Bow to the Master
It was 1988. I was in my mid-20’s, working at a semiconductor company in the heart of Silicon Valley. I had shrewdly parlayed my marketing degree into a shitty $25K job, meting out GaAs FETs and laser diodes to companies like California Amplifier, Amplica, Scientific Atlanta, Laser Precision, and Photon Kinetics. We sold millions of these components, and I was the one passing them out every day to the deserving few.
This was the place I met the woman who would eventually consent to be my wife. But that’s not the story I’m telling right now.
It was a boom period for semiconductor companies. We were in what was called “allocation mode” which meant we had open orders for more products than our factory could produce. I might get 50,000 units of the MGF-1302-15 FET (used in amplifiers for satellites) in a given month, and 100,000 might be on backlog for our customers. I was the one who contacted the customers to determine their needs, and played God with the limited resources. Some for you, some for you, none for you, etc. You meet your production needs, your line goes down, you pay in advance, you go belly-up, etc.
I wasn’t actually the one who sent out the product, I just told our operations person who she should ship product to and when. Her name was Royce Woods. She was the one who had to sweet-talk the warehouse when we needed special packaging, she actually pulled the strings to get the stuff where it needed to go. She was (and still is) a round, friendly black woman. She loved to talk about her baby brother who was 12 or 13. Apparently, he had been winning junior golf tournaments in Southern California, and had been on TV, and blah blah blah.
I played a little golf too, though not very well, but being 24 and reasonably sure I would never have to prove it, told her to bring her brother up to Northern California, where I’d kick his ass. She laughed at me, and her brother never came and played me at the local pitch-and-putt, though apparently he continued to get better and better.
She brought him to the company Christmas party a few years later, after he had won the US Amateur two times in a row. She couldn’t wait to introduce me. “Tiger, this is Todd. He’s the guy I told you about.”
I shook his hand and he smiled that broad smile that everyone knows by now. I then stepped back and genuflected, embarrassing him, his sister, and my wife. I asked him if he was going to win three US Amateurs in a row. He smiled and said “I’ll try” before he was whisked away to schmooze with company VIPs. My wife looked at me, “I can’t believe you just did that” she said, “He seems nice.”
I nodded. He turned out all right.
I’m still waiting for someone to ask him about that idiot who embarrassed him at his sister’s company Christmas party. Good luck this week, Tiger.