What is a potus, and why would someone want that on a Bowling Shirt?
One of the most memorable days in our company’s 38-year
history happened when an order came through our website and the shipping
address was 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington DC. 20500. The year was 2002, and
our business was slowly changing from a wholesale mail order catalog business
to an internet business. Words like “e-commerce” had not been termed yet, and
the Internet was not a place that everyone had access to yet. There were less
then 3 million websites worldwide, it took 12.5 minutes to download a song on
average, and page load times averaged 16 seconds. Almost all sites were text-driven,
and there were only a few pages that displayed pictures.
As a company we were excited about every order we received
over the internet as it was a fun, new experience. But this particular order
will go down in history as one of the greatest of all times for us. The
President’s brother at the time was Marvin Bush, and that is who the order was
for. We looked at it, and thought to ourselves this must be a joke. However, we
actually did not have inventory of one of the shirts that was on the order. So
we contacted the customer, like we always do; only to find out it was no joke.
It really was the brother of the President of the United States ordering the shirts.
His secretary told us they were going to Camp David for their annual Family
Christmas gathering and that they have a family bowling tournament.
Then the unthinkable happened. Another order showed up
through our website. It had names on it Barbara, Laura etc….Yep, you guessed it, the ladies of the 1st
family ordered. It turns out their family bowling competition was guys against
the girls! These orders were rush orders, and they needed them quickly. This
was not standard operating procedure, as we had not evolved into an instant
society just yet. However, when you have an opportunity to make shirts for the
President and his family, you do whatever it takes. We ran around like chickens
with our heads cut off to make this happen in a very quick manner. We sent the
items overnight, and everyone was excited as if it were somehow patriotic we
filled this bowling shirt order correct and on time.
Several days passed, and things in the office were calm
again. We had bragged to everyone we knew that we had just sent shirts to the
President of the United States and his family. We even embroidered POTUS on one
of the shirts. It was then I learned that POTUS is the nickname/acronym for
President of the United States. Also, at the time my father was the President
of his synagogue. So he surely had told everyone in his circle of peers what
had happened at work. He was excited, and rightly so, as it was a fun time for
the company. A few more days had passed and a call came in. The person on the
phone said his name was Marvin Bush. The office assistant paged over the loud
speaker, “Alan, telephone call, line 1, it’s Marvin Bush.” Alan, thinking it
was a joke from one of his buddies he told about the orders, answered the phone
in a very professional manner, “Yo Marv what’s up?” in a manner that two frat
boys might say hello to each other when meeting at the bar for a drink. Come to
find out, it was really Marvin Bush, the President’s brother, on the phone. He
wanted to say Thanks for getting the shirts done and asked about ordering 1
more shirt. I think Alan felt slightly embarrassed at the time, but now it goes
down as one of those moments in our business we will never forget.
On a fairly
regular basis I walk through parts of our building and I see things that remind
of different times in our business. Today I just happen to be looking at the thank
you notes on letter head from the White House. The two letters from the Bush
family, one from Marvin and one from the President himself bring back these
memories and are always good for a laugh. Several years later, we made shirts
for the Obama family, but nothing will ever compare to the day my dad answered
the phone, “Yo Marv, What’s Up?!!!”