Updated: Jun 14, 2019
*There is going to be a lot of changing of tenses in this read...and probably in most things that get written in this blog and on the site. I am already questioning the header and after staring at it for 15 minutes I am saying screw it and letting it roll. That being said, if you are some english/grammar/spelling/hooked on phonics savant, I am saying this now. I do not care if I am talking in the past tense, 3rd person or using the spelling of "your" for "you're". I didn't care in school, I should probably care now but just let it ride and deal with it.
OK. With that being said....
Hey. How are ya? Good, that is great to hear. Here are some little tidbits about me...if you care to know. Which I am assuming you do because you clicked to read.
I am a New York Giants, Rangers and Knicks fan (light on the Knicks). My MLB team is the Baltimore Orioles. With college football, I ruin the months Sept to Dec for my girlfriend because of Penn State and the same could be said for Nov through March because of ***Gonzaga.
I was born in Maryland. Experienced my childhood years in "central" (not Princeton) New Jersey. Made my life long high school friend living in Las Vegas. Decided to go to college back in Maryland as my parents picked up and moved to Chicago all while spending miscellaneous holidays in Pennsylvania.
I am not even going to try to make all the connections because that is a whole other blog post...
***"Oh you are such a front-runner rooting for Gonzaga. You're not even from Spokane or Washington for that matter. How can you even be a fan?" Well my friend, let me tell you. I have been a Gonzaga fan since I was 6 years old living in New Jersey. Why? I haven't a clue. The only explanation is I liked the name. And for you good catholics out there, made it my confirmation name in the 8th grade. But when you dress up as Dan Dickau for the fourth grade Halloween parade or take a train by yourself into Newark on Tuesday school night to see them play at Continental Airlines Arena (RIP) or strategically go to bed at 9pm only to then have your parents wake you up at 12am so you can watch their game or quite literally almost ruining your relationship with your girlfriend because they blew a 12 point second half lead to Syracuse in the elite eight to end their opportunity at a first final four appearance...then you try telling me I am front-running/fair weather fan. I dare you. But I digress.***
Baltimore, MD has been home since graduation with an almost potential move to Charleston, SC. I tell my girlfriend she better thank the Baltimore Orioles for putting a stop to that potential life altering move. Why? Happy you asked. Imagine walking in downtown Charleston. It's late February. 70 degrees, sunny and absolutely beautiful. Oh you can't? Here, let me help...
Now back in Baltimore...
When February rolls around it's cold. It's dark. It's gloomy. It's snowy. I am working at a job that I am pretty sure was not even paying me minimum wage if you broke everything out. And now, I had a paid trip down to South Carolina where I was offered the job on the spot which came with a yuuuge salary bump. One could say I was dancing on sunshine. So I was thinking (as I purchased an absurdly overpriced and obnoxiously bright vineyard vines button up as a present for myself) "Ryan, Rebecca will be OK with this" but knowing all too well that was not true at all. But as I frolicked around the streets of my potential new home like a giddy little pre-teen about to see Taylor Swift for the first time, my phone starts to ring. I don't answer. It rings again, and again, I do not answer. Side note - I am not good at answering calls. I blame that trait on my father. Anyway, fourth time must have been the charm because I pick up.
Guy on phone:"Hi Ryan, this is Ryan"
Guy on phone: "Its Ryan"
Me: "Umm, ok"
Long story short, "Other Ryan" was my "account manager" from the Orioles calling about renewing my season ticket package for the next year. Hand up, had no idea I had an account manager. And hand up again, I actually don't think I really had/have an account manager. You see, when you have the cheapest package with the worst seats in the worst section, you generally do not get that type of service. In all reality, he was probably just an intern they had calling because I needed to pay my deposit. So there I am. At the crossroads of my life. Move and leave Baltimore behind to have a great job with substantially more money... and I get to live in Charleston. Or pay the deposit, fly back to Baltimore, and go back to my insufferable job...but I get to stay with my girlfriend (love you babe!). Well Rebecca, you better thank your lucky stars "Other Ryan" didn't give up on my first, second or third ignored call. But enough about that. Let's get back to talking more about me!
*Reader note: As a disclaimer (and to not get my butt kicked), Rebecca was the main reason I stayed.
Hobbies? I really only read on vacation. And that's more of a contest with the girlfriend to see who reads more in a week (spoiler, I win). TV? Meh, I guess. But who doesn't. Gambling? Can neither confirm or deny because my mother could be reading this. I guess maybe golf, but I suck at it. When the only score I stop caring about is the number of balls I lose, then I may consider it a hobby. Cooking? Sure, but there is the purchasing and cleaning up that is usually the limiting factor. I do partake in organized exercise classes focused on functional everyday movements. But contrary to popular belief, I am one of those people who try to keep that to myself. So moving on from there...
I am the proud father of not-so-mini but technically miniature golden doodle named Cody. He's a stud. And yes, I know he looks like a teddy bear. Thats why *I/we got him. So keep the compliments coming.
*This is one of those areas where I mention at the start of the blog where grammar was going to be a struggle. Also trying to incorporate the lady friend in this story makes things tricky. Do I just say "I"? Do I just say "we"? Will the reader know who "we" is? Do I need to explain Rebecca? Do I call her Rebecca or just stick with girlfriend? Does the reader know enough for me to transition naming from girlfriend to Rebecca? My mind is in a pretzel and I could possibly be in the dog house with Cody if you-know-who gets offended by this.
So now you know me. Let me tell you how and why I decided to start Tailgate Professional.
It was around this time last year when I was sitting at Handle Bar Cafe down in Fells Point with Rebecca (made the decision to switch from girlfriend to Rebecca). If you haven't been, I highly recommend. Pizza, burritos, beer and coffee. Pretty much all you need in life. So as previously mentioned, I have superior reading skills. However, Rebecca is still much much smarter than I and is currently getting her MBA (has a 4.0...NBD). So while we were there (another side note - during the school year, every weekend we pick a place to do work) she was doing some classwork. And I? Good question. Man you guys are just full of them! At first I didn't do much. Pretty much went along just to eat. But then I started to feel kinda worthless and decided to do some little things. Pay some bills, etc. But the feeling of semi-accomplishment only lasted so long before the worthlessness started to set back in. So on this particular day, I decided to start to figure out what I wanted to do with my career as I entered the back half of 20s. I graduated college with a marketing degree. Worked in marketing/advertising agencies on digital side as quality assurance analyst, project manager and now technical analyst at a local financial institution. Do I go back to school to get an MBA? In marketing, why? I can confidently say that I have not and will not use one part of my degree (memorizing the 4 P's has really been coming in handy, let me tell you). Go back to school for another career? Computer Science? I do work with developers everyday and took a few weekend courses. But did I really want start from zero and have to work my way back up the job totem pole? I know, let me get a certification for project management! Oh wait, I still need to wait another year. Things were not looking promising for your boy.
So while sitting there, eating the best/worst pizza in Baltimore (*the pizza is actually very good, but if you want traditional NY Pizza then this is not your place...nor anywhere in the Baltimore area) I started to think, why not try to take a chance on actually doing something I actually like to do. Now, this is not me trying to do the whole, "Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life" thing. If I did what I loved, that would be me being a bench coach for the Orioles making a couple million to sit on my butt, spit some seeds and watch baseball.
This was more of, I had worked for a variety of companies, bosses, supervisors, etc. And quite frankly, I was driven nuts by the way most operated and ran their/the business. At the same time, I knew I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to create something. And most importantly, I knew to be able to do that, I needed to do it myself. Because in all honesty, kissing ass is not my forte and calling a spade a spade, that is the only way to get ahead in the majority of companies. And I absolutely knew I could not do that. "Hey Bob! How was the weekend with the fam! HAHA Oh little Joey scored a goal in his soccer game? They are just growing up so quick!" Yeah...no way jose.
I needed to figure out what I could do to be the head honcho but on my terms. Doing things my way. Implementing the lessons and ideas from my previous jobs while also not doing the stupid crap from my previous jobs that made me want to lose my mind. So what to do? Open an marketing agency? Couldn't even type that with a straight face. Open my own pizzeria-karaoke bar? Well now we're talking! But my CFO/girlfriend shot that down. So I had to think about what I am passionate about. What do I like to do? What am I good at? And if you remember all the hobbies I didn't have, you could see I was kinda working with nothing. Open a Crossfit gym... I mean "box"? Crossfit Federal Hill is already doing amazing things and I would be out of business in a week. Open a bookstore, come up with the next Netflix? I was drawing a blank at every turn. But then it hit me...
And when I say hit me, I mean I looked down at the stack of papers/bills I brought to pay. Of which one was an E-ZPass toll violation from a tailgating trip to Delaware at Dover International Speedway. And while I should have been pissed at my buddy's stupidity of blowing the toll (I was asleep), I finally had my bingo moment...
So from there I started calculating, planning and strategizing. Determining how I could turn tailgating, something so simple, done by almost anyone with a brain, into a legitimate business. Over the years between college friends, family and co-workers, I was the guy who always planned the event. I was always the guy organizing where we were going, how we were getting there, how much it costs, making sure we had all the the right supplies, etc. It could be the OCD or the project manager in me. But it has never has been something I disliked doing. Quite frankly, I enjoyed it. In some sick way, staying up past midnight after working all day then going to the gym followed by running the numbers on how to corral 12 buddies from 6 different states and determining/researching the best lots to park in and making sure we have the right equipment, RV, games, food, etc. really gets my juices going. But at the end of the day I am just too damn good at it. Its quite literally a gift. God did not make me intelligent enough to be an A+ student, athletic enough to play professional sports or handsome enough to act, that all went to that other Ryan...
...talk about a snack. mmmm
But for some reason he blessed me with the talents of cooking a perfect bratwurst and sniffing out the perfect corner spot just close enough to the porta potty but far enough at the same time. I don't ask questions. I just do what the big man put me on this earth to do.
Furthermore, there are so many little nuances and logistics to planning tailgates. It's like playing a real life game of chess. And if I were to let the planning up to someone else, they would think its just a friendly game of checkers. No bueno. Lets take for example tailgating for a Baltimore Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium. There are so many different scenarios out there but for the sake of this blog (as it being an intro rather than a "how-to") I will limit it to two use cases. Case numero uno would be that of them looking to buy a parking pass. I am willing to bet my $2000 hypoallergenic/designer dog they would log onto StubHub, see the following price, and then proceed to purchase without realizing two things. One, the parking spot is in a parking garage. Two, the parking garage is a mile away from the stadium. "Oh, psh Ryan, look how cheap and easy that is"...
Numero dos is where the research and overall expertise comes into play. Trust me, I know that is a preposterous line. Again, I know it is not rocket science. Maybe I just have phenomenal common sense? Contrary to popular belief, not all parking lots are made the same. Especially around M&T Bank Stadium. Some are big. Some are small. Some are a brisk two minute walk to the gates, while others you may need to leave the night before the game. Some are wide open exposing you to mother nature, while some are covered thus protecting you from the elements. And one very important thing to note, none of the lots allow canopy tents. That last part is huge. This time I am willing to bet no one would know or know to search for that little fact. Because say you are going to the game. And since you are a very thorough person, you look at the 10-day forecast. Game-day weather prediction? Rain. Well what happens you might ask? You get soaked. Unless you are a, tailgate professional (see what I did there?) and you strategically purchased parking in Lot H or G. You see, as one of Baltimore greatest infrastructural feats, they have a one mile stretch of highway that funnels drivers off of I-95 right into downtown. And this concrete vortex just so happens to sit over two tailgate lots, thus protecting you from the H20 or sun rays if your not into that type of thing.
Now I am going to say this. This is not something I see myself turning into a multi-million dollar company. It is not going to be on Shark Tank. Its not going to be the next Air B&B or Uber. I am not trying to compete nor cater my services against Baltimore Around Town or Jimmy's Famous Tailgate.
What I want to do is a few things:
Provide a service for a group of people, wether they are local or visiting from out of town, that would be just like a traditional tailgate. It is not meant to be a massive gathering or party... but it could be depending on who your friends and family are. It is not meant to be a $40 all you can eat and drink...again it could be depending on who you invite (I am not here to judge). But for me, it is meant for people who do have the equipment or time to put on a tailgate. It is meant to take all the head-aches and planning out of the equation thus allowing you to sit back and relax.
Provide an experience for a group that they will never forget. Cheesy, I know. But it's true. Because, who doesn't like a good old group Instagram pic.
Allowing myself to create something from nothing....and fingers crossed, being successful (or at least breaking even).
So that's Ryan in a nutshell. Trust me, there is plenty more. Some good. Some interesting. A lot not so interesting. But hopefully I have the opportunity to get to know a little more about you and help in organizing a tailgate in the near future.