Saturday, September 13, 2014

Me at work

As I mentioned in a previous post, I've secured a little side gig covering high school football for the Beckley Register-Herald newspaper. It's a fun job. I'm really glad that I was considered for it and I hope this is the beginning of a healthy relationship.

Basically, here's what I do:

1) Travel to the game.

2) Watch the game.

3) Collect the statistics.

4) Talk to the coaches and players.

5) Write the story.

For those who know my history, number one is a little hard. But luckily my mom loves me, so she drives me to high school football games around the state. We'll talk more about how pathetic my life is at a later date. Number three is disgustingly hard for me. I'm just awful at it. Luckily, the coaches usually have that information for me.

What I'm good at is 4 and 5. I feel like I have a knack for asking people questions and recording their answers, then putting them into readable sentences. Occasionally, what I write can even be considered entertaining.

About the only thing I really need in order to write is a chair and a desk. Give me a place to sit and a spot for my computer and I'll crank out anything you need. 

I'm going to throw a couple pictures out here to illustrate my conditions the last couple weeks. This isn't complaining; I think it's funny. I had what I felt were less-than-ideal conditions and I feel like I made them work.

Both of these stories take place in Wyoming County, WV. For those who don't know, that's a land of no cell phone service and... that's all I'm going to say about "WyCo." If you know the area, then you know.

My friend Josh, who helped set up this writing gig for me, told me that he called one of the Vice Principals of the school and got me hooked up with a spot to write and a wifi password. As the game was winding down, I asked around and found out that there were two Vice Principals at the game. I wrote their names down and went to the concession stand area looking for them. I found one.

"Excuse me sir, are you [this guy] or [this guy]?" 

He was one of them. 

"I was told that my friend from the newspaper had spoken with you and I could have a spot to sit at to write this story about tonight's game and a wifi password."

He told me he had no idea what I was talking about. The other VP walked in. First guy said, this is a guy from the newspaper. Second guy interrupted, "Yeah, Josh talked to me. It's cool." He then walked away.

The guy who had no clue who I was asked for my computer. He punched in the wifi password. He told me I could sit outside to write my story. We're standing inside the concession stand area. There are lots of chairs and the game is over, so nobody needs anything there. I ask if I can sit in here. He says no.

I walk outside and look around. Many years of working at Pizza Hut and dealing with shipments of Pepsi two-liters and 20-oz bottles taught me that the leftover plastic crates they deliver the soda on could be turned over and made into chairs. There were several there that night. I grabbed a couple stacks and fashioned myself a crude chair and desk. I told my mom to take a picture.

So, outside by the trash I did what I needed to do. The chair was actually pretty comfortable. I used to make seats like that all the time outside at Pizza Hut.

To the next week, I was told I would need to make arrangements for a place to write and wifi. I'm at a different school in the same county. I'm sitting in the press box during the game and walk up to a guy. "Is there a wifi password I can steal from you?" He holds his hand out and I give him my phone. He punches it in for me.

As the game is nearing an end, I walk back over there with my computer. I'm looking for the same guy but can't find him. I ask the guys standing there if I can have a wifi password. One says "That's only for school-related things." I tell him who I am. Another guy just tells it to me. I thank him and ask if anybody would mind if I hung out in here after the game and wrote the story. He said he figured it would be okay.

I go do what I need to do and come back to the press box. There's another guy in there doing something radio related. He finishes up and leaves. Around 10:45 pm a guy walks into the area with me. "You're gonna have to leave" he tells me. I ask if I can have 20 minutes to write this article. "I've gotta be back here early in the morning. I gotta shut everything down." 

I tell him to let me see if I can get the wifi signal outside. I walk outside, sit down on a parking thing, play on my phone for a minute, and see that the signal works. I go back up and tell him that I can work outside.

I walk out and sit back on that parking thing. I get my computer out and start typing. My mom grabs my phone and takes a picture.

This picture was taken a couple minutes before they shut all the lights at the stadium off. Total darkness. Can't see more than a couple feet in front of me. The only light is the one coming from my computer screen, which is attracting bugs. My mom then shines her phone's light on me, creating some additional vision.

So, that's been my last couple weeks. It's been an adventure, to say the least. It definitely gives me a fun story to tell. Those guys were kind of dicks to me, but that'll happen occasionally. I have met way more nice people working these games than I have bad eggs, so I'm grateful for that. I'm having fun with it, so I don't really care where I have to sit.

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