Blue collar jersey: Jared Lintner

Editor's Note: Jared Lintner is off to a strong start in 2014. After three Elite tournaments he's in second to Mark Davis in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race. Lintner is sometimes called "The Milkman" on stage. Here's more details on him, and how he earned that nickname.

 

“He's givin' his all, makin' ends meet…”

Dateline:  Brett & Shirley’s kitchen

I grew up living next to an American Hero.

His name was Lou,

and he poured

concrete.

Lou had two kids, one of each, a mother-in-law in his basement, a Beagle that ate my mother’s tomatoes and a 1960 Ford Falcon that played 1975 songs.

Lou poured the stadium that the Buffalo Bills call home, Lou poured the floor that my Father stood on when he sold refrigerators at Sears Roebuck.

Lou poured the hospital wing he died in.

Lou was 5/3 – 5 feet tall, 3 feet wide, a fire hydrant in painters’ bibs.

Lou poured the slab next to his garage, “for the boat.”

But first, came pouring money into college, then came pouring more money into college, then came, the heart attack.

And the slab next to the garage stood empty, may still be as far as I know.  Both of my parents have since died, as well; it’s not a street I want to drive down.

The last time I saw Lou was when I brought my newly printed University of Buffalo degree over to show my parents.

We were sitting on the slab next to the garage downing beer and wings, “I poured lots of dem buildings over dere Donnie.”

“I know.”

“Poured them for you, for my kids, not so much for me.”

“Does that bother you?”

“Nah.”

Lou closed up the case that my diploma was in and handed it back to me saying, “I done good, Donnie, done good for my family, that’s as good as a college degree to me.”

That diploma is still hanging on my wall at home, along with my college ring in a box on my bedroom dresser, but the most important thing I may have from that university sits on my home office desk,

sitting all by itself in a corner of the desk,

is a tiny piece of

concrete.

Poured by the American Hero who lived next door.

“…they may not have much…”

We, the media, have somehow lost track of Lou.

To me, the greatest American story is that of the working stiff.  No offense but do we really need another “Shark Week”…what about a week of Lou.

The American story has to be about substance, not flash, who cares if you say yes to the dress, what you have to say is yes to your family.

Let me ask you this, what do you know about the person who empties your wastebasket at work…do you even know their name.

You should.  Their story is just as important as the latest Hollywood brat’s arrest.

What about the guy who changes the oil in your car or the voice you can’t understand coming from the drive-through speaker.

Are we missing the greatest, if not most relevant, stories in our lives because they don’t come wrapped in Gucci.

We are not a country of Kings and Queens. We are a country of working stiffs, built not by suits but by sweat.

If you don’t have dirt under your fingernails, you need to roll up your sleeves and get involved.

Waddington, N.Y. … I have spent the last couple of days shaking your hand, and it is the hand of my father, it is the hand of Lou, it is the proud hand of the folks who gave, so we could get.

At launch this morning, the fine folks of Waddington came out, came out at 5:30 a.m. on a Thursday morning to stand on the banks and watch the Elite anglers take off on the first day of the tournament.

I stood with the folks of Waddington, heard them talking about coming to the launch before work…work as a cashier, an insurance guy, an auto mechanic, an engineer and a guy who strings the line that brings the power to your home.

This won’t make the news, no flash, just substance, but I was humbled by the folks of Waddington who showed as much respect for the Canadian national anthem being sung as they did our own ode to America.

Crowd diplomacy sung on key.

Hey Waddington, when you have no control over the grander scheme of things yet you continue to make ends meet, you continue to raise children with values of faith, family and flag…you folks,

too, are

American Heroes.

And I want you to meet another one, just like you…in fact, this morning, he took off right from your dock, his name is Jared Lintner, and in real life he is,

an Elite Angler and,

a milkman.

“…but he gets what they need…”

When Jared Lintner is introduced on stage many times he is called, The Milkman, and rightly so…the dude is in real life…a milkman.

Delivers milk to schools and businesses in California where he lives with his wife of 17 years, Keri, and their 3 children.

“My grandfather, Dennis, started the milk business, Lintner & Sons, 55 years ago in the San Luis Obispo area where we live.”

Jared’s milk route runs “55 miles taking care of restaurants, schools and stores.”

It’s a family business. His father, Dan, runs it now; his brother and sister are in the business with just one other employee, who isn’t a family member.

“It’s been great for me. My father has always said he doesn’t care how you do it as long as you get the job done; so when I was younger I would always work it out that I could get everything finished with enough time for me to jump in my car and drive up to Clear Lake and fish for bass.”

Jared launched today at 6:30 a.m.…which to be honest…is THREE HOURS later than his normal starting time.

“When I do the milk runs I get up at 3:15 a.m., get to the warehouse by 3:45 a.m. …load the truck and leave to make the runs by 4:30 a.m.”

Jared delivers to “18 schools every day but we can’t get there until 5:30 a.m. when the janitor shows up, if the janitor is late, we’re …”

As many of you working stiffs know, when you work for a small, family-run outfit, even the slightest little thing going wrong can have a huge impact on making ends meet,  “I never used to know how to fix trucks, but now…now…”

“…we call it LintnerRigging…” says Keri…

“…now I’ve come to lovin’ it being my own shade tree mechanic…”

“…or roadside breakdown lane mechanic…” adds Keri…

“…yeah, we do a lot of truck fixin’ by ourselves.  Can’t afford bringing it to someone else to fix.”

“…with the hands…”

Jared and Keri and their family drove to Waddington from California, some 3,073 miles.

Lots of windshield time, lots of talk time.

To be honest with you, the last couple of years on the Elite tour has not been kind financially to the family; they have pretty much done a bunch of “LintnerRigging” just to stay on the tour.

I’m not going into detail about their issues; they are great friends of mine and whether holding back stuff is not journalistically correct, it is what a friend would do, so I’m doing it.

“It comes down to this, db,” both Jared and Keri are sitting in front of me last night after registration. Jared is doing most of the talking. You can feel his hurt; you can feel her love and support.  “The milk business is a guaranteed check; doing what I love, Elite fishing, is not.”

You need to know these are not high paid whiny athletes; it is why I like the sport and the athletes as much as I do. After covering the whine for so long, the honesty of the working stiff, the love of the sport that comes from a working stiff athlete is pretty much a blessing.

“But, db, my father is getting older, wants to retire, wants to turn the business over to me and my siblings or, if I can’t do it, sell the business that his father started.”

I say nothing as Jared and Keri look at each other, then both turn to look at me as Jared has a hard time saying, “…it tears you up.”

Don’t have an answer for him, what I think or would do, what you think or would do, not really in play, some would pick door “A,” some would pick door, “B.”

I once told a pro-athlete friend of mine who was thinking of retiring that, “The hardest thing Superman does, is hanging up the cape.”

And,

that one of the things I most value in life,

is a tiny,

crumbling,

piece of concrete.

“…of a working man.”

“Hands of a Working Man”

Ty Herndon

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