It’s hard to believe; but before I became a less than obscure author and the founder of a marginally profitable financial planning firm, I lived the glorious life of a tire store manager. That’s right. It’s a good thing I prepared well for a life after my time in the spotlight, achieving my life goals in my early twenties could have led to a life of excess. Oh wait… it did. Anyway, I could sell you some radial tires and get you to balance them on these new fangled computer balancers and sell you a new valve stem for a dollar. In fact, in a moment of iron sharpening iron, I once sold a pair of Armstrong Norseman Snow Tires, size L78-15, with wheels, to Benny Goodman, the King of Swing. Two greats in their respective fields came together to do a snow tire deal that most people never saw coming. I was a God.
It’s time to take you behind the music, selling tires isn’t all glamour, sure you get to put studs in snow tires: there is a dark side, and I have a confession to make. I’m not proud of this one, but I feel like I owe it to you to disclose this: maybe it will help you someday. I once ate the same exact lunch every work day for a year. By workdays, I mean 6 days a week, we were closed on Sundays. So was the deli that got me hooked on Corned Beef with melted Swiss and mustard; it all started innocently enough one St. Patrick’s Day (Maybe 1977?) when I called in lunch for me and my backup band… err, the guys who changed tires. The owner of the deli told me about his special that day and there I was, on a road to addiction. The next day I had another one of those delicious sandwiches, and the next day… And after a week, it was a thing. It was decided that I would have one every day until the next St. Patrick’s day… and I did. No roast beef on a wick, no pizza, no Burger King. It was ugly. I stuck to the plan, it got so I didn’t even have to order from the deli, my enablers/ dealers got it ready for me every day: and the first one wasn’t even free.
The details aren’t pretty, as you might expect. I’m not proud of this period, I’m a vegetarian now, I know better than to let the temptation of corned beef in my life. The thing they don’t tell you is how good the combination of corned beef, melted Swiss and mustard are and if you have even a slightly obsessive personality you better avoid the seduction of Irish cold cuts. I only recently told my wife about this incident, thinking she would be somehow impressed (I quickly learned that after thirty years there are no good surprises left), and she gave me that look that says, “My mother was right, I shouldn’t have married you…” As much as you’d think that I might be used to that look, it is still disturbing, I mean I know I am a little odd but this one was out of my control: I’d set a goal, no matter how arbitrary, un-meaningful, or inconsequential, I was committed, and BY God, I saw this one all the way through.
Today, when my 4 children show signs of peculiarity (and they all do), I nod with no lack of empathy, I get you kids, I really do. And I’m sorry about passing that gene on to you. Being odd is considered a sign of genius in some societies. Let’s go with that.