It seemed so innocent

I wrote this for the purpose of a Facebook note, but I would love to make it more public. So, here ya go.


As I returned to town with girlfriend in company, I had a sudden idea. I had recently purchased a new driver from Play It Again Sports on Bangor Street. Good investment from a good business. The employee there – almost certainly still in high school – went so far as to virtually insist on carrying out my other, bulkier purchases for me. If not a good business sense, then he at least at a solid grasp on common decency. So in my desire to complete the satisfaction around my recent acquisition, I decided to stop by T’s Golf in Manchester to hit a couple balls.

It wasn’t far from closing time and I didn’t want to make anyone wait around for me to hit a full bucket. Besides that, I had a lovely lady to entertain. As such, I only wanted to hit 3 or 4 balls. Purchasing a full bucket wasn’t in my plans.

Upon arriving at the range, I noticed the empty lot. I always wondered why I rarely saw many vehicles at this business. This night I chalked it up to the late time and gloomy weather.

I grabbed my clubs, a few balls and set up at one of the deserted tees. It didn’t take long for Rawn “Misspelled-Name-And-All” Torrington to come out with his wife Judy. When he asked “Are you hitting your own golf balls?”, I naturally assumed the best in him, thinking he was making some friendly chit-chat. Just imagine it. The local proprietor seeking quality relations with his customers. It happens all the time, every day. As much as I’ll rag on Hannaford or McDonald’s or any other lowing-paying retail location, they usually higher good people who usually treat customers with kindness; if not always great service, then at least kindness. But we all know what happens when one assumes. It makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.

Rather than being the savvy owner I expected, Torrington instead showed a complete disregard for good business sense, not to mention common decency. He opened by chiding me for daring to use his facilities for free. “I have $200,000 invested in this operation!” he wailed. Okay. Let’s hang on a second.

It’s fair enough that he wouldn’t offer his services for free. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to let a person take a whack or two on range where a roaming tumble-weed may be expected, especially if said person is using his own equipment. There’s no gain or loss, regardless of the operation being worth $2, $200,000, or $2,000,000. But again, it’s fair enough. It’s his business and he isn’t supplying anyone with a free playground.

That isn’t the problem.

The problem is that Torrington’s blood was virtually boiling. He had no justification for his reaction. He was perhaps only rivaled by Mrs. Torrington’s immaturity.

I say without embellishment or revision, our reaction was nothing if not mild. I briefly explained that I just wanted to hit a ball or two to try out a new club. Judy Torrington tore into us, foam not far behind her lips.

“You should know better!”, she screeched.

Know better than what, Torringtons? Than to innocently hit a few balls into a field? I’ll concede that asking would have been prudent. But whether or not I should have known better or done differently is far from the point. The point is that bad behavior is rarely justified. This falls under no exception of which I can imagine, if there even are any.

In the interest of full disclosure, I let fly some colorful language. I regret ceding the high-ground, though not the sentiment behind the words.

We packed up our gear, constantly reminding these two horrible business owners that we weren’t maliciously attacking their livelihood. They seemed convince that any action which does not result in profit for them must also be a personal slight.

And here’s the kicker. Had either of these individuals simply explained, with calm and composure, that they didn’t allow people to hit their own golf balls, I would have asked how much a small bucket cost. I assumed at least $5, not to mention the time it’d take for me to hit them when I arrived. As it turns out, according to their website, I could have gotten 10 balls for a buck fifty. I have no doubt that I would have made the investment.

As a result of the – to be frank – dumb business practices of T’s Golf in Manchester, they have forever lost my business. In reality, I didn’t contribute an arm and a leg in the first place. Independent of all this, I’ve always thought their mini golf was one of the worst I’ve ever played; it has no pop, no pizzazz. What’s more, they don’t provide the clubs for their driving range. T’s Golf, regardless of the poorly customer-versed owners, is not a good facility from the get-go. This recent debacle only ensures that even less of my money – precisely zero dollars – ever gets spent there.

But the story doesn’t end here. And I’m not alone.

Immediately following this incident, I headed over to All Steak Hamburger on Hospital Street. It was there that I spoke with the owner (whose name I missed).

Because he has a driving range (as well as a restaurant and batting cages) I asked him what he would do if someone wanted to hit a couple of their own golf balls from his tees. He said it didn’t matter to him. Anyone who does it will obviously lose anything they hit, but people can bring entire bags of golf balls for all he cares (and they have). That’s good business sense.

After he explained his casual position to my scenario, I told him that I had just come from T’s and…his laughter quickly cut me off.

“Well, there’s your problem.”

As an anecdote, he told me that he gets about 1 customer per week as a result of Rawn and Judy Torrington and their bad business sense. I believe it. In speaking with further friends and family, that anecdote seems to be slowly morphing into a pattern.

So let’s break down what happened. I went to hit a few balls into a field. Rawn and Judy Torrington not only said no, but they practically cried it. It would be fine for them to kindly object to what I was doing. My actions were reasonable, but quality justifications can certainly be made against them. But, again, that isn’t the point. It’s the reaction to my actions which deserve the attention here. The bad moral and bad business decisions of the Torrington’s forever cost them my dollars. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say it has cost them the dollars of anyone reading this. Furthermore, it damages their reputation. Granted, the anecdotes appear to indicate that they already have awful reputations, but this certainly doesn’t help.

I guess I can’t just blame the rain for their empty parking lot. After all, All Steak Hamburger had both of their parking areas filled. Funny that.