// Ripped Pants and A Sweaty Back //
By: Taylor Haney
What I’m about to tell you is a true story. For some of you, this would be a nightmare; for others, another day on the streets (or in your office).
Disclaimer: For those of you who work like this every day, I commend and respect your efforts.
A few years ago, before I left my old job, I took a few interviews (this was right before I decided to open my own firm). A friend of mine and gym partner had been trying to convince me for years to come work with him at another large financial institution. I won’t name names, but it’s no secret which firm I’m referring to (see disclaimer, much respect). Out of respect for my buddy, I decided to take the interview. As part of the interview process, I was expected to “get out in the field” and see what it was like. What this really meant was knocking on doors, literally. Now, before I get a bunch of hate email, please finish reading my story and refer to disclaimer.
It was early June and the heat was beginning to descend on West Knoxville like an ominous beast from an old Japanese horror flick. I was dressed to the nines and armed with a tablet – you know, for appearance sake. The first place I went to was a well to-do neighborhood in West Knoxville. I drove around for a bit convincing myself that I could do this, but trying to find every excuse not to – like the obvious excuse of having nowhere to park. At the time, I was driving an older Lexus GS300 and thought I looked somewhat dapper. I didn’t want to scare anyone with my appearance, so I figured I’d wear my suit jacket even though it was hotter than Hades that day (more on that later).
I finally mustered enough courage and parked my semi-luxury car at the front of the neighborhood and proceeded to the first house. Never mind the fact that the neighborhood had a sign that clearly read “No Soliciting”. To my surprise, a man in his mid-40s opened the door. Before I had a chance to speak, he put his hand on his forehead and begin to shake his head saying “I’m going to stop you before you start. I’ve been where you are. I used to work in the financial services industry. Do yourself a favor. Get back in your car, go home, and never look back.” He then shut the door and I walked back to my car.
As I sat in my car, I pondered what he said. “I’m not a quitter”, I repeated to myself. “Onward!” I decided to drive around a bit and find a standalone home. I found a long driveway with an old Craftsman at the end of it. They seem nice. I parked my car on the side of the road and decided to give it another go. What happened next was life-changing for me.
I remember this driveway well. It was long, and hot. As I made my way up the driveway, I noticed two neat statues on the wrap around porch. They looked like gargoyles. At first, I thought it might have been the heat creating a mirage, but I could have sworn the statues were moving ever so slightly. It’s June and hot, onward. The statues did move. Oh, it’s just two little dogs. No harm. They started barking that piercing bark loud enough for the neighbors half a mile away to hear. I won’t have to knock I thought. Then the two little demon spawns began to run aggressively at me. At first, I thought I’ll just pet them, but as they got closer, it was apparent they didn’t want to be petted. Alright, I’m turning around now. Now some of you know that I’ve been known to run rather fast when I need to. I wasn’t worried. Those demon dogs can’t catch me. What started off as an awkward suit shuffle or skip turned into a full-on Usain Bolt sprint. Keep in mind I’m wearing a suit, carrying a tablet, and wearing dress shoes.
As the dogs got closer, I knew this was it. I’d die in embarrassment. The fastest kid on the team was going to be caught by two gremlins and eaten alive. I knew this would let so many people down. When I mentioned I was fast, I wasn’t kidding. But I was limited because of my attire and the tablet I was carrying.
Before the jaws of death descended on me, I turned to see one of the dogs jump and grab my pant leg. Out of instinct I swatted that minion with the force of Thor’s Mjolnir Hammer descending on a Frost Giant’s head. As the dog flew away from me, I noticed it had ripped my pants. His partner, seeing his comrade fall, decided to peel off and retreat. I continued my sprint to the end of the driveway and jumped in my car like a robber leaving a bank.
I turned my car on and flipped the AC to high, which is reserved for such occasions. You see, my car was semi-luxury. The AC didn’t always work, especially when you set it to “high”. To add insult to injury, it started blowing warm air. My back was sweating so bad, I am embarrassed to tell you that the seat got drenched – through my undershirt, dress shirt, and jacket. At this point, I noticed the dogs were back on the porch – barking – and the front door was beginning to open. Oh no! I have to go! They can see my license plate. I zoomed off! Safe!
The first call I made was to my wife. Through my hard-breathing, I let her know I had survived, giving her no immediate reference as to why I would say that.
They second call was to my friend who had set the interview up for me. He laughed and said, “You’ll have a great story to tell. Now get back out there and call me when you’re finished in 8 hours.” He then hung up the phone before I could ask him to pay for my ripped pants.
I ended that interview then and there and set out that afternoon to learn how to form my own company. Did those two demon dogs cause me to get where I am today? Some might say so, but I believe they were a great motivator. I still have those pants today, hanging in my closet. They remind me of the blessings I have in my life, like an air-conditioned office and no need to dress to the nines to impress.