We had a weird experience last week. Mrs. Poolman and I were over at Poolboy’s condo for dinner when Mrs. P’s cell phone rang. It was one of our friends asking if I were OK. There was a rumor sweeping the hospital where they work that “The Poolman” had died suddenly that afternoon. I pinched myself and then asked Poolboy a question to make sure I was still really there. (Remember “The Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis.) Once I confirmed I really was alive and breathing, I started wondering which of the other “The Poolman”s in town had deceased. The next morning I discovered it was the many I jokingly referred to as “my evil twin.”
We were never very close, but we had a long, and incredibly coincidental relationship.
We first encountered each other in 1984. I was a TV news director in Nashville. I read in one of the trade journals that another “The Poolman” had recently been promoted to news director at a station in Kansas City. I wrote him a letter (This was before e-mail, twitter, Facebook, etc.) to congratulate him.
“I hope you do well, so anyone who confuses us will also think well of me.”
Several months later, we met in person at an ABC affiliate news director’s meeting. A couple of years after that, again at a news directors’ meeting, we met on a sidewalk in Salt Lake City. Our conversation turned to family history and, to both of our surprises, we discovered we grew up with a few blocks of each other in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon. He was about six years older than I, so we weren’t there at the same time. By the time, my family moved back about the time I was starting high school, he was already off at college.
We ran into each other from time to time in the world of television news. In 1992, I moved to the CBS station in Savannah. In 1995, I returned from lunch one day to find people in the newsroom acting strange towards me. I pulled someone over and asked them what was going on.
“Well, Poolman, your secret is out. We all know you are moving across town to the competition.”
“They announced it to the staff this morning. The Poolman is the new news director at the NBC station.”
I knew immediately what was going on. So for the next five years My Evil Twin and I competed directly with each other as rival news directors with the same name at TV stations in the same town.
We both left our respective stations around the same time in the early 2000s, and both stayed in Savannah. My Evil Twin, aka “the other Poolman” ended up with two tours of duty at the third station in town. So we continued to run into each other until he got out of the business entirely a couple of years ago.
His death leaves just three “The Poolman”s left in Savannah. So to quote Mark Twain, “Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.” — hopefully, for some time to come.