Apr. 1—It was sometime in the mid- to late-1990s, I don't remember exactly what year, but I definitely remember the date.
In my former life selling pizzas, it was an unusually slow Friday night. I remember that because I had plenty of time for several personal calls that night, and it started when I heard from one of my best friends in the company and my days-off golfing buddy, Scott Baker.
Scott ran a store in Greenfield, and it was not uncommon that we'd call one another and chat about our evening, our business or what our families were up to. He called this particular evening claiming he had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us.
He shared with me that a customer he was friendly with goes to The Masters golf tournament in Georgia every year. But he was unable to go this year and was offering his tickets to Scott, who wanted to know if I'd be interested in going to Augusta with him.
Before he could finish the question, I already had the smell of Georgia pines in my nostrils. I could see the magnolias in full bloom as well as the perfectly manicured greens and lush green fairways of Augusta National. I could hear the roars coming from the crowds situated around "Amen Corner" and the 18th green.
Of course I wanted to go, I said. But with the Masters being held the following week, it was incredibly short notice. How would I cover my shifts at work? There were family considerations. Our daughter was very young at the time. How would my wife feel about me running off to Georgia for a week?
There were financial considerations as well. We were doing OK, but we didn't necessarily have a couple thousand dollars laying around for the hotel and the other expenses I would surely incur during this trip.
I'll get back to you, but yes, I definitely want to go, I told him.
I had a good staff at the time and, yes, they were all willing to pick up some extra shifts so I could go on this dream trip. My boss, reticent at first, finally relented and said, as long as the store was covered, I was good to go.
I called home, fully expecting to hear "absolutely not!" from Anne.
But, she understood my love of golf and recognized this type of opportunity wasn't likely to come around again, ever. She suggested I call my parents to see if they could help with the money problem.
I did so, and being the wonderful supportive mom and dad that they've always been, they were all too happy to help.
There, it was all set.
So, I called Scott back.
We talked for a few minutes about accommodations. Looking for a hotel in that area for that week would be tough, but we'd find something.
Then he asked me a question.
"Rob, what day is today?"
"No, what day is it?"
"It's April Fir...."
Yep, they had all been in on the joke, a well-executed April Fool's Day prank like none I'd ever fallen victim to before.
It was at least a few days before I was willing to speak with any of the perpetrators.
I've still never been to Augusta, but I always think back to that April 1, Scott Baker and the smell of the pines that still lingers when The Masters rolls around again.
Contact Rob Hunt at email@example.com or 765-640-4886.