Staying on Brand

Evidence of Dad’s return to normal.  Riding at The White Stallion Ranch a few months after “The Incident”

Here’s a funny story that I’ve had sitting in drafts since this summer.  I had to wait until I knew everything was going to be OK, and it seems like it’s safe to share it.  See, this summer my dad had chest pain and ultimately ended up with a stent, but no serious long term damage.  He’s been back to normal for some time, but the whole incident is very telling.  As one of my siblings noted, the management of the entire affair was completely On Brand for Dad–Tom Bier Brand.

Brand coherence point #1:  Driving.  So, he had chest pain, identified it as something that he, as a former paramedic, would have sent to the E.D.  Great first step!  He avoided the popular habit of people in our family of ignoring warning signs such as, well, periodic crushing substernal chest pain, or a progressive numbness of the entire lower leg, or that horn growing out of the top of their head.  You know, subtle things like that.  The Tom Bier Brand (T.B.B., hereafter) takes medical issues seriously.

But not so seriously that they would compromise a far more important facet of the TBB, car driving.  Driving and automobile maintenance is dad’s primary love language.  He happily made the multi-hour drives to and from campuses with whatever frequency we kids deemed necessary.  There would be a few of sentences exchanged, and then we sat in silence while dad listened to AM sports radio out of Chicago.  WGN is my happy place.  He’d usually say a few more things before dropping us off, slip us some cash, and turn around immediately for the drive back home.  And we knew that we were loved.  Same with checking the cars’ oil, and inquiring about how the car’s running.

The man just loves driving.  After he retired, he started driving for a buddy’s limo company.  After the company folded, he continued driving a private stable of clients.  The Tom Bier service ranges from a drive to and from the airport, a drive to local meetings and appointments, and acting as a designated driver to allow for two martini lunches.  He even used to drive an elderly woman’s car down to Florida for her every year so she could tool around locally.  He’d drive down, stay for a day or two, and she flew him back home, the reverse occurring in spring.  He doesn’t “charge” anything, per se, but people pay just whatever they feel is appropriate. Because the drive itself is actually the reward.  Be it a car, a limo, or a riding lawnmower, the man just likes to be behind the wheel.  Listening to sports radio.

So it was a completely on-brand move that he chose to drive himself to the hospital.  Oh, don’t worry, he wasn’t alone, mom was there.  She was just in her usual spot in the passenger seat.

TBB coherence move number one:  drive at all times, including when you may or may not be having a heart attack.

Brand coherence point #2:  Devotion to youth sports in Southern Wisconsin.  So, dad’s a three-season official, and has been for as long as I can remember.  He just loves to be in a uniform, be it umping grays, or reffing stripes.  He officiates so frequently, that his uniforms need to be washed nearly nightly, and a fresh uniform is pretty much always hung to dry on the downstairs shower.  (This is due to Jan Bier Brand identity, all laundry must be air-dried for fear of shrinkage).  The night of the incident, Dad umped a double-header, and then went out for pizza and beer with the fellas afterward.  It was a typical summer night, one in which dad would have been unavailable for any other social engagements due to needing to keep those young athletes in line.

Could the chest pain have been due to the double header?  He claims he felt fine during, TBB.  Could it have had something to do with the pizza and beer?  Well….

Either way, it remains a fact that before ANY of his five children knew about his hospitalization, the corps of Southern Wisconsin sporting officials had been alerted so as to find subs for his upcoming games.

TBB coherence move number two:  hospitalization comes second to youth sports officiating.  Especially of double headers, obv.


I hope that this little review serves as inspiration for all of us to not only develop a personal brand, but then slavishly remain devoted to it at even the most trying of times.  I’m still working on the kinks of my brand, but I think it has something to do with sarcasm, inappropriately-timed comments, and leggings.





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