Today, this week and really… all month, I’ve been angry. No, actually, I’ve been pissed off. I usually have what I have come to call “Red October”, where at some point I have a meltdown of some sort of a series of Chernobyl like events that last until about Christmas.
Last week, I had a conversation with TurfNet’s Maestro (that’s Herr McCormick to you…) about the plusses and minuses of blogging a little more from my heart and soul and getting my daily experience into words. Great. So here you go. I’m going to cut loose a bit and actually, as upset as I am today, I really don’t care if you get pissed off too. In fact, maybe if you get a little mad, you might just help yourself. Because it’s clear, for a good number of people reading this, I can’t help them. And that just pisses me off. Because every last one of them could use a little help. We all can.
What am I on about? It’s pretty simple actually. As an agronomist, I am sick to death of offering up advice that could change people’s turf, careers and even lives and having it be ignored or worse yet, being treated like an outsider because I don’t grow grass. I did once, but I guess that doesn’t count. And I’m asking myself, why? Why do people actually care so little?Sound a little arrogant? Maybe. But there’s got to be a point where people start to use their coconuts. Let me paint a picture for you:
Friday afternoon in early summer, late friday afternoon, I get a call. The sky is falling for Superintendent A. His world is going to be over. Armageddon is upon him and if I don’t get to his course right away, he might just spill his own blood in a sand bin. To him, it’s that bad. So I go. Cancel everything. Disappoint everyone (nothing new in my life for the sake of turfheads) and get there.
It’s not over for Super A, but he’s jacked some things up. Badly. And what I want to say is, “How can you be this stupid?”. I don’t say that. There’s no reason to handle it that way and it’s not my style.
I listen, try to speak positive words and to offer encouragement. And I’m blunt about a couple things I see that must change. By the end of our time together, Super A feels better. I’m declared “the greatest”. And I’ve done 2000 miles this week and I’m exhausted. He asks me when I can write a report and so, because I’m getting older and subject to memory loss, I stay up most of the night working on his stuff and get some good ideas going and talk about why he could be doing Turfgrass 101 and winning instead of worrying about the wrong things and pretty much crashing the plane. The report goes out. It’s technical. It’s not hard stuff, it’s simple.
I stay up most of the night working on his stuff and get some good ideas going and talk about why he could be doing Turfgrass 101 and winning instead of worrying about the wrong things and pretty much crashing the plane…
And what do I hear? Crickets. Nothing. All damn summer, nothing. Not a word. My phone calls, not returned. Ok, things must be good. But they aren’t. I hear through the “grapevine” that Super A is calling everyone. The USGA is out, local supers are out, everyone says, they are “Helping Out”. Not me. But I come to understand that really no one’s advice is taken. He’s doing it on his own. Super A calls me last week, declares his current job a place where he can never win and wants me to help him find a job because I have “contacts”. Have I heard of anything? Buddy, you don’t want to know what I decided not to say. Seriously? Contacts?
Let’s move on to Super B. Super B is better than me. He knows it and thinks I should know it too, or does he? He doesn’t miss an opportunity to bitch about me behind my back (it’s a small small world, sir), he doesn’t do any business with the company I work for, having declared us the evil empire. But when he sees me, I’m like an old lost friend. Warm words, nice handshake, “How’s it going?” and all the rest. And I get a glimmer of hope. Perhaps maybe I’m wrong about B. Maybe he’s actually a nice guy. Return my calls? Never. Tell everyone how much I don’t know? Always. Say it to my face? Never.
Superintendent C is someone I’ve known forever. Always a friend. Always a good person. When he was a young assistant, he cornered me for drinks and meals when I was on the road and asked me endless questions about my world and because I was lonely, I guess, I answered, gladly. As he moved up the career ladder, my number, always handy and used often. Sure, we did “business” together, but it was always more than that. And when the Peter Principle came into play and Super C got in over his head, no problem. I was there to teach, work the angles, take arrows, research answers and provide (which I gladly did) career counsel.
And when the Peter Principle came into play and Super C got in over his head, no problem. I was there to teach, work the angles, take arrows, research answers and provide (which I gladly did) career counsel…”
But you see, that was 15 years ago when we met. We aren’t so young now and my ideas? Well they must be old like me. And just like the old draft horse, I was put out to pasture. Oh, but there’s no problem “inviting” me to lunch and declaring my company credit card the thing to use. Use. The keyword. And when in trouble…call your old friend Dave. He might have an idea. Really?
Look, I don’t ever (and I mean ever) think I have all the answers. I’ve been wrong plenty. And certainly, I’m not perfect in any way. It happens when you are brave enough to stick your neck out. But I’m growing tired of situations like those above and I’m just idealistic enough to speak up about it, so that it might change. Even a little.