Chapter 26, Blog 2
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
Still, I needed a qualifying time. The Peach State Games was my one chance for the 2007 outdoor season. After Atlanta, the premier runners headed to Osaka, Japan, for the World Championships in late August. With the 14-hour time difference, I had to watch the competition on tape delay. In the 800 meters, not one American qualified for the medal race. Yes, there was hope for me.
Kenya’s Alfred Kirwa Yego caught Canada’s Gary Reed at the tape to win the gold in 1:47.09. Russia’s Yuri Borzakosky placed third.
Just an Oregon minute, did I read that right? The winning time was 1:47.09?
“Hell, I could run that in my sleep, Harry.”
“Charlie, you have trouble keeping your bowels from running in your sleep,” he said. “Sit and give me 30 mental pushups.”
“Harry, that Kenyan guy lunged at the finish. Shouldn’t I practice that?”
“When you are ready to lunge, you can visualize it.”
I also discovered being famous wasn’t all bad. Companies throughout Northern Indiana began to seek out our firm for consulting jobs. Even in the 21st century, the Olympics still meant something. The Times story, picked up by other papers, mentioned I worked as an engineer for Hoffman. Project managers began to ask for “that old guy who runs track.”
Initially, my boss was jealous and the worse to work for until I threatened to pursue training full-time. Realizing the jobs might follow, his attitude adjusted.
“Take all the time off, you want, Wells. The Olympics are important to us, too,” he said. “The work will be here waiting for you.”
… C’mon, I dare ya. Ask for a raise …
With the publicity came offers for endorsements. Keep in mind, I hadn’t qualified for anything, short of AARP. But some still wanted to cash in on my 15 minutes. Between work, training and Russian lessons, though, I had no time to check out the proposals. However, without a second thought, I did turn down an offer from Depends.
I needed an agent. So I took a chance. I called Melinda.
Knowing she wouldn’t come to the phone, I was prepared to pitch the idea to Dedra and have her relay it. Before the phone rang twice, Melinda picked it up.
“Yes, Charles, what do YOU want?”
Maybe the buzz had done some good.
Maybe all those roses and notes I sent helped.
Maybe Ralphie told her about Sheila.
I explained I needed someone to make sense of the offers flooding in. Melinda considered it for all of 20 seconds – and agreed, insisting on 25 percent of everything I got paid. I agreed in a heartbeat. We had a deal.
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang