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Blog: Dealing With A Guy Who Screwed You Over

(originally written 12/17/14)

Let's jump into the wayback machine,  to the year 1993.


Young Skillz—though that moniker hadn't fully stuck yet—was a 13-year-old Babe Ruth League superstar. And by "superstar" I mean "suckbag". I was pretty damn terrible at the game back then. If roster spots weren't guaranteed to each kid, many a coach would have cut me in the middle of an at-bat.


But not coach Marty Cumatautao (spelling). A short, enthusiastic Filipino man of about 40, Marty was positive to the point of near-delusion. There was no hanging our heads after a loss, or even a bad play—Marty was always about taking good from bad. One wouldn't have been at all surprised to learn he moonlighted as a car battery terminal, that's how positive the guy was. (See what I did there?)


I didn't know what Marty's actual profession was when I played for him—that didn't come until about 10 years later when I went to Chevron for gas and ran into him. Turns out Coach wasn't a car battery terminal, but pretty close: he managed that Chevron's auto shop.


I'd long forgotten Marty but he recognized me instantly despite six more inches, 75 more pounds, freshly grown facial hair and lost virginity. As I fueled, Marty examined my car and noticed my tires needed replacing (which they did.)


My car took 15-inchers, a size that ran me $80 per tire new. So when Coach informed me of a "special" underway—a set of four for $200—I jumped on it. That is, as soon as I confirmed this deal applied to my 15-inchers. "Don't worry. I'll take care of you," said Marty. "Just bring it in when you can." I got no official quote. I signed nothing. It was "Coach", right? Why would I? I went back two days later and Marty went to work.


Afterward, without so much as an apology, Marty stated the deal did not apply to my size after all and I'd have to pay full price—which was more than double the "special" price. He was not friendly; in fact, he was hasty and impersonal. In that moment, Marty was not "Coach" at all. He was a mechanic who wanted his money without any crap.


I got played, plain and simple. He took advantage of our relationship and my naivete. Fortunately, I had a Chevron card on which to make the purchase. I never was able to pay it off in full.


But I'm not here to talk about the past. Let's exit the wayback machine and return to December 2014.


Recently, at a 707 store, someone called my name. "Hey, it's me, Coach Marty!" Yes it was, indeed—only now fully gray. As he tried to engage in the "How ya been?" chit-chat, my mind centered on the tire screwjob and the tire screwjob only. Not the coaching, not the positivity, not the encouragement. Just the money he screwed me out of 11 years ago. 


At this point I could have handled our interaction one of two ways:


  • Unleashing the petty by reminding Marty of our last encounter at that now-demolished Chevron and letting him know what a scumbag he was for that move, thereby freeing myself of any lingering bitterness, or

  • Being cordial and mature, keeping my head high and behaving as if his scam never even mattered to me.


This was a difficult choice because I am petty. I do hold grudges. Ask Costco—I still refuse to shop there over a ten-year-old incident. Ask various people I've permanently erased from my life for what others might describe as silly infractions. Ask my father, who made the mistake of smarting off to me on my 22nd birthday and has yet to hear from me since. (I'm now three months from 35, FYI).


On the other hand, 11 years have gone by. I mentioned the demolished Chevron—for all I know, Marty lost his job and it's been an epic struggle of a past decade for the guy. And all that rehashing Tiregate would accomplish in that moment would be making me look small. Which is very difficult to do to a 335-pound man.


Of course, there was the chance of Marty getting pissed and throwing the $200 difference at me in disgust over my pettiness...and I could certainly use $200! But not like that.


Ultimately, I hit Coach Marty with half-assed, monosyllabic answers that even Marshawn Lynch would envy. Neither of us mentioned Chevron. The encounter lasted 20 painful seconds, during which Coach could surely tell I'd rather be anywhere else. So he set off for parts unknown. I think we even shook hands, but don't remember for sure.


Yes, I'm bothered by the fact this guy received no (known) comeuppance for Tiregate. But there's something to the old saying, "The best revenge is living well." It's applied mostly to breakups, but really it applies anywhere. I allowed Marty to laugh at duping me 11 years ago. If I confronted him publicly and made a scene, I'd allow him to laugh at my inability to get past it. He wins twice.


Besides, the lesson learned from Coach Marty—that just because you "know" someone doesn't mean they give a flying f--- about you—has served me well.

Skillz received long-lasting benefits by overpaying his coach for 15 inches...but he wouldn't do it again.

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