Let's say you're sitting at your desk at the Acme Widget Co. You're happy. You like your job. Like your coworkers. Like the city. Just bought a house. Boss says you're doing a good job.
Except now the personnel manager walks in and says, "Pack your stuff. You're moving to Milwaukee. Tonight."
You're stunned. You won't even have time to say goodbye to your friends. You'll have to pay someone to move your Buick and all your stuff. You'll have to sell the house, get a new bank account, stop the newspaper delivery. How are you going to tell your girlfriend? Either you move or you get out of the lucrative widget game entirely—and make one hundredth of what you're making now.
So you go. You're in Milwaukee for five months. You're happy, until the boss walks in and says, "Pack up. You're moving to Orlando. Tonight."
You go to Orlando. Six months later it's on to Denver. Then Miami. Then Cleveland. You go. You go. You go. If you don't go, then you don't work. You're beginning to hate widgets.
Welcome to the life of NBA power forward Chris Gatling, who has been traded more often than Yahoo! stock. He has been traded seven times in five years. Seven! He's been traded four times in the last year and a half! "I know what my next tattoo is going to be," says Gatling. "A little Bekins moving van. Right on my butt."
The U.S. Post Office is about six change-of-address cards behind on Gatling. His mother isn't quite sure where he is. He doesn't even get telephones installed in his apartments anymore. He just has a cell phone.
Come to think of it, Gatling gave up getting apartments. He stays in hotels. All the time. Road hotels. Home hotels. Road room service. Home room service. If he ever got a real phone, he'd probably dial 9 for an outside line.
Right now he's staying at the Residence Inn in Cleveland, after racking up checkout bills the size of the Pentagon Papers at hotels in Miami, Denver and Milwaukee. Sure, the Cavaliers' general manager told Gatling, "Relax—you're home now," but Gatling stopped trusting general managers a long time ago.
The last time he trusted one was in Dallas, in 1997. The man said Gatling was part of the family there. Why wouldn't he be? He'd just made the All-Star team! So he built the house he never had as a kid—wine cellar, big Jacuzzi, everything. The Mavericks traded him to the New Jersey Nets in midseason.