Will the Real Thomas J. Smrt please stand up!

When I saw a similar ad  for a Video Engineer/Editor on Monster.com, from Fox Valley Farms, I couldn't send in my resume fast enough.  Thomas J. Smrt called me the next day and relived his insane brand of philosophy on just about every subject in the world, from religion to politics and everything in between.  Unlike last time,  Mr. Smrt called me at 11:00 in the morning (a much more user-friendly time of the day).  He told me he was interested in talking to me because I used to work for that "Pollack company" (sic),  A.K.A. Swiderski Electronics and they (according to Smrt) "... sold a lot of good stuff (video equipment)" .  

He controlled every aspect of the conversation, asking me how old my children are and how many Excel spread sheets I have made ("A million?" he  asked.  When I answered "no", he said "good".  "A hundred thousand?", he asked.  Again, I answered with a no.  I tried to tell him that I used to teach Excel classes for New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, but he didn't want to hear that.  We finally settled on a thousand as the amount of Excel spread sheets I created.  He determined  that I created "a spread sheet a day for 5 years".  Then he asked me if he knew how he figured that out.  He said "there are 250 work days in the year, 

Inside the Belly of the Beast - My afternoon with Thomas J. Smrt

and 5 times 250 is 1,000".  I sat at awe and wonder at how obtuse he was.  What was to say that I didn't do 5 spread sheets a day for a year?  What would happen to his logic if I  created a spread sheet on my day off?  Who cares how many spread sheets ANYONE has EVER created?

He revisited  his tirade about how  "American students don't learn  s*it in school". He told me that 85% of all elementary school and middle school teachers are criminals.  He determined that because 85% of all teachers are women, and women don't know what "...a little boy wants".  He said "a little boy wants to go into business for himself".  I thought that he hasn't spent much time lately with little boys, because most of the boys that I know don't even know what it means to go into business for themselves.  He said that "women can't teach a boy how to go into business for themselves (because they are women, I guess), therefore little boys have to learn that on the job".  The inference I extrapolated was that "women can't teach boys, because boys want to go into business and since women are not boys, they can't teach boys - anything.  By far, I found that to be  the lost lopsided syllogism I have ever heard.    

I had another call come in and I clicked over.  When I went back, he hung up.  When I called him back, he told me he had thrown my resume away, assuming that I "...didn't want to hear (his) voice anymore".  Something tells me that a lot of other  people got tired of listening to his insane machinations and hung up on him. 

The Interview

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet this enigmatic man.  I accomplished my  goal by sitting mute while he rambled through an insane diatribes for  two and a half hours.  He drove me around his entire farm, a massive piece of land west of the Shireland property.  Like the "little boy" that he claims to be, he seems to enjoy buying things, playing with them for a while and then abandoning them.  Although, just like another insane genius (Howard Hughes), he never disposes of anything - he puts them in storage.  We passed the massive sheds that contained the dragons from Shireland.  I asked what the 6 or 7 trailers were that we passed.  He told me they were "...the sh*t houses from Shireland".  Why he kept that stuff, I do not know.  The property was littered with trucks, plows and even houses on ponds that he alleged built - that no one lives in.  

Our conversation would go from how he wants to create DVDs that will promote family values and send them to non-profit organizations all over the world to how the Moslems are trying to take over the world by having 6 to 7 children, while we in the United States cap off our child production at 2 or 3.   

 He talked about being in the Army in the 1950's, donating horses to the military in the 1980's and the present day as through they were all happened at the same time.   He told me how  he grew up with no father and how his mother was "cock-crazy" which led to him having a series of of stepfathers.  One stepfather in particular who would tie him up and gag him and hang him and his 3-years old sister upside down in a closet (heck of a thing to tell someone in a job interview!).  

I had to tread lightly when it came to asking questions about Shireland, because Smrt is a very volatile man.  He did say that "Shireland broke me emotionally and every other way".  He said that one thing that led to his emotional break-down was the protesters that there were at the park at the day it  opened.  It seemed that a rival  group of horse breeders tried to quash his efforts (according to him.  That was the first time I had ever heard such a story).  I asked him how many people worked at Shireland and he answered "100".  When I acted surprised, he said, "well, maybe 50."  I concluded that dealing with the employees and general public was more than he was willing to take.  He concluded by saying that he  wants to make videos about Shireland, but didn't know what he would do with it once it was completed.

What Did I learn?

Many things made more sense to me after meeting Thomas Smrt.  The first thing was that he had an unhappy childhood, which explains why he created an idyllic settings like Shireland.  He had an unhappy school experience, largely because he needed to learn in an alternative learning environment, where he could be involved in "problem-based learning" - type scenarios.  Having said that, I don't think such practices existed when he was in school.  He is a self-made man, and has been able to make his millions on his own terms, a condition that he does not want to sacrifice in anything that he does.  That is a  consideration that has alienated him from many opportunities.  He, however, doesn't realize that he is unique and that most people don't have his intelligence, his fortitude or his iconoclasm to want to forge their way into the world alone as he has.  Finally, he is so intelligent that his mind is restless.  He has to be involved in things to keep himself occupied and happy.  

Possibly the biggest thing that I learned through all of this is that if Smrt would have closed the park in 1991 and yanked down all of the buildings, none of these web sites (mine included) would have never been created.  Shireland would have been a distant memory, like Garfield Goose or Commando Cody.  The abandoned buildings themselves was the very thing that kept Shireland alive in our minds. Sadly, Shireland, like George Bailey from "It's a Wonderful Life" is more popular dead than alive!

 Anyone who is so brash, so needy to spread his bizarre message and so powerful, due to his wealth, is going to step on toes.  The following pages will document other peoples' experiences.  Read On:

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