people.