my friend bill

a post from adam.

i am not a watch guy. i don’t get excited about unique wristbands, oversized faces, or gps features. i rarely notice another person’s wristpiece as an accessory, and then it is usually in annoyance at how much they must have overspent.

but lately, i have been wearing a watch that retails for $499. Yes, four hundred and ninety-nine buckaroos. Which could buy a guy like me two or three months of groceries. Or a subscription to MLB.TV for 4 years. Or an XBox 360, two extra controllers, and Madden ’08. the list could go on. i wear this watch, which is a Suunto X6 by the way, more than any other accessory i have ever owned (high school fake Oakleys included).

I sit next to this guy Bill, who has worked at Wilson for over 30 years. He designs Wilson’s factories for tennis balls. Which means, he dictates where the conveyer belts run and where the bright yellow felt dries. He knows the cost of Natural Rubber by the pound, of felt by the yard. He wrote the Quality Control book that standardizes every ingredient of a Wilson tennis ball, from rebound height to seam width. Try to imagine making FOUR MILLION units of anything exactly the same. That’s right, we are chasing perfection; and then imitating the ideal ball four to five million times per year.

So Bill is an engineer. Down to his short-sleeved button downs and parted hair. He even thinks symmetrically. every day, he enters the office at 8am and leaves at 5pm, taking a lunch break from 12 noon til 1pm. every single day, exactly. at the end of each month, he gathers a large grocery bag full of diet coke cans (which he drinks like water) and carries the plastic bag over his shoulder like a sack full of presents to go home and recycle. he is a creature of exact habit.

bill is my best friend in the office. i arrive every day between 830 and 845, and we talk until around 9. we talk about slow pitch softball, politics, religion, our families. and we ask specific questions…like why is a high-arching softball pitch so hard to hit? or why is it that in the nba a superstar can take over a game, but in the nfl one player can hardly carry a team? or why is it so hard for an identical twin to go off and get married?

bill is an identical twin, and an athlete, and he tolerates corporate life with the same balance of gratitude and disdain that i have quickly learned. we have these things in common. but what i love so much about this man is that he is fiercely loyal.

just this week, our other friend dan, who is a good guy and fancies himself a jokester, walked by the workspace bill and i share. i offered dan a ride home. he cheerfully accepted, and then added, “thanks, adam. the next time bill talks shit about you, i’ll make sure to tell him that you’re a great guy.” he started to walk away, amused at the joke i have now heard him tell four times, before bill hollered, “i’d never say a thing about adam. i’m always on his side! he’s like one of my children.” dan laughed, and kept walking. and i suppose he thought bill was kidding.

about three months ago, bill was leaving for lunch at about 11:59am, and he leaned over the top of my cubicle wall, “hey adam, would you ever wear a watch?” he whispered. “sure bill,” i said. “i have never been a big watch guy, but i’ve just never really owned one.” he left, and shortly after, i took the elevator to the second floor to take my break. when i returned to my desk, two small cardboard boxes sat unopened next to my keyboard. bill had me try on both watches, and pick my favorite. “my son never really liked them,” he said.

so i wear the suunto x6 with pride. i have absolutely no idea how to follow the compass, or read the barometer, or even set the alarm. but it is worth two months of groceries every time i look down and remember bill’s kindness.

to follow, here is bill’s email to me today. ladies, no harm intended…

Hi Adam:

I would imagine you know everything there is to know about women……but just in case you don’t…………here are some VERY helpful hints in communicating with women.

Always watching your back,

Bill

9 WORDS WOMEN USE

1. Fine : This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

2. Five Minutes : If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before leaving for a dinner party.

3. Nothing : This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.

4. Go Ahead : This is a dare, NOT permission. Don’t Do It !!!

5. Loud Sigh : This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to #3 for the meaning of nothing.)

6. That’s Okay : This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That’s okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

7. Thanks : A woman is thanking you, do not question, or begin any additional discussion. Just say you’re welcome.

8 . Whatever : Is a women’s way of saying SCREW YOU!9. Don’t worry about it, I got it : Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking “What’s wrong?” For the woman’s response refer to #3.

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2 responses to “my friend bill

  • Bobby

    one of the most enjoyable reads i’ve had in all of your writings. simple, sweet, sincere. great post today adam.

  • Brooke

    haha, i love the email he sent you! Since I’m a woman, I can confirm that at least #4 is true. Can’t wait to take a good look at that watch! I love it when things you own have good stories behind them and so much meaning attached to them.

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