Saturday, January 21, 2012

No. 866 – Monkey Wrench

Performer: Foo Fighters
Songwriters: Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear
Original Release: The Colour and the Shape
Year: 1997
Definitive Version: None

Sometimes, history repeats itself. I started in news at the Flint Journal before moving to sports. In the summer of 1997, I had the chance to make a similar move at The Dispatch.

Through a series of moves, a position opened up on the copy desk in the sports department, and that seemed right up my alley. I loved working sports in Flint, and I was ready to do something else, although I didn’t have any general dissatisfaction with my job, so I applied. I knew a few of the guys on the desk from playing Fantasy Football, so I figured that wouldn’t hurt.

I got the job. Then a funny thing happened: Debbie and I went to Pittsburgh for a weekend to see a ballgame (I was in I’ll-go-anywhere-to-see-a-game mode), and all of a sudden in Three Rivers Stadium, I started to have this gnawing feeling that turned into a full-fledged panic attack the next day while driving home.

It turns out, I didn’t want to move to the sports department after all. I guess I started thinking about the job itself: It wasn’t going to be like it was at the Journal, where I had (on any given day) a ton of autonomy. In fact, I had more responsibility and autonomy in business because of my gig running BusinessToday.

Then there was the schedule. When you’re in a relationship, having a work schedule that meant you worked both Friday and Saturday nights probably isn’t such a good idea.

The panic attack wasn’t in the decision; it was from seeing whether I could back out at this point. I called my boss first thing Monday morning and went in to talk to both him and the sports editor. I blamed the easy excuse: Debbie was making me do this because of the schedule. The truth was that I didn’t want to do it after all.

I was allowed to stay where I was. The wheels had only begun to turn to replace me anyway, so it worked out for me … at first. I remember having this album on while working happily away the following Saturday—content in my decision. Sure, I burned a bridge to the sports department, but I didn’t care, because if I wanted to work there, I certainly had the opportunity.

However, what seemed to happen was that, in my opinion, I torched my future at The Dispatch by renegging. Over the next six years that I worked there, I must have applied for a half-dozen other jobs and never even got a sniff. I guess I had proven to be untrustworthy.

Interestingly, just before I left the Flint Journal, it was announced that sports was going to move from the third floor to the second. I left just before then. Just before the sports job opened up at The Dispatch, it was announced that business would move from the second floor to the fourth, and I thought I’d miss another move. I didn’t. Maybe history never repeats after all.

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