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July 12, 2013

Gary Church: Do I love New York? About as much as selling insurance

NEW CASTLE — At age 22, I decided to quit playing in the dirt and make a big career change.

That's when I became an insurance man for Metropolitan Life.

I thought, "How hard can it be, driving around and collecting people's insurance premiums?"

Back in the good old days, Metropolitan sent you to New York City for two weeks of training.

This trip was going to include a lot of firsts for me. For starters: I had never been to New York City, and I had never flown.

My manager, Lyle Koenig, gave me simple instructions for when I got off the plane at LaGuardia Airport.

He said a limo would take me to a central cab place. When you get in the cab, tell the driver you are going to the Gramercy Park Hotel.

Perhaps he should not have used the word limo.

In my mind, that was a long black car with a chauffer standing outside, opening the door for you to get in.

I looked for the limo at the airport, and it was nowhere to be found.

Not sure what to do, I waited for him to show, just in case he got caught in traffic.

During that wait, busload after busload left the airport.

After waiting quite a while, I realized all those buses leaving the airport were the limos he was talking about.

I finally boarded one, and made it to the hotel.

Two weeks of not seeing one blade of grass can make you a little homesick.

When my training was over, I left the hotel a little early to LaGuardia, so I would not miss my flight.

When I presented my ticket, the attendant told me I was at the wrong airport.

How did I know New York had more than one airport.

I had to jump in a cab and go to the airport in New Jersey.

I was one happy man when I saw New Castle again.

Later on, I learned that Metropolitan Life wanted you to actually sell insurance, not just collect money.

After two years, I realized that selling was not my strong point and went back to the dirt business.

But I can say when they show Times Square on New Year’s Eve, I was there once — for about 30 seconds.


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