#2. Golf Pro
About 15 years ago, give or take, the very idea of anyone who didn't need adult diapers playing golf was about as preposterous as downloading a 10-minute smut clip with a 56k modem before sleepy time overtook you. And then something happened, and that something was called "Johnny Humpsalot." You may know him as Tiger Woods. But let's be honest, the man parlayed a golf career into mad gash -- who ever would have imagined that happening in the history of ever? No one.
After Tiger, golf became acceptably cool. Cool enough that people who weren't constantly under the shadow of Death's clammy hands would play. And now, today, we have Dan MacLaughlin, a guy who quit his job in 2010 for the following reason -- he believed that, even with no prior experience golfing, if he spent 10,000 hours practicing, he could become a champion golf pro.
Dan had read that 10,000 hours of practice in anything could make someone an expert. So he dropped his job with a plan to play golf, something he didn't even have an interest in. Try to fathom what kind of head space a man must be in to not just drastically change direction in life, but do so to test someone else's theory on something you don't even give a shit about.
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"Welp, I'm a golf pro now. Fuck."
For six hours a day, six days a week, over six years, Dan golfs. This is the important place where we need to stop and take a step back and ask the question that Dan may have never asked himself: Huh?
Dan is only midway through his experiment, and all signs indicate he's become quite a good golfer. Could he topple Tiger in another three years? The bigger question may be does anyone, including Dan, even care? Suppose he proves the theory true, that you can in fact master anything after 10,000 hours of practice. So what, exactly? How many people are now going to dedicate six years of their lives to something, somehow? How many people can afford to do that? Of course you're going to become good at something after 10,000 hours, is this going to make a difference in the world? And what about Dan? He doesn't even like golf. Does 10,000 hours of practice make you love golf or resent it?
I'm no psychologist, but I think that, by the time Dan's experiment is done, he will be one hell of a golfer and one hell of a bored, depressed, directionless man. He will have dedicated six years to becoming the best at something he had no interest in and will now have six hours a day to dedicate to drinking away the memory of spending six years mastering something toward no end whatsoever beyond proving a point only he seems to want to prove.
#1. The End of the World
Probably the shittiest day of the year is Rapture Day, because it constantly screws you over. Even if it goes off without a hitch, it means the world ended. If it doesn't happen and you believe in it, you get made fun of for the remainder of this article.
If you recall your apocalypse misfires, you'll know that May 21, 2011 was supposed to be the end of the world, according to Harold Camping, the perennial downer who keeps wrongly predicting the End Times. Someone needs to buy that dude a new Magic 8-Ball. Of course, Camping predicting the end of the world and messing up isn't so ridiculous on its own; the problem arises when people believe him for some reason and set about preparing to ascend to heaven. And then it doesn't happen.
Camping himself raked in literally millions of dollars in donations leading up to the end of the world (his second of three failed predictions, incidentally), while on the other end of the spectrum you have the people who foolishly believed in him, like Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent his entire $140,000 retirement fund on subway ads to alert people to their impending doom. Adrienne and Joel Martinez quit their jobs to hand out pamphlets to the doomed masses and budgeted their savings so they would have no money left to their name on Judgment Day. Adrienne was pregnant, and they already had a 2-year-old daughter. She was going to go to medical school but decided against it, since the world was ending.
"I have nothing left to live for, bring on the apocalypse!"
A common theme among those who lost everything on a false prophet was that they couldn't afford to doubt. Because what if it were true? That's how they look at the world. The rest of us probably think they're crazies who maybe even deserve what they got, but in reality they're just confused people who need to believe in something and made a poor choice. They were exploited by a rich, old asshole who's still rich and still an asshole and still very much not flying a spaceship made of unicorns in heaven or whatever he told people was going to happen.
In the aftermath, few media sources ever bothered to check out what happened to the bankrupt followers of Harold Camping, other than a few recaps of messages that came into Camping's radio station that included the word "shit" a few more times than you'd expect from religious people. Camping decided the new end of the world would be October 21, 2011, and most of his followers accepted that, yes, that had been the correct date all along, and May 21 was just the day it began ... somehow. Hopefully the people who were all out of money at that point had some good panhandling skills.
Ultimately, what became of Camping's followers was that many were left bankrupt, separated from friends and family who thought they were crazy to risk their lives and their children's lives on the shit-ass prophecy of a man who couldn't predict a boner at a strip club while handing out free Viagra.