A Twenty-Dollar Story

I get to work ten minutes early and swipe my card at the time clock. I’m supposed to wait until my shift begins to clock-in but I’m slowly bilking this place. After punching in, I have to scan the parking lot to see if Doc is playing today. Most of the people who play golf here wouldn’t leave a tip at a circumcision, except for Doc.    

I see Doc’s old two-door Porsche in the parking lot. I know nothing about cars past the name written on the bumper so I have no idea what model it is. It’s a terrible car to drive to the golf course, I know that, because Doc’s clubs will only fit in the passenger seat.  

I should not expect anyone to tip. I do a mediocre job at best serving customers. I will also confess, if a customer should need something after 6 PM when the boss has gone home, chances are we are drinking beer in the cart barn and cannot be bothered. Still, golfers in general are a sorry conglomeration who can never figure out why they keep playing so terribly. 

“It must be the clubs or the ball or the course or the wind or the sun or the grass or the…” I’ve heard them all. 

“No, sir, you just suck at golf. Can I have a dollar?” For a dollar, I’ll listen to all your excuses. 

I go and look for Jim in the back of the cart barn. 

“Jim, what time did Doc tee off?” Jim works the morning shift.

“Oh, about 10:00, I think. He’s playing with Stephenson.” Jim has left a few carts in the back uncleaned. He is the only one of us willing to get her at 5 AM so we accept some slacking in his job performance. Jim is in his 60s, retired and basically works for free golf. That’s about the only perk of being an employee here. 

“Were you able to pick the range?” I asked Jim, knowing that he hadn’t because he never does. 

“Got too busy. We were solid from 8 until 12. Just started to slow down as you got here. Am I good?” Jim was asking if he could leave. 

“Fine with me, Jim. Have a good afternoon.”

“Okay, thanks, bud.” He called me “bud” because he can’t remember my name even though “David” is written on my jumpsuit and we’ve worked together for two years. 

Jim leaves and I go to check how many balls are left in the range machine. It’s almost half full, which means I’ll have enough time to take care of Doc before I have to go out and pick balls to refill it. You can’t neglect or steal from the range because it makes the course too much money. One kid got caught selling buckets of balls out of the back after hours for half price a few months ago. He probably stole $100 a day until he got caught. If you want to keep one of these low-stress no-pressure jobs, don’t fuck with the money. 

If Doc teed off at 10, he will be finished around 2. Nobody else in his group will tip. Doc tips $20 every time. He doesn’t even ask us to clean his clubs. All he wants is for us to ask him how played that day. Doc is a neurosurgeon at Roper. He only works 3 days a week because his job is so stressful. He plays golf whenever he can.

The thing about Doc is that he cheats. I don’t mean little things like improving lies or doing the ole “here it is” by dropping a ball out of your pocket when you know it’s in the woods. No, Doc is a terrible cheater. Like a can’t-break-80-but-writes-down-70 kind of cheater. My favorite way Doc cheats is on the green. He will pretend to mark his ball, pick it up and move to take the flag stick out. On his way to get the flag, he’ll drop his mark five or six feet closer to the hole than the original position, giving himself a much shorter putt. He has also been known to toss a ball or two out of trouble and on to greens with his trusty hand wedge. I think Doc tips $20 partly so we’ll keep our mouth shut about his cheating. No one in their right mind gambles with Doc. If they do, they give him no strokes and watch him like Dr. Chilton watched Hannibal Lecter. When Doc enters a tournament and can’t cheat, he usually gets a beep from the hospital for an “emergency” about hole number 16. During tournaments is the only time Doc gets beeped. 

I’m sure Doc is a brilliant surgeon, but I wouldn’t want him to cheat on my brain. In the barn, we wonder if he actually is a surgeon. I think he is and has to be so meticulous and precise in his work that he uses cheating at golf as an escape from the seriousness of his life. He could be a Chia Pet salesman for all I care as long as he keeps tipping $20. 

I go into the snack bar to get a water. Through the window, I see Doc in the middle of the fairway on 18. I wonder how he got there. 

“Hey, David.” Clair, the girl who works behind the bar says. She’s beautiful with brown hair and freckles that I like. She wears yoga pants that everybody likes. 

“Hey, Clair. I can’t talk, Doc is finishing up.”

“Oh, Doc, you mean the guy who tips everyone but me, Doc?” Clair says. 

I walk out of the snack bar with my hands up in the “I don’t know” position in response to Clair’s question. I wait for Doc at the bend in the cart path by the practice green. While I’m waiting, I notice some goober teeing off on the first hole. In my head I predict how he’s going to hit it. His jorts tell me this ball isn’t getting off the ground. I’m correct and the goober hits a worm-burner hard left. Jorts and good golf never mix. 

Doc drives his cart to the bend. I ignore the other gentlemen and offer him “Good afternoon.” 

“Fine, just fine,” Doc says and I step on the back of his cart. He’s already telling me how he played. We get to his Porsche and I hop down to start cleaning his clubs off with the rag I have in the back of my jumpsuit. 

“Don’t worry about it.” Doc says and hands me a $20. 

“What did you fire today, Doc?” I say.

“I shot a smooth 68. I made par on 18 because the wind was blowing pretty steady.” 18 is a par 5 which should be easily scored on if you are not a fake-good golfer. 

“Man, I wish I could play that well,” I say as I take Doc’s clubs off the back of his cart and put them in the front seat of his Porsche. “Thanks and have a good afternoon, Doc.” 

“Have a good day.” He says as he gets in his car. I drive his cart back to the barn so I can spray it out with a hose. That is an easy twenty bucks.

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