When I was in sixth grade, I decided to go out for football. I was a little kid, but that did not deter me. I was of average coordination, could run, pass, kick, and throw respectfully well, so I joined the Pee Wee football program. I had played Boys Club basketball for a few years, and a little baseball.
At any rate, I talked my best friend into joining with me. How we did practice in our yards leading up to the first official team practice! We talked football talk. We talked of being starters and scoring touchdowns and winning games. We talked of the future glories of being high school football players. We reveled in success before we even started.
First practice. John Wilson Bach met reality. The coach’s son had already locked up starting QB, the bastard. Running back was out as I was not a bruising runner. So, I hoped instead for wide receiver. I dutifully ran every drill and every route assigned to me, and I caught every pass thrown my way. I knew I had the job. I would be a receiver.
At some point that first practice the coach, in his infinite wisdom, called us all together. He gave us a little pep talk and lined us up for some practice plays. Before I could make my way to my wide receiver spot, he grabbed my face mask and placed me on the defensive line. I was one of the smallest kids out there, probably the smallest in fact.
I crouched. I waited for the snap. I had no idea what to do when the ball was snapped. Figured I’d follow everyone else’s lead. Immediately upon the snap I stood up from my stance. One second after that a thick, quick (for a 6th grader) fullback named Tim Young burst upon me and knocked me over onto my padded little ass. I wasn’t hurt physically, but all the pads and gear in the world couldn’t protect my budding man psyche from what followed that hit. Tim stood there and laughed. The other boys laughed. My best friend laughed. The coach laughed. I quit that day.
I say this for now it is almost 40 years later, and I can’t quit. A man cannot quit. I am a headhunter. A banking headhunter. Those not in the know say, “Oh, you find jobs for people.” It is so much more than that. The closest thing I can compare it to is being a car salesman who cold calls people in their homes and tries to sell them a car, not even knowing whether they are in the market. After zillions of “no’s” -both polite and agonizingly rude – a buyer is found. Possibility erupts. Only, the car can then decide not to be sold.
A headhunter can make upwards of 15 to 20 thousand dollars on one deal, or more or less, depending. People lie. Hiring freezes come out of nowhere. Counter offers are accepted last minute. Stupid Human Resource employees can get into the mix Everything can go wrong. Headhunters can make nothing. It’s all commission. A headhunter can feast or starve, or sometimes gnaw hungrily on tidbits, wondering what measure of a man he is. Rejection is the water that falls daily like spring rains.
But I cannot quit. This isn’t Peewee football. Life isn’t fair. I am still mad at that coach, and his son. I am still mad about many unfair things in life. But I go on. I pick up the phone. I call folks up and get told, ” No,” or, “Get lost.” Every once in a great while I hear the sweet, “Yes.” The pitch that sticks on the green, bringing me back to play again.
This nation wasn’t built by headhunters, but it was built by men who didn’t quit. What would our forefathers say of today’s social safety nets that all but invite quitting? What would they say of our Dear Leader or his would-be replacement (the punchy, grandmotherly “populist” Senator Elizabeth Warren) who try and diffuse and nit-pick the hard-earned successes of men who don’t quit?
We are better than this. Let’s elect better.