In a world similar to this one, Murray worked at a driving range, and in addition to emptying the trash and working behind the counter, he drove the golf ball picker and refilled the golf ball machines. Murray liked his job, because there was downtime during which he could read military history books. Murray loved military history.
It was when Murray was reading about the history of the Merchant Marines that he began to daydream while driving the golf ball picker. The Merchant Marines, Murray read, had, during World War 2, ferried the much needed supplies for Allied troops across the Atlantic, which was swarming with German U Boats. So treacherous were these shipping lanes that the Merchant Marines, during the war, lost a larger percentage of its ranks than any other branch of the military.
Dazzled by these feats of bravery, Murray began to fantasize, as he drove the golf ball picker, that the range was the Atlantic Ocean, the golf balls were enemy fire. To make his operation of the golf ball picker even more intense, he painted targets on its side. Then he modified the vehicle so that it travelled at the speed of a sports car, had pinpoint maneuverability, and had a passenger cab fitted with hydraulics that allowed the passenger cab to rise several feel above the suspension.
The local paper ran a story about Murray, and soon students and faculty from The United States Merchant Marine Academy were coming to the driving range not to hit golf balls, but cheer Murray on as he avoided the hail of drives that never quite seemed to hit his cab. So emboldened was Murray, in fact, that he took the protective metal grating off the cab of the golf ball picker, so that his job now carried the very real danger of physical harm. This, in turn, led to the manager of the driving range offering a prize of several thousand dollars to anyone who could knock Murray out of his seat.
So popular was Murray’s feat of bravery, that it became part of the initiation process for new students at the Merchant Marine Academy. Every August, at the start of the new school year, terrified plebes drove these modified golf ball pickers across immaculately kept driving ranges. As they swerved and dodged and moved the vehicle cab up and down, the older students hit screaming drives that whizzed past them. Those who made it to the other side received a round of applause, while those who didn’t received burial at no cost to the student’s parents.
Today in this parallel world, open carriage golf ball picking has become an extreme sport. Teams compete against each other, each side taking turns trying to knock the golf ball picker drivers out of their seats. And before every one of these tournaments, all in attendance observe a moment of silence for the servicemen and women who put themselves in harm’s way, and inspired this thrilling and demanding sport.