Friday, April 16, 2010

Shallow Pool

Each year during the NCAA basketball tournament, we have a friendly betting pool here at work. Two dollars down plus a filled-in bracket, with a little bit of luck, can get you a 50-fold return on your investment. More importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, it can give you bragging rights for the rest of time. This pool has been going on for more than 10 years now. Some folks are regulars at or near the top of the leaderboard each year. They consistently finish in the top ten. You can pick them out of a crowd because they hold their heads up just a little bit higher than everyone else. However, there are some folks who finish at or near the bottom each year. Who knows what system they use to make their picks. Seeds? Hah! They don't need no stinkin' seeds. Maybe they base their picks on some sort of astrological influence. Maybe they flip a coin. Who knows?

My buddy Mac (see All About Mac) has consistently finished at or near last place every year. One of the features of our pool is that the last place "winner" gets their $2 back. A sort of booby prize if you will. It is really meant as a form of public humiliation. Two things that you can bet on with assurance in this life are the losers at Pimlico being sent to the glue factory and Mac finishing in last place in the NCAA basketball tournament pool.

But somehow, some way, Mac won it all this year! He actually came in first place. Knowledge of this fact punched me right in the gut and sent me wimpering under my desk. I saw Mac the other day in the hallway. He was positively beaming, flaunting his jackpot wad o' cash. Everything that I thought I knew in this world seemed to have vanished away into the aether, ... until ..., Mac bared his soul to me. It turns out that Mac was on vacation the week the completed brackets were due. In his absense, the pool organizer filled in a sheet for Mac using some fancy "computer" algorithm. (Don't worry, this option is available to all who wish to employ it.) So you see, Mac had nothing to do with his own picks. Once I found out this truth, the color returned to my face and everything was right and good in the world once again.