Kay and I and the girls had moved back home after three years in LaLa Land. I had racked up enough failed attempts to impress the Hollywood Moguls. My tail was tucked beneath my legs and I had no prospects for work. Unable to shake off the sense of defeat, I was pretty glum to say the least.
One day my dad called and said he had a connection with a local bus company that took daily trips down to Lynchburg, Tennessee during the summer to tour the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. The bus company needed people to be the “smiling face” liaison for those who bought tickets for the tour. I did not have to lead the actual tour of the distillery. That job went to local Lynchburgians.
I’m sure my kind father thought this gig would cheer up his son: a day killed, one hundred dollars earned, and a few groceries for the wife and kids. What’s not to like? When I arrived at the Nashville Convention Center to sign in for the job, an associate with the touring company sized me up, pulled a red blazer off the rack, pinned a bus company nametag on my lapel, and said, “Go get ‘em, tiger.” Given my disposition at the time, I did not feel like a tiger with any “go get ‘em” in my tank.
At least I can say no one died on my watch. I got the people on the bus from the Jack Daniel’s Welcome Center, checked them all in, handed the flock off to the authorized Jack Daniel’s guide, followed the group through the distillery tour, and got them back on the bus for the trip home, all accounted for.
On the trip there and back, I sat in the co-pilot seat on the bus. As we were pulling up to the Convention Center on our return trip, the bus driver pointed to an empty tip jar secured on the dashboard. I had been too self-absorbed to even notice it before now. The driver leaned in my direction and said, “We might have gotten some tips if you’d had a better attitude.” There was no disguising his contempt.
Was it that obvious? I knew I was morose on the inside but apparently it had seeped through my pores and hardened like wax on my face. I was mortified, but it was too late to salvage the situation. I could not get off the bus fast enough, turn in my red coat and badge fast enough, and get home fast enough.
Now in my defense…well, I guess I don’t really have a defense. I still wake up with a bad attitude from time to time, but I usually stay home to minimize the damage done to mankind.