Sunday, September 16, 2012

T-Shirts and Tortillas- A life lesson from The Captain

What do tee shirts and tortillas have in common?  "C'mon" you say, "this is going to be a total waste of my time."  Maybe so, but if you've made it this far The Captain's guessing your hourly rate ain't all that relax...he'll get there.

The Captain's dad is smarter than him by a lot.  By a lot, he means if he held his arms out as far as he could while he said it, he'd need longer arms.  Between writing software (with punch cards mind you) to test the structural impact on B-52's of low level flights and managing a company that sold information systems to hospitals back when personal computers looked like Volkswagens, he's picked up a few nuggets of wisdom along the way.

The Captain's Dad

When The Captain was just a little chap occasionally the old man would drop a wisdom bomb on him.  Funny thing about wisdom bombs, they're almost always on a timer and don't go off until you're ready to be blown up.  To make matters even more confusing for little Captain, dear old dad would often deliver these bombs wrapped tidily in metaphorical language.

When The Captain was 18 he decided he wanted to own his own business but had no idea what to do.  After a little poking around he read one article that intrigued him.  It was about some college punk who came up with a t shirt idea and sold a ton of them at his campus.  Well crap, The Captain went to college, he was a punk...why not?  He met a t shirt printer and left with an idea.  A little artwork and a meeting later he sold a couple hundred tees to a youth hockey program as a fundraiser and pocketed $800.  He was rich.  Next he decided to design a shirt for his college basketball team and sell them outside the arena.  Shirts confiscated by campus police.  He was broke.  When he went to try to get his shirts back the guy who ran concessions at the arena said "Oh, that was you?  I like that design."  A handshake later the shirts were being sold legit in the arena.  He was rich.  And so it began....

The Captain, his Mom and the confiscated shirt

Ah, yes.  Tortillas.  You know how you remember oddly insignificant but significant moments from when you were younger?  Like the time your mom squatted down in a catchers stance in the side yard as you pitched to her. You knew her legs hurt and you also knew you'd have to be the one to end the session because she would have gladly endured the pain until dark.  Well, The Captain's dad told him one day "Be careful what you start doing in life, because the next thing you know it'll be 20 years later and you'll still be doing it."  He then went on to add "If you start selling tortillas, chances are you'll be selling tortillas the rest of your life."  Why tortillas?  Had he ate Mexican the night before?  Did a taco sound good to him.  Did he know somebody who sold tortillas?  The Captain will never know the answer to this, and it's probably best that he doesn't.

The Captain oddly remembers that conversation.  It was a great wisdom bomb, but alas, he wasn't ready to be blown up yet.  Fast forward to today as he gets ready to launch his T-Shirt website and dad's words resonate a little more.  Tick....tick....tick....BOOM!