Thursday, October 26, 2006

Found Him: The Most Powerful Man In Binghamton!

If you know me, you know that I have a knack for sniffing out the influential people in the organization. This came in handy when I was lobbying. For example, one of the most powerful people in Los Angeles City Hall, at least as far as the lobbyists were concerned, was Louie the parking lot attendant. "Parking lot attendant" is really not adquate to describe him; he is literally a gatekeeper, in his post at the guard shack at the entrance to the parking lot inside the bowels of the City Hall building itself.

Having an "in" with Louie, and the few coveted parking spots he guarded for the Mayor, the City Council members, and a few lucky others meant the difference between leaving your car in climate-controlled, covered comfort, and walking literally 2 steps into the building . . . or parking in one of the far-flung lots that have sprung up to inconveniently accomodate cars in the modern era (in 1928 when L.A. City Hall was built, they didn't plan for these things too well).

At my old job, we literally paid Louie off: gift certificates at Christmastime, I think we even sponsored some advertisement or something on his uncle's local access TV show or some craziness like that. It all sounded sleazy to me, paying off a public servant for the use of public space, but I admit that I looked the other way because it was worth it, whatever the price.

So you can imagine my sense of accomplishment when I finally zeroed in on him: The Most Powerful Man in Binghamton. His name is Gary. He doesn't need a last name. He is . . . the guy in charge of maintaining the lanes at the Binghamton Club's private bowling alley.

I immediately caught on to Gary's magical powers when I sat with John's new bowling buddies on the first night of the bowling season a few weeks ago. The half-dozen guys sitting around the table were all relative big-shots around here, but the conversation focused not on business or even sports, but on Gary and their predictions about how he was going to oil the lanes next week, and the next.

Would it be "extra oily," in which case the ball gets less traction, spins less and therefore curves less? Or not-so-oily, in which case the ball will roll with more of an arc, which must be compensated for by the bowler? Enquiring minds wanted to know! And speculate. And, knowing these guys, most likely take bets on it.

At the end of the day, Gary the somewhat-mentally-challenged guy in charge of lane maintenance at the Binghamton Club wields more power than he could possibly know.

But I know!

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