i mentioned in my last entry that i would eventually tell the story of my dad’s t-shirt. now is the time for me to do that.
when i was an elementary & middle school student in dothan, alabama baseball was a large part of my life. since, it was also a large part of my brother’s life it just naturally became a large part of my whole family’s life. we spent our nights at westgate park eating corn dogs and nachos while shouting for our friends and family who were playing ball. it was allot of fun. in fact, it was so much fun that my dad decided to get into the act by coaching. now my dad is smart enough to know that if he coached me or my brother he would either be too hard or too soft on us. so instead of coaching my or kenny he coached the league right under my younger brother’s league.
my dad is a great salesman. he could sell ice to an eskimo and sand to a desert nomad. he’s good and he knows a good advertising opportunity when it comes before him. coaching baseball was just such an opportunity. he realized that he would be coaching the kids of people who might have connections for increasing his company’s sales. of course, dad would have to be subtle about it. he knew enough to realize that it wouldn’t work to just walk up to a kid’s parents and say “hey, little johnny is playing great but you know you’re business sure could use some help.” so my dad decided to use subliminal messaging to convey his message. subliminal messaging is where you sneak a message into the field of vision of the people you want to attract. you advertise your product without them ever realizing that they have been exposed to advertising. my dad’s subtlety came through a t-shirt.
at that time my dad managed a company called unijax. unijax was a paper and janitorial supply company. this means that they sold printing paper, cleaning supplies, various chemicals, and the grand-daddy of all products … toilet paper. this was the product that my dad wanted his team parents to buy. after all, the economy might go south and people might neglect buying other products but no matter how bad it got everyone was still going to buy toilet paper. it’s a recession-proof product. floyd, my dad, went to a local sporting goods store and had them make his t-shirt. this way he could wear it to baseball practices and the games and the parents would have this message embedded in their minds. what message was it that he wanted them to remember? what would be the single point that all those parents and in fact the whole ball park would remember? the t-shirt said …
“unijax: the toilet paper people”
my dad wore brown socks, bermuda shorts, and the “toilet paper” shirt to all his ball games. of course, all my friends picked up on this. people would come up to me and say “hey, you’re dad’s the toilet paper guy, right?” it was a hard image to live down. so if you wonder why i am the way i am it’s because of the “toilet paper” shirt. it has haunted me for years.
i’m sure most of you don’t believe this story but it is true and if i can find a picture of the t-shirt i’ll post it so you too can enjoy the horror.
btw, that shirt supported me for a large part of my life so i really don’t bear it any grudge – sort of.