Monday, January 29, 2007

Last Dance With Mary Jane

I don’t normally make posts about my personal thoughts on employment or really any life happenings besides outdoor activities. This one warrants it as it is bike related.

Grab a mug of your favorite beverage and settle in, this is a long one.

Let me set the scene.

Two weeks ago my truck took a rock to the windshield. I have yet to call the insurance company to take advantage of the SC law that states I can have the windshield replaced without meeting my deductible. I have taken advantage of that law 5 times with my truck.

The only bike shop that I have ever purchased a bike in and truly believe in has had some very qualified employees leave as of late. This opened up some bicycle job opportunities in Columbia South Carolina. Being personal friends with the owner for quite some time, I have the inside scoop.

On the way to ride Lynch’s on Saturday, Joe and I spoke of this opportunity.

Driving into work at 78.7mph on the highway this afternoon I slid into deep thought.

I could call Paul and ask him to interview me for the position. I could leave my corporate job and pursue a job that I am passionate about. Really put some feeling into my work and have something to show for it. Sure I would be headed back to the town that I have ill feelings for but that doesn’t matter does it. . .

I slip deeper into thought as I remind myself that one winter a not so long time ago, I had this same type of opportunity and ran with it.

During my High School and some college days, I was a passionate golfer. It stemmed from my father showing me the game when I was very young. By the time I was 10 or 11, I was losing every junior tournament in Evansville Indiana. By losing, I mean I was last, dead last EVERY TIME.

I didn’t care. I just waited for that one moment every round, where I would hit the ball so clean that I wouldn’t even feel it come off the club face. That was bliss and I begged for more. I practiced so much that a local pro took me under his wing and taught me the game for free.

By the time I graduated High School, I had become a golfer to recon with in my town. I had won many tournaments. I placed 11th in our city’s tournament and even had one partial scholarship offer from a local college. I didn’t take it as it was not a school I was interested in.

After one year of college, I gained employment for the summer at Victoria National Golf Club as a caddy. You know, in Bill Murray’s words I was “a Loopa’”.

This led into an offer to be a caddy at Augusta National, one of the greatest golf clubs in the world. After much instigation and a final plea from the pro who helped me in High School, my father allowed me to take the job with the promise that I would return to school after one semester. I was elated. Every golfer’s dream is to touch this golf course. More or less actually get to play it and I would have my chance.

It was everything I imagined it would be and more. I met some of the World’s most powerful and influential people. I also met some real crack heads.

After walking on the course for over 90 days straight, and carrying bags over 900 miles, I had determined one thing from my experience. Every job is exactly that after a while. I was to return to school.

A rock flies up and hits the windshield and I realize I am listening to Tom Petty’s “Last Dance With Mary Jane.” I sure am glad I didn’t replace it yet as the rock left another spider mark in my windshield.

Why is that song so important? It contains the lyrics that I played over and over in my head when I lived in Columbia:

“Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the paaaiiiinnnnnnnnn. I feel Summer creepin’ in and I’m tired of this town agaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiinnnnnn.”

While growing up in Indiana, I promised myself that I would live somewhere that suited my geographical need to be close to the mountains. I was taught how to ski before I was taught how to golf and skiing is by far my number one passion. Mountain Biking fits the bill perfectly now.

I moved to Greenville because this town fits me perfectly. I am gainfully employed. I get way more vacation than I should. I am able to maximize my time on the bike and in the mountains because of this.

As much as I hate to admit it, my passion is actually being outside in the mountains more so than riding a bike. If I am hiking cool. If I am mountain biking, even better however, if I am skiing you better get ready for an excited Tomato. Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

As all this evaluating goes on, I come up over the hill on 385 and I see the mountains in the distance. That is where I belong.

I only put this into words to remind you and me that we have to weigh our options carefully when making life-changing decisions. Will working in a bike shop maximize my time in the woods and on my bike? Probably not, but if the shop was in Greenville it would make my decision much more difficult.

If you are in Columbia and a qualified candidate, drop me a line or go into the shop and let Paul know you are interested. It could be your life-changing moment.



Anonymous said...

Interesting...Very Interesting

Anonymous said...

JWL- I know for sure that when you started golfing you didn't get dead last! Because I was always worse than you:-)


ExtrmTao said...


Yes, but you didn't play in those crappy Wesselman's par 3 tournaments like I played in. I was always freakin' last in those. Trust me, I even remember the little kid they used to "interview" that won all of them. Now if I only remembered his name 8-)