I’ve had 5 opportunities in my life to get really rich…but I blew ‘em all!
The first occurred around 1997 or so when I went golfing one morning at the Cedar Creek Municipal course here in San Antonio with my good buddy, Steve Somen.
Our families were planning to spend the day at the nearby (and truly magnificent) Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort that we often frequented.
Our wives & kids would meet us there later after we completed our round.
We decided to minimize any possible questions or interrogation & get our butts over to the Hyatt Regency as soon as possible…after we finished.
So we headed out to our “home course”, Cedar Creek, and arrived well before sunrise.
We asked in the clubhouse, since we didn’t have a reserved tee time, if we could just head out before the regularly-scheduled groups hit the course. And being that it was just the two of us, we would be moving along fairly quickly compared to the foursomes (group of 4 golfers) behind us.
They’ll never see us nor know we were ever there.
The guy behind the counter relented & agreed to let us head out.
We teed off in the dark & moved quickly around the course.
So rapidly, in fact, that we encountered the sprinklers still going off on certain holes.
(Note: The sprinklers for all 18 holes were on a basically set schedule. They “knew” exactly when sunrise would be & therefore, when the first group would be heading out. They also calculated the approximate time when that 1st group would be hitting each hole to ensure that the sprinklers for that hole wouldn’t be going off.)
Each hole varies in length (from ~150 yards to 500+) & shape. There any many different sprinklers, on different timing schedules, for each hole.
We came across our first problem of the day on the 3rd hole. The fairway sprinklers were going off, but finished their job as we started to tee off. The grass was fairly wet, naturally, but it wasn’t a huge inconvenience.
Similar situation on the par-3 7th hole.
We were able to complete the front 9 without a major incident.
On #11, however, the sprinklers were going off full blast.
We called back to the clubhouse to ask them to please turn off the sprinklers on that particular hole. They were able to override the system & the sprinkling subsided in about 30 secs.
We completed that hole & continued on our way.
Everything was fine.
Or so we thought.
When we reached the 17th hole, a beautiful 175-yd par 3 off an elevated tee box, we realized that the sprinklers must have just stopped as soon we came around the bend. The fairway was obviously wet as well as the cart path closest to the tee box.
We didn’t think much of it.
We hit our tee shots, jumped into our cart (yes, ol’ Hot Rod LaRoo was behind the wheel) & we headed down the hill & onto the cart path.
Well, before you know it, the cart path presented a series of quick, sharp turns that must be navigated carefully…and we were coming upon them rather quickly.
Ya see, I parked our cart high on the hill, right next to the tee box.
There may…or may not…have been a hand-written sign at the bottom of the hill that read, “No carts past this point!”
They wanted us to actually walk up the hill…without the perfectly-capable cart in which we were already seated???
Anyway, we come racing down the hill, onto the wet cart path & headed into the S curve!
I immediately slammed on the brakes. Hard!
The wheels lock. The cart goes into a skid. Then it actually starts sliding sideways, with the driver’s side leading the way.
And we’re headed straight into the huge, squared timber that separates the cart path from the fairway like an impenetrable barrier.
The left-front wheel & fender smack right into the log barrier…and that brings the cart to an immediate halt!
And since everyone’s somewhat familiar with the laws of physics, when a speeding object comes to a stop without gradually reducing its speed first, anything & everything inside that is not securely tied/held down, will continue to keep flying in the same direction!
And they, er, we, uh, I did that!
I literally flew out the side of the cart as there are no doors or anything stopping you from doing so, nor any seat belts. I bounced on the very hard cart path a number of times, then rolled down a small ravine onto a pile of rocks.
Right onto my back!
Steve tightly grabbed ahold of the roof of the cart right before impact & wound up hurting his thumb as he was thrown toward the driver’s side.
Meanwhile, I was absolutely & totally convinced that I broke my back!
The front of the cart was pretty demolished. We called the clubhouse & asked them to bring us another cart as the one we had died.
I felt incredible pain as I eventually got to my feet & climbed out of the shallow ravine.
Then, suddenly…miraculously…all the pain subsided. Disappeared completely.
I felt numb. Weird. How could I not be in pain when I was just in total agony not 10 seconds ago?
What the hell!
We picked up our bags off the cart path & walked to the green.
We both parred the hole (made it in the standard 3 shots)! That alone may have been a miracle!
We headed to the 18th, a long, difficult 425 yard par 4 just as the clubhouse attendant arrived, towing a replacement cart & taking our wreck away.
Now, of all the rounds that I’d played at Cedar Creek up until that point, I never, ever parred #18.
This time, I actually parred it. Double miracle.
We returned our replacement cart, headed to our cars & drove home.
I took a shower & cleaned up before heading out to the Hyatt Regency to meet Laurie & Heather…Steve’s family were also there with mine. I didn’t notice or feel anything different.
Oh, well. Just lucky, I guess.
I found everyone at the little kids’ beach by the side of the Rambling River (a long-winding “moat” where hotel guests can either wade or ride tubes while enjoying their refreshments, floating along the way).
After a few minutes, I wanted to go inside to cool off (it was over 100° at that time) so I headed toward a rarely-used door at the very rear corner of the hotel, not more than 150 feet from where everyone was sitting. But you had to go around a corner to reach the door.
Halfway there, I blacked out. Completely.
Next thing I knew, I woke up face first in some mulch, under a small tree. I was in complete pain & it felt as if my body was on fire.
I had trouble breathing. I couldn’t talk, much less, call out for help. I couldn’t get to my feet.
I really felt like I was gonna die right there & then…seriously…probably less than 75 feet from my family & friends! No one apparently saw me & since this was a seldom-used entrance/exit, no people were going in nor out.
It took me about 25 minutes to crawl to that back door!
As soon as I reached it, a hotel employee happened to be in the connecting hallway, saw me, opened the door & helped me up. He wanted to call 9-1-1.
I asked him to just pls bring me to the lobby so I could cool off. He brought me a glass of water & kept asking if I needed medical attention, thinking I was suffering from heat stroke or just had a heart attack.
It took me a good 1/2 hour to fully come to my senses & get that rubbery feeling outta my legs.
I was completely soaked from head to toe.
Of course, I was cross-examined by the prosecuting attorney as well as my own defense counsel when I eventually made it back outside an hour later!
I don’t think anyone believed me!
“We’ve been right here all the time & surely would have seen or heard you!”
I showed them that, from this angle, I would have disappeared from their view as I went around the corner & besides that, I couldn’t speak or stand up or anything.
The following day, my wife took pictures of the back of my body.
From the heel of my foot up to the back of my neck, and every square inch in between, I was completely covered in back & blue.
And some purple & yellow, too!
I looked as it someone actually body-painted me!
I eventually went for a complete set of X-rays as I feared having a blood clot.
No clot, but my doctor (a very dignified, silver-haired woman in her 60s) did comment, “In all the years I’ve been practicing, I have never, ever seen anyone with a worse case of arthritis! You have it absolutely everywhere & it’s as severe a case as I’ve ever seen!
“Boy, are you gonna have some big problems as you get older!”
That was almost 25 years ago & she was absolutely right!
Now had I found myself a nice lawyer (the Cedar Creek course was a “municipal, owned & operated by the city of San Antonio), I could have easily sued the city for negligence. Letting us out on the course while the sprinklers were still going off? Skidding on a wet cart path?
I fully understand that we requested to tee off early, but we were never warned about the potential hazards.
At a minimum, it could’ve been one handsome settlement. And I even would’ve shared some with Steve for his stress & his poor thumb thingie!
But I never did…’cause I’m an idiot!
The second opportunity for me to become a rich man was a couple of years earlier, in September of 1995.
And the circumstances were quite a bit different.
My wife was diagnosed with cancer in June of that year.
She underwent external radiation treatments for the next 2 months.
Then, in September, she would have 2 surgical procedures performed, 2 weeks apart, where a metal rod, containing a radioactive material, would be inserted into her abdomen to kill the tumor.
She would have to lie perfectly still for the 2 days following the procedure as any type of movement could do irreparable damage to any other body part that the radioactive rod touches.
The first operation goes smoothly & I would be allowed to see her when she’s brought back to her room.
“…lie absolutely still for 2 days…”
As I enter her room, Laurie is standing up & walking around!!! 😱
I hit the ceiling!!!
“What the hell are you doin’?!? Babe, the doctor said to lie perfec…”
“I can’t! I’m burning up inside! I’m itching everywhere & just wanna scratch my insides! It can’t take this, baby!”
“PLEASE go & lie down! I’ll call the nurses & see if there’s something they can do! But in the meanwhile, PLEASE lie down! PLEASE!”
I finally got her to return to bed, but she couldn’t, wouldn’t, lie still! She was squirming & moving & trying to get comfortable…but to no avail!
I begged the nurses to give her something to relax. They contacted the doctor & returned with some painkillers & something to help her sleep.
Two weeks later, she was getting ready for the same exact surgical procedure.
But this time, I insisted on being with her until they wheeled her into the operating room.
While I was with her in Pre-Op, one of the nurses came in to do some preparatory stuff to get her ready for the procedure.
All of a sudden, Laurie calls out, “Lemme see that!”
She’s talking to the nurse who’s holding some sort of ointment tube.
Laurie (who was a nurse’s side herself) grabs the tube & looks at it closely.
“Sulfur!!! This has sulfur in it!!!”
Then she holds up her wrist so everyone could see the plastic wristband they put on you at the hospital.
One of them is for any allergies the patient may have.
“See this? I’M ALLERGIC TO SULFUR!!!”
She starts crying. And she’s so furious at the same time.
The nurse was horrified.
“Don’t you guys check this shit?!?”, I said, more than slightly perturbed.
The nurse stood there, white as a sheet.
“But that should have been known when they prepared for the procedure! I’m so sorry! I’ll get a different ointment for you.”
Then, almost simultaneously, we both put 1 & 1 together!
That’s what caused all of Laurie’s issues with the first procedure. She was allergic to the sulfur-based ointment they used.
This procedure, after this revelation, went extremely smoothly, as did the following 2 days. She was able to lie perfectly still without any discomfort, burning or itching.
Little did we know at that time, but the first procedure caused a WHOLE LOT of internal damage to Laurie.
While it may have, indeed, “stunned” the tumor, it also burnt a bunch of her insides as well.
On Christmas morning (~3 months later), she had to have emergency surgery to remove part of her intestine. Apparently, burnt tissue (from the radiation) flaked off & caused a major blockage.
They were able to save her life that Christmas.
One year later, TO THE DAY, we had to have another major emergency surgery on Christmas morning.
This time, they removed several feet of her small intestine & she had a complete hysterectomy…again, saving her life.
(It’s called the “small” intestine as it’s much narrower than the large one, but is much longer, measuring ~22 feet.)
While she eventually died on Sept 2001…the day before 9-11…and probably still would’ve have even if they didn’t screw up her first procedure with the use of the sulfur ointment, she suffered dearly for their mistake & had to undergo a pair of life-saving surgeries on consecutive Christmas mornings.
And while a successful lawsuit against Santa Rosa Hospital (the one in San Antonio’s Medical Center) would not have brought my daughter’s Mom back to her & me, we would have seen Laurie LoRusso’s name of the outside of the hospital or, at least, have that wing named after her.
Please don’t ask me why I didn’t seek legal recourse.
Yeah, it would/could not have brought my Laurie back or prevented her from dying, but it would have set up Heather for life & basically, taught that institution a very hard lesson.
Just like I think about my late wife every single day since she passed, I also kick myself for being so stupid.
Doesn’t matter how “smart” you may be (or think you are), that’s not enough from preventing you from doing some of the most stupid stuff in the history of mankind.
I’ve already told you guys the story of how I was requested by Citibank in the mid-80s to RE-ENTER THE BUILDING & SEARCH FOR A BOMB (or any strange package) after the Collections Dept received a bomb threat & we evacuated the entire building!
Seems the Nassau Police Dept threatened us with a hefty fine after we summoned them several times earlier that year for what turned out to be “false alarms”.
So, in order to avoid a fine, they requested that I do the police’s or the bomb squad’s job.
Any semi-decent lawyer out there would’ve had a field day with Citi unsuccessfully trying to defend their position…which was both stupid as well as potentially dangerous.
The 4th incident (these are in no particular chronological order) occurred in November of 2014 when I was recovering from surgery at a rehabilitation center in Dublin, OH…the Convalarium at Indian Hills.
Yes, I wrote an essay on that as well where, amongst other things, I had a nurse who deliberately & willfully denied me my daily medications, including 2 doses of insulin (after breakfast & lunch) ON MY VERY FIRST DAY AT THE FACILITY!!!
Then, she tried to cover her tracks by actually falsifying my records (recording that she dispensed them) & disposing of the medications!
But she “slipped up” by not taking the foil wrapping off the bottle of my insulin, thereby making it physically impossible for me to receive the needed injections!
I confided in my evening shift nurse about what was happening to me & she discovered this oversight herself…and promised to testify on my behalf when I sued this place’s ass off!
And then, a couple of weeks later, I had a different nurse flatly refuse to treat my open wound (a 6″ x 16″ surgical wound)…after I waited over 6 hours “while she was busy”! Later the next morning, she denied me one of my daily medications & left it instead for the day nurse to administer it to me.
That incident was reported to, and acknowledged by, the Director of Nursing!
But (butt?) this idiot right here…🙋🏻♂️ < < <…waited too long to file a formal complaint with the Ohio Board of Health & the window closed right in my face!
2 days before I was informed by an attorney of the required, proper procedure to take legal action.
And my 5th (!!!!!!!!!!!!) incident of utter stupidity came on Christmas morning 2001…you can now see why I absolutely fear Christmas…when my home nearly burned to the ground when a simple 2-log fire became an absolute inferno.
We had a fireplace equipped with a “gas flame” starter that would burn the ignite the wood initially, but then get turned off once the logs started burning on their own.
Little did we (Heather & I) realize that the pipe joint that carried the gas actually had a pin hole in its elbow. This allowed the gas to continue to seep out into the fireplace (even after we “turned off the gas”)& accumulate throughout the chimney.
I was partly responsible for almost blowing up my own home since I hadn’t had the chimney cleared out of the dangerous “chimney creosote”, a combination of soot & tar.
But again, a good lawyer would have easily made a case of “shared culpability” & held David Weekley Homes partially liable for what could’ve been a major disaster (instead of the fire that the San Antonio FD had to extinguish, tearing down the entire fireplace, surrounding wall & part of the roof).
Five opportunities to receive sizable awards from the court or, at a minimum, decent settlements from the city of San Antonio…
…Santa Rosa Hospital…
…Citibank & Suffolk County…
…the Convalarium at Indian Hills…
…and David Weekly Homes.
It’s not a matter of frivolous litigation or trying to make a quick buck in an unscrupulous manner, not at all.
But it’s all MY FAULT for simply “accepting” some pretty terrible stuff that happened in our lives & not holding the appropriate parties (at least, partially) responsible for their unacceptable & dangerous actions and decisions.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
As always, thank you for listening, though I wish I never had a reason to write this story… 😢