Once upon a time I had what seemed to be a promising career in the professional sports industry. Without providing too much detail, at age 24 I applied for a job that I was entirely unqualified for, and ended up getting hired on account of impressing one guy at the interview. That guy was the boss, so he made sure I got the job and after moving my young family of three (at the time) all the way across the country, I set out to prove exactly how unqualified I actually was for the role.
I was working a very travel-heavy wholesale account job when my first son was born in the summer of 2011. My job was to travel to all of our independent retailers in x-number of states and restock their displays, open new dealers, etc and so on.. I didn’t hate the job. The travel got a little old after a while but I got to hang out in music shops all day and talk about drumming which is something that I did for 20ish years of my life.
Unfortunately for me and my young family, the job didn’t pay very well. I was working a part-time security gig on the weekends and basically never had a day off. I would travel from Monday through Friday, come home and get ready to be at my other job at 7am on Saturday morning. I’m not complaining, I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to earn a little extra money at the time… I just wasn’t thriving as a dad/husband/human being under the seven day a week with extensive travel life model.
As such, I decided to get serious about my career. I thought “hey maybe working in sports could be cool” and started applying to any and all sports sales jobs I could find. Most of them were inside sales roles where you crank out 200 cold calls a day for less money than I was making at my wholesale gig, but it felt like a start to a career. Ironically, the only callback that I received was for the one job that actually required some previous sports sales experience. It was the big time. After the recruiter convinced me to fly out for the interview, I booked my flight on travel points and borrowed $100 from my brother to go buy a suit at Macy’s. I didn’t know jack shit about suits or tailoring or ties or whatever but I didn’t have much to lose so I decided to just do my best.
There is plenty more to this story but the punchline is that I got the job in my $100 suit and a few weeks later loaded myself, my wife, our 4 month old baby and our very large labrador into a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta and set out for the west coast. A real modern-day Grapes of Wrath.
When I arrived at the job it didn’t take me long to realize that I was very out of my league. The first guy that I met told a story about cold calling Donald Trump’s office and selling him his seats in the new Yankee Stadium. I had just come from selling tambourines to mom and pop music stores. I had nothing to lose, except I kind of had everything to lose because I spent the first 6 months on the job failing miserably. By the time I finally figured it out and started performing well, I made some silly choices that again almost put me on the chopping block. Long story short, I learned a lot about life and work and sales and left the job on my own terms with my head held high.
That is a very long buildup to the point of this story, but I paid for this web domain so you’ll survive. I found myself at the Super Bowl in New Orleans in February of 2013. As a contractor for one of the teams, I got to experience the full perks of working in professional sports. This is the kind of thing that I had dreamed about when deciding to make a career change and I couldn’t believe that I got to experience it. Wild times.
After the Super Bowl it is customary for each team to host a party. The intent is for it to be a celebration of victory, though that’s not the case for at least 50% of the teams involved in the big game. Am I even allowed to use the words “Super Bowl” or should I plan to eventually get sued for that too?
When I arrived at the party, I was already having a weird night. I had had a few $14 beers at the game, then walked several blocks to the party where the talent was a secret. It ended up being a great party with pretty amazing live talent and a handful of recognizable faces in attendance. One of these was my dude Guy Fieri. My guy, if you will. I don’t want to say too much about Mr. Fieri’s stage of inebriation by the time I found him, again I don’t care to get sued over the unexplainable desire to put words on the internet, but let’s just say that he was enjoying the party as we all were.
I have always made it a point not to bother famous people, but Guy is different. He’s a legend, an anomaly, as beloved as he is maligned for reasons that nobody really seems to understand. Do people dislike him because he bleaches his goatee and wears his sunglasses on the back of his head? Do people like him because he is the self proclaimed mayor of flavor town? This is a guy that was feeding 5,000 people per day in the wake of the California wildfires of late 2017. The only reason people can seem to find to dislike the guy is that he says “the bomb dot com” when eating breakfast burritos on his very excellent television program about small restaurants.
I broke my own rules and asked Mr. Fieri for a photograph. He kindly obliged. I admittedly did it to have a souvenir that my friends could laugh about on instagram, but after he enthusiastically posed with me I felt a little guilty for my mindset. The dude was just enjoying himself at the party like everyone else and some shitfaced kid thought it would be funny to get a photo with him, all the while underestimating who the guy (The Guy) actually was and what he was about. Since that day my ironic respect for Guy has turned into non-ironic respect, and I try to eat at his gimmicky restaurants any time I come across one. He truly is the-bomb-dot-com ™ .
I have spent years and years of my life searching for the kind of comfort-with-self that the aforementioned chef seems to possess. Completely himself, cashing checks and giving back where he can. I obviously don’t know how he actually feels about himself, but it’s hard to imagine that he struggles much with self-doubt about his role in the world. I, on the other hand, feel insecure about maybe 60% of the decisions I make on a daily basis. I started writing as a way to cope with anxiety but here I am unashamedly talking about a guy who says stuff like “That puts the shama lama in ding dong” as a beacon of self-respect. Life’s weird, maybe tomorrow I’ll go back to thinking about existentialism and how most people don’t really understand what a nihilist is, but for now, this is what we’ve got. Thanks for making it this far, if you did.