Thursday, July 18, 2013
Stream of (Total) Consciousness: 7/18/13
Getting up at 4:50 a.m. sucks. Getting up at 4:50 a.m. for absolutely no reason? Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld's Nana trying to conduct urgent business at Chemical Bank, that’s just downright unconscionable—but that's what I had to endure this morning.
As I laid out in excruciating detail last night, I had to wake up before dawn today in order to be at the course for a 7:10 a.m. tee time. And after six unsatisfactory hours of tossing and turning and checking my bedside clock, I was up and at 'em and in the caddy shack a little after 6 a.m.
I’ve begun to develop a routine for the (far too few) days when I have an actual assignment. I check in; I fill up my water bottle; I thoroughly apply sunscreen; I check Twitter and Facebook on my phone because I have nobody to talk to. It’s great. When I get the 10-minute call to board the shuttle, I make a quick pit stop (largely because I’ve been drinking my water bottle in an effort to appear busy), which takes about three times longer than it should, due to the fact that I still haven’t figured out how to locate my fly without having my coveralls come in contact with anything around me that should only come in contact with Clorox.
After exiting the restroom unscathed this morning, I thankfully got on the correct bus that was going to the correct course. Because it was the same group of caddies (caddying for the same group of players) from yesterday, I was actually part of the small talk on the ride to the course for the first time since I’ve been here. This was progress.
The first sign of trouble, though, came once we got dropped off, and I noticed that the golf bag I carried yesterday was nowhere to be found among the rest of the group’s bags, which were all organized and staged, ready for their arriving players.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. The first sign of trouble came yesterday during the afternoon 18. The guy I was caddying for, a friend of Matt Ginella’s, couldn’t have been nicer, but he was playing for the first time in about a year, and it appeared his body was experiencing the same physical punishment that mine had nearly crumbled beneath during caddy training. Not even the four Advil and Bloody Mary he had consumed earlier in the day had provided any relief. Had the ninth hole of the course we were on gone back to the clubhouse, he most likely would’ve opted for additional Advil and Bloody Marys instead of nine more holes of golf. It didn’t, and thus, he gamely gutted out the rest of the round as best he could.
So I knew today’s early tee time could be a problem. I questioned my own ability to get up that early, so I can only imagine what he felt about his. But nobody in Caddy Services said anything to me, and when I double-checked the online system both last night and this morning, the round was still showing on my schedule.
Now, I was at the course, though, working on my third hour of consciousness, and I was starting to worry. The golfer wasn’t here. His bag wasn’t here. This wasn’t looking good. And sure enough, once Matt arrived and saw me standing there, he confirmed to me what I already knew:
My guy was still in bed—which is where I should’ve been.
Matt immediately apologized and explained that they’d notified the resort of the change, but for whatever reason, nobody at the resort had remembered to notify me. This, unfortunately, speaks to an ongoing trend and underlying theme of my experience out here thus far. Caddies are, in the truest sense, independent contractors, and you really are forced to fend for yourself in every way. Like most operations, the structure and organization the public sees isn’t quite as apparent behind the scenes, and if you don’t know what to look for, it’s easy to get lost. I don’t think for a second that this is done on purpose or with sinister intentions. It’s just a “keep up or get left behind” environment, and my guess is that, because the overwhelming majority of the caddy workforce has been around for so long, the resort isn’t wired for handholding; they’re accustomed to low-maintenance caddies who show up, do their job, and don’t ask any questions.
But as the new guy who’s still learning, who’s still trying to adjust to long sleeves in July and the absurdity of the Pacific time zone (the British Open came on at 1 a.m. this morning…1 a.m.!), this do-it-yourself dynamic can be more than a little unsettling. I can count on one hand the times that somebody has volunteered information on how something works or what happens next or what I need to do when. Nobody’s ever pulled me aside and walked me through everything step by step; I’ve always had to be the one to ask, and I always feel like an idiot for not already knowing the answer. And when things start moving quickly, and everyone around you appears to have everything figured out, it only makes you feel that much more alone and that much more out of place.
In hindsight, there are worse things that could’ve happened than not having to caddy at 7:10 a.m. It was like getting out of work early, and it allowed me the chance to rest up, to take off my coveralls and put my head back on my pillow. And because the British Open coverage was in full swing, I had the perfect background music to which I could fall asleep.
But before I could live out that mid-morning delight, I first had to get back home. Once it was certain that I was no longer needed at the course, I asked the pro shop to call a shuttle to come pick me up and take me back to the caddy shack. Sitting out front, I waited and waited, but no shuttle came. Finally, after about 10 or 15 minutes, one mercifully pulled into the parking lot. And before I could even take my seat, I noticed that the driver had this sheepish, apologetic look on her face—a look that confirmed what I already knew:
She’d forgotten me.
- "It's not a lie, if you believe it." Those were the words of one of my generation's great sages, George Costanza, and the more of life I experience, the truer they ring. And while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, the search for my own personal "truths" is never-ending. Care to come along for the ride?