Just Another Day at the Office, Part II

March 22, 2008

The Strib had me move on to boys hoops the next week, which had me on a trip to Rogers High School for a pair of section semifinals. Google maps informs me that this was another 26-mile one-way trip. Double true. So I called up the school’s athletics director to determine what internet source they had, if any, to allow me to send in stories on deadline. First he told me they had wireless, then he called back later and told me to bring an Ethernet cord. No biggie.


I show up at Rogers 10 minutes before tip-off because I had been handling girls state basketball duties for the AP at Target Center in the afternoon – giving me a total of four games for the day. Anyway, I find the AD and ask him to show me where I should sit so that I can use the internet. He leads me to the far side of the gym, where we actually reach the end of the bleachers and then make a right towards the wall. At this point I’m getting a little worried, and sure enough, there’s the Ethernet outlet – behind the bleachers with no way to see the court. So, I plug in just to make sure the thing is working (but fail to check my Microsoft Outlook), then take a seat for the first game. It goes off without a hitch, I write my story and fill out the box score and then head to the side of the bleachers to send between games. Suddenly, an error message pops up. I can’t send any emails. I try using the Web e-mail, and that doesn’t work either. I try to make adjustments during timeouts of the first half of the second game, but nothing works. More adjustments at halftime; no dice. So in the second half, with tension now mounting because of approaching deadlines, I must sit at the table – where I can’t see the second game I’m supposed to write about – and come up with a plan. I keep the running score thanks to the PA announcer, and I judge made and missed free throws by what side of the gym cheers after each shot. Ultimately I send my story piece-by-piece via instant messenger and get to watch the second game. But the fun isn’t over yet.

I get a quick post-game interview in and begin writing my story once the final buzzer of the second game sounds with precious minutes left before my deadline. The fans poured out of the gym quickly, leaving me seated at a table next to/under the bleachers and a handful of janitorial staff to pick up after messy high school kids and parents. As I added up my box score, points were missing. In the end it turned out I just wasn’t adding properly, but as I frantically tried to solve this problem my mind blocked out the sound of an approaching leaf blower.

A few seconds later, it is raining. Well, it isn’t literally raining, I’m still fairly dry minus the sweaty shirt. However, there are bits of dust, popcorn shrapnel, Doritos, hot dog wrappers, Skittles and myriad other disgusting basketball viewing remnants streaming down onto my head and computer. I immediately start yelling, but I’m no match for the leaf blower. So I spring out of my seat and run back with my arms waving, finally grabbing the attention of the janitor with the Ghostbuster-esque pack on his back. The man is profusely apologetic and I’m not particularly angry, but I am extremely dirty and gross and have a story to finish writing.

I’d like to say that’s the last bad thing to happen to me, but after I made the 26-mile drive back home following a long day of basketball I noticed that a light bulb in the kitchen was out. So I remove the frosted glass dome and replace the bulb and attempt to put the dome back in its place. After a small turn the dome will no longer move, so I assume it is correctly in place. Instead, it was just jammed against something. So as I stood in the kitchen for a few seconds talking to the lady friend, the glass dome springs free and drops directly onto my head. Somehow it does not shatter, instead bouncing towards my girlfriend. She got both hands on it, but it was heavier than expected and slipped out of her grasp and onto the floor, where it shattered into a million pieces. Good times.


Part III coming soon…


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