By tennis Emmet
If you put a gun to my head, I will watch soccer. I made the mistake of watching the U. S. “lose” to Ghana the other day. I must admit I love the pageantry at the start of the game with the march to the “pitch” and the crowd singing the national anthem. But the game is much too long with too few goals and two many fake falls and injuries, seeking penalties.
But no Wimbledon.
It’s not that the game is any more boring than soccer, or any longer. It’s the ghost of Chuck McKinley.
Many years ago, when I was still cute, we had a five-week break from classes and work at Northeastern University. We would take any job we could find to fill the void and raise a few dollars. The worst of these was as a half-baked accountant at a Firestone store next to the Cambridge projects. (Oh, yes there are.) My job was to chase the customers who had fallen for the high pressure sales pitch for (unneeded) new tires and brake jobs. (Imagine me chasing people for unpaid bills!)
But I digress.
One of the more interesting jobs was working for the Wackenhut (honest to God) Corporation. If you can believe it, I got a uniform and badge, even a hat and worked as a security guard. They said I could carry a gun if I wanted to, for minimum wage. I decided that carrying a gun would make it more likely that any criminal I met would feel compelled to have a gun, too. No thanks.
The uniform looked exactly like that of the Registry police, a feared organization. If I wore a hat while driving, people would slow down and refuse to pass. In Massachusetts that is a rare thing, indeed.
But, I digress, once again.
The best assignment I ever got was for the tennis championships at the Longwood Cricket Club in posh Chestnut Hill, Mass. I wandered around, looking for miscreants among the teenage female tennis players. I found none, but I kept looking. There was free iced coffee and sandwiches. Nice job
Then came the day that the front door guard was sick, probably from all those free sandwiches. I was placed at the front door to check credentials. My orders were and I quote, “ No one gets through this door without a pass. No one.”
You know what a little power does. Goes right to your head. I hassled everyone and anyone. No one got by my post. I was the sentry at the White House. I was the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was the man.
A Yellow Cab pulled up and a blond guy got his suitcases and tennis rackets out of the truck. He walked towards the front door, my door. “Pass, please.” I said ready to die before this interloper gained entrance. “I’m Chuck McKinley,” he said. Honest to God, I said “I don’t care who you are, you don’t get in without a pass.” And I meant it. The confrontation lasted precious moments, until the manager who gave me the “shall not pass” order ran through the door to hug Chuck McKinley who had just returned from his victory at Wimbledon. I bow to no man (or woman) in my sports knowledge. But I didn’t know Chuck McKinley from Mt. McKinley. Who watches Wimbledon?
“Chuck!” she said in adoring tones while ushering our boy Chuck through the front door and giving me the evil eye. Needless to say, I was removed from front door duty for being a uniformed idiot. I was assigned to the back lot for the rest of that day. Although the tennis matches continued for the week, I was reassigned to all-night duty at a dreary warehouse in Watertown. No free iced coffee and sandwiches. No tennis girls.
Another career shot to hell. I was just following orders. It didn’t take long for me to turn in my uniform, hat and badge. To this day, I can’t watch Wimbledon.
Maybe a little soccer. But no Wimbledon. Chuck McKinley scarred me for life.
(good think I didn’t have a gun.)