Labor Day 2011: Let's Work This Out

One of the best things about being a sportswriter? Getting paid to go to games.

One of the worst things about being a sportswriter? Working on holidays.

Not that I'm complaining. I've got lots of media friends who are without full-time jobs, and there's nothing more stressful than trying to patch together a paycheck in this economic climate.

I cherish both my gigs. Just, um, a little less on days like this, Labor Day.

While friends are at the lake, having a pool party and just chllin', I'll be slaving away today in my lil' corner of the blogosphere and on 105.3 The Fan. Just as later this season when I'll -- thanks to the Cowboys -- work on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and -- yikes -- at 9 a.m. New Year's Day.

Again, I'm not complaining (too loudly). The Cowboys are working today at Valley Ranch getting ready for the Jets, the Rangers are playing in Tampa and SMU is vigorously trying to salvage its season in the wake of Sunday night's disaster in College Station. Tennis is on at the U.S. Open in New York and let's also hope that somewhere the NBA owners and players are working to find labor peace.

So put away the white shorts, fly your flag, celebrate the end of summer with a refreshing kiss of temperatures in the 80s and be thankful for being employed. In the past, present and hopefully future ...

1980: Rainbow Sound - Ah, the infamous summer of '80. A record 42 consecutive days over 100 degrees, a couple 110+. And where was I? Working at a Christian record company in Irving in an un-air-conditioned warehouse. In jeans. To make matters worse, my two responsibilities were to operate two machines. One was a re-grinder, where I would collect the hardened, excess vinyl scrap trimmed from the edges of records and stuff them into a machine that ground them up into re-usable, re-meltable vinyl granules. The machine was violently loud, dangerously awkward and insufferably hot. Then there was the shrink wrapper. This contraption took the albums and heated the enveloping plastic wrap to form fit the jackets. Don't remember the exact temp, but it must've been like 150ish. Best part? I stood at one end - with what felt like a hair dryer on steroids blowing on me - and was in charge of packing the steaming albums into boxes for shipping. So, see, this summer - and every one since '80, has been a breeze.


1981: Duncanville Suburban - To get my foot in door of journalism, I worked in the print shop for a summer. Running a machine that printed addresses on papers and bundling stacks of papers for delivery. Don't remember exactly how much I made per hour, but my shift was like Midnight-6 a.m. and I vividly remember going to 7-Eleven once a week and blowing my piddly paycheck on Galaga and Defender. The good news: Last week the last bit of newspaper ink finally faded from my fingers.


1982: Northside Baptist Church - Yes, I was a janitor. A month after high-school graduation. World at my feet. Hopes and dreams and ... I found myself at a janitorial convention where I traded toilet-scrubbing tips with 60-year-olds. Hated it. Every day it was clean the sanctuary, straighten hymnals, pick up trash and cake and crap from the nursery. Don't tell anyone, but I don't think I ever actually dusted anything. Worst part was every single night my job required me to clean the office: Take out the pastor's trash, make sure there was coffee for the next morning and paper for the copier, etc. Two lowlights: One day I'm attempting to buff the scuffed-up floor of the church foyer when I lost control of the buffing machine. It catches an edge, jams me in the pelvis. As I lurch back in pain it spins wildly into the wall, the handle puncturing a hole right in the front of the friggin' church entrance. I tried to cover the scar with a fake plant, but God and the Youth Director confronted me. Couple weeks later I decided to utilize the church's kick-ass sound system. With Led Zeppelin II. When Brother Stanley walked in, he was none too pleased. A-men.


1983: Construction Company - Fired when the foreman found me and a co-worker napping on a stack of sheetrock behind our model home. Only days before we had grabbed the remote control to the garage of the model-home headquarters, hid in bushes across the street and watched/giggled as he scratched his head as to why the door kept trying to shut on his mug every time he approached. Let's call it even.


1984: First National Bank - Prodded by pops to "try a real job" before I dove into journalism full-time, I drove from Arlington to Dallas every morning in a Camaro with no air-conditioning, parked in a 50-cent lot, wore a clip-on tie and took turns with a buddy being "on watch" while the other one of us caught a 5-minute nap. On my last day, I was awakened from my scheduled winks by my supervisor - who also had to rouse up my failed watchman buddy. Funny thing is, he had been on break eating a salad and awoke with dressing and a piece of lettuce stuck to his cheek. Probably best, because I really suck at math.


1985: The Shorthorn - As Sports Editor of UT-Arlington's student paper, my breaking story on the obit of the football team landed me a gig at a real, live, big-time company.


1986: Fort Worth Star-Telegram - My first story was a Dallas Sidekicks game. I had never been to an indoor soccer game before. Fortunately I can't find it.


2004: Dallas Observer - Allowed to think outside the box, color beyond the lines and use four-letter words, I jumped at the chance to be a columnist.


2008: 105.3 The Fan - A work in progress. Stay tuned.

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