Sports Loyalties

For the first 37 years of my life, I lived in the NY area…Brooklyn for 29 years, then Holbrook, Long Island for 3, then Staten Island for 5 before moving to San Antonio, TX with Citi.

Spent almost 14 years down here before I left Citi & relocated to Scottsbluff, Nebraska to join Lehman Brothers’ mortgage servicing subsidiary, Aurora Loan Services.

(I’d been considering other job offers in Herndon, VA, New Orleans, LA & Frisco, TX, but this opportunity with Lehman seemed to offer me the most autonomy & it simply fed my love for Customer Service.

Wish I had known that the Great Mortgage Crisis of 2008 was right around the corner.)

After that, I moved to St. Petersburg, FL to work for First American (property tax servicing for mortgage banks), who was actually a vendor & strategic partner with us at Aurora.

A couple of years later, after speaking with an old friend & Citi associate of mine, I accepted an offer from Nationwide Financial (subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance) which turned out to be the absolute worst decision of my life…professionally, personally, health-wise, spiritually, emotionally, financially.

Not sure if it was the entire state of Ohio, or the city of Columbus, or just Nationwide, but I have never met such a group of passive-aggressive people in my entire life.

“of or denoting a type of behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials…”

Put more succinctly & bluntly…back stabbers!

Oh, I certainly met so many wonderful, warm people during my almost-5 years there, but the preponderance of these passive-aggressive types, especially in management @ Nationwide, was absolutely scary.

Wouldn’t say anything to your face…nothing helpful, confrontational, truthful, nor constructive…NEVER…but wouldn’t hesitate to talk behind your back, totally dismiss proven/successful business initiatives because it wasn’t “their idea” & stab you whenever they were able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.

Had a “boss” once who told me, “You probably know a helluva lot more than I do” to which I replied, “Yeah, probably so, and I’ve had people like you report to me!”

OK, so it wasn’t the most diplomatic thing to say, but what do you do with someone to whom you sent an e-mail about a wildly-successful program you designed, implemented & managed at 3 other companies with incredible business results, but she never responds?

Even after you send 2 follow-up e-mails?

Who simply refused to even discuss it in person despite multiple requests?

Who cancelled 2 meeting requests to sit down with me, in her office, but who I could clearly see in her office on both occasions?

She once told me something about telephone processes & call-routing, “That’s not how we do it around here!”

FYI, I had been working with & designing telecommunications stuff for 30 years at that point.

“But this has nothing to do with pride of ownership or who knows what. I know FOR A FACT that my way works as I’ve been doing this forever.”

She still refused.

A week later, after her method proved to be totally ineffective & completely pissed off both customers & employees, did I finally get approval to do it my way.

And I had to raise the issue up at a full project meeting by getting the impacted managers themselves to “testify”. And she never said a damned word, other than to try & intimidate me by shooting daggers my way at the meeting.

“Was there something you wanted to say or discuss, Wendy?”, I asked her. “Is there an issue?”

Silence.

Yeah, nothing like having a really supportive boss.

I hope she rots in H…

Never mind.

After being unable to work for 2 years due to my medical condition (believe me when I tell you that I knew nothing about SSA Disability from the government at that time…I thought it was just the extra insurance coverage while employed as part of your benefits package), my daughter, Heather, saves my life by asking me to come back to San Antonio to live with her so she could take care of me.

I returned to beautiful SA on October 2 of 2015, finally got approved for Disability in May 2017 (even though it should have been backdated to Nov 2015, because of my eyes, but never was) & here I am today.

Loved all the people I encountered along the way, except for the aforementioned passive-aggressives in OH, some stubborn-headed leaders at Lehman Brothers in Nebraska (“But this is how we’ve always done it, Mike!” “Yeah, and that’s why your results have always been somewhat mediocre! There’s a whole world out there, if you haven’t noticed, and they tend to do stuff differently & get better results!”) & the occasional a-hole along the way.

Oh, NY had its share of unpleasant, not-nice, not-nearly-as-smart-as-they-thought people, all right, and many were pretty obnoxious, too, but maybe I was just used to it all, growing up there & everything.

Believe it or not, this piece was gonna be about sports & team loyalties.

*takes some Pepto Bismol to address his diarrhea of the mouth*

Back in NY, I was a big Yankees, Jets & Knicks fan. College sports really weren’t big until the days of the Big East basketball conference (St. John’s, Georgetown, Syracuse, Connecticut, etc.). I rooted for St. John’s as my sister, Rosemarie, was an alum.

I hated the NY Rangers (hockey) & quickly attached myself to the Boston Bruins…the ONLY thing about Boston that I can tolerate, including that stupid accent of theirs.

(“But there’s no R in Boston!”

“Well, then, how the hell do they breathe???”)

And no matter where I’ve lived, I always carry these loyalties close to my heart.

(BTW, I tolerate the Mets & the Giants, but will never consider myself a fan of either, even when they were winning championships.)

When I moved to SA in late ‘93, the Spurs were the only professional team in town…and I immediately fell in love with them. They are a first-class organization whose players are great people & members of the community as well as outstanding on the court. And 5 NBA Championships certainly hasn’t hurt any…unlike KawhiNOT’s traitorous behavior!

The 1999 NBA Finals were particularly tough as MY Knicks faced off against MY Spurs. Yeah, I couldn’t lose, but…

When I moved to Scottsbluff, NE, we were located in the far western part of the state, nowhere Lincoln (Univ of Nebraska) or Omaha (College World Series & Warren Buffett).

Professional sports team? Not unless drinking had its own major league team. The town had 1 Chinese restaurant (Wonderful House), 1 movie theatre (at the Monument Mall) & a Walmart.

But being “only” 3 hours from Denver, I got to watch a lot of Colorado Rockies (baseball), Denver Nuggets (basketball) & Denver Broncos (football) games on TV…and actually became fans of those teams as well. Somehow, never was intrigued about the Colorado Avalanche in hockey.

(Oh, and despite the fact that the entire state of Nebraska is absolutely, 100% Cornhusker crazy…Go, Big Red!…I really cant stand that damned football team! Hate the stupid soda, too!)

After Scottsbluff, it was St. Petersburg, FL with the Tampa Bay Rays (Tropicana Field really sucked, but the prices were great, as were the garlic fries, so I got to watch 9 Yankees games, 9 Boston Red Sux games (BOOOO!!!) & about 20 other assorted games every season!) & the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (had season tickets when the Jets, Giants, Patriots, Packers & Cowboys came into town one year).

Went to a couple of Tampa Bay Lightning hockey games when they played my Bruins & a few Orlando Magic basketball games when Dwight Howard was still there…and still good.

My journey into Hell, a.k.a. Columbus, OH, was brightened somewhat as I attended several Columbus Blue Jackets hockey games.

One night, Steve Somen & I sat in front-row seats, right up against the ice, directly behind the goalie. (We purchased them from Nationwide as they sponsored the Blue Jackets & eventually, traded that sponsorship for the new arena being named after them.)

Sitting right behind the goalie was amazing! I kept instinctively flinching & ducking at the oncoming shots (What would happen if they used cheap Plexiglas that night???), but it was a great experience…and so different. Usually, I would sit “upstairs” at hockey games, not wanting to pay the ridiculous prices for lower-bowl seats & to be able to get a totally-different perspective on the game, as you could see the entire play develop from up above & really appreciate the strategy involved with what often seems like a hectic, almost-out-of-control sport.

And being in Columbus, I hadda…by law!!!…become a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes in both football & basketball! I enjoyed watching them on TV as well as going to a few games.

Also got to watch a whole lot of Cleveland Cavalier basketball (as soon as LeBron James returned home from Miami), Cleveland Indians baseball games on cable & Cleveland Browns football on TV. I’d get both the Browns & the Cincinnati Bengals games…and that was pretty depressing & boring.

It’s just pretty natural that, over time, you start rooting for these teams as well.

After coming “back home” to San Antonio in 2015, I still disliked the Dallas Cowboys as much as I did before I left, though I actually do enjoy watching them. And after several season of rather boring, average football, the Houston Texans are finally starting to shine.

Yeah, and I kinda root for the University of Texas Longhorns in football.

So, that’s my story…and even if pressured, will stick to it!

Thank you so much for listening!

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