Under The Rainbow
Under the Rainbow, By Joe Carson Somewhere over the rainbow way up high There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby, E. Y. Harburg Economics is the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between given ends and scarce means which have alternative uses, Lionel Robbins It is the day of the 2014 Member-Member tournament at Sebonack Golf Club and awaiting a slow group ahead to play forward our group stalls on the eleventh tee. From here we command a view of the Peconic Bay and the south shore of this body of water rims up along the bay’s belly beneath the Shinnecock Tribe’s property in Hampton Bays. Sebonack’s eleventh hole is often regarded as one of the premier iconic golf views on the east end of Long Island. Waiting on the tee, one of the men in the group, gray haired and portly, begins to retell a tale that ends with this essential bit of information, I own Somewhere Over the Rainbow. It makes millions of dollars a year, still. The other caddy and I look at each other and shake our heads. He whispers to me, can I have it for just two weeks? Sebonack is that kind of place. The members own other golf courses, and they own diamond mines, and they own football teams, and one of them owns Jack Nicklaus’s name. It has been repeatedly quipped that the total net worth of Sebonack’s founding members is higher than the GDP of several countries. As one member said, we’re more of the hedge-fund-criminal type here. For Sebonack’s forty or so caddies, it is their economy. The 1.2 million dollars in annual caddy fees are as Robbins defined, the scarce means with alternative uses. And this revenue provides for the lives of these men. The caddies, rather than owning equity, or securities, or real estate, own beat up cars, debts, and for some, vices. It’s an alluring profession, which promises fast cash and a great office, but in my experience I haven’t seen many caddy success stories. Old caddies don’t die, they fall apart slowly without health insurance. A caddy, by my definition, is a person who is paid an exorbitant fee to tell an often confused player what the club in their hand is going to do the ball on the ground after they misuse it. Occasionally, after such disasters, we give hugs. But the baffling beauty of this job is the alignment of the usually poor with exceedlingly wealthy for several hours at a time. If there was ever a place to visualize America’s income disparity, then this is it. One of my colleagues, Mauricio, is a Colombian immigrant. He is the definition of someone who has been sold on the idea of chasing the American Dream. The odds of his success are in stiff opposition to his intentions. He frequently shares crude humor about the love he’s made to “many womans” in the back of a taxi he once drove. But his ability to calculate yardages as affected by wind and slope in addition to his uncanny ability to read greens leaves him somewhere on the spectrum of savants and highly coveted in this profession. He possesses a vocabulary of the English language comparable to native speakers, though his accent routinely encumbers his delivery. In a small, mental dictionary of my own, I keep words of his and their translations. Hog-skid means hop-skip. He yells this at a skulled ball on our par-three over water as means of encouragement to a ball destined to an aquatic death. Play it lotto, means play it lateral. And, ultimately, one of his favorite lines, when a putt just barely misses the cup is, call 1-1-1, you got roughed. His intention is to say, call 9-1-1! You got robbed! The head of Goldman Sachs is a member here. He possesses a rags to riches Brooklyn Jew story and research will show you that he has a track record for success derived out of endurance. For his supposed involvement in the nation’s catastrophic recession, the U.S. Justice Department summoned him to congressional hearings, but they didn’t get their man. And despite many cries for his resignation, he still maintains his position. Mauricio caddies for him. An utterly impoverished man that drives a failing car an hour to work from a meager home where he lives with a wife and several children, caddies for possibly the single most important man in the American, if not global, financial empire. Sebonack’s self-made stories are often legendary. One story goes something like this. Joe, I was thirty and fired from my job. And before I went job hunting my wife encouraged me to go out and start my own business. I had always wanted to do it. So I gave it a shot. I had a tip that the city water authority had a job and I outbid another contractor. He did the work with borrowed tools and borrowed labor and returning to the office where he secured the work the week following his laborious weekend he was met in the office with contempt and was told by the man at the desk, I knew it, you haven’t even started yet. But in with him he carried affirmation that the job was complete. Thirty years ago, in the ten weeks following that first job his new business made over one hundred thousand dollars. Last year it did four hundred and fifty million in revenue. Alone he contributes one million dollars a year of his own money to a charity on the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. They raise chickens there and these chickens lay eggs so that children can get an education on a full stomach. What Occupy Wall St. lacked in addition to coherence and direction was access to their targets, or getting their daggers past the guards. Caddies could whisper directly into the ears of some the occupiers highest profile enemies, and for the most part they are oblivious to the opportunity. And so the head of Goldman, and Mauricio are walking off together toward the first tee. They are surrounded by the fairways that lay like the spread train of the clubhouse’s dress, the building sided in gray stained cedar shakes like the sequined dress of some Gatsbyian beauty. Mauricio, as I have seen him so many times before, will stand on the green with the flag stick rested across his shoulders, his shadow the image of his own crucifixion and American dreaming he will watch as the head of Goldman Sach’s misses his putt. His favorite line will come out. And a man pursued on accusations that he in fact was responsible for the American, and global recession, will be told in broken English, by a Colombian caddy and part-time pizza delivery man, Call 111, you got roughed. Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.