Not Rain, Sleet, Snow Nor Floyd or Lance’s Yellow
I am a casual observer.
As a photographer I get to see both private and public moments. Sometimes in a course of a career you come by a certain combination of events that provides you a unique perspective because you’ve been closer to it, kept an eye on it, from the inside. Career paths transition, transform you, and you take lessons from your surroundings
What am I writing about, well, it’s about the major sponsor of Lance Armstrong’s cycle team, the United States Postal Service. So it was in those years from 1997 to 2004 part of a long career with the U. S. Postal Service (USPS) that beckons remembrances from the closet.
Months ago I predicted here on MCM that Armstrong would skate (roll away), that the USADA investigation would falter, and the larger world cycling bodies politic would rectify this mess. That is until Lance changed all that in his January 13, 2013 interview with Oprah.
I am writing a multi-part blog. A historical perspective giving those readers who can’t get enough of this Armstrong saga an insider’s view of things postal “blue train”. Far from the mountains and valleys of France.
Why? Because maybe writing is a bit cathartic, it makes me feel good. And then again maybe, just maybe, there is another side of this Armstrong saga that never gets told because it’s not about Lance. It’s about people trying to do what’s right and how too many outside influences change the way an organization operates or how it is perceived, then and now.
To tell this part of the story I do so mostly through recollections and some supposition that colorize the gray areas that made the postal “blue train” more than just a bike race.
You the reader need to know this much that during Lance’s Tour de France years I, like him was employed by the US Postal Service (USPS). Me, a full time career employee and him, his teammates and managers, they were subcontractors.
During those tour years from 1998 to 2003 while Lance and friends were riding the Postal blue train I worked at USPS HQ in Customer Relations/Marketing, Operations, Sales and Marketing and later in Strategic Planning. It was in the latter two areas that paths would cross with peers, managers, associates, and in related contract alliances that crafted my present day view.
Know these simple things, which I will explain later in upcoming blogs
- It’s all about “the brand” and it started with something strange called the “Beak in the Box”.
- Next, comes the money. It’s always about the money.
- And whether it will ever be realized or not – the Postal Service pulled off the biggest corporate-sport sponsorship coup of the 21st century.
Lastly, it should be known that I am not a big fan of Lance, though my friends may think so. I was just guilty by a work association and my bicycle.
Do I think he was a cheat, a liar, and a bully? To answer, it does not really matter what I think. I just know that his accomplishments in cycling and elsewhere made many of us USPS employees proud, made cyclists out of some of us, even made all work with a higher purpose/goal in mind. But ultimately he left us betrayed. No apologies. Nada, not one.
He casually wore a symbol that many wear on a daily basis to drive around your neighborhoods in a vehicle(s) or push carts with that symbol emblazed on all things postal.
He showed disrespect.
Next week: next up is Part 1 of the multi-part blog titled – The Beak in the Box