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Posts Tagged ‘poughkeepsie journal’

By Bobby Calise

The below recollections share a common theme: missed opportunities.

I was in a Las Vegas casino once with a ne’er-do-well friend of mine. We were on our way out after a rough night at the blackjack tables when I lost sight of him for a few minutes. We found each other shortly after in the parking garage. He looked around furtively, then reached into his pocket and flashed two crisp hundred dollar bills. “I thought you said you lost tonight,” I said. “I did,” he replied.

The way he tells it, a drunk woman was stumbling through the casino when she dropped an armful of chips right in front of him. He knelt down to help her collect them and, as a finder’s fee, quickly pocketed two black hundred dollar chips without her noticing. She thanked him for his help and kept right on stumbling through the casino. He rushed over to the cashier window, cashed out, and scurried to the parking garage.

“Isn’t that sort of, you know, stealing?” I asked. “Well,” he paused, “I think it was God’s way of giving me a break.”

I had another theory. “What if it was a test from God? Like, if you see the chips on the floor and you don’t take any, you’ll be rewarded with an even bigger break in the future?”

He paused again, ostensibly considering what I had said. Then he replied: “Nah.”

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In college, I did a one-semester internship at the Poughkeepsie Journal as part of my journalism program requirement. Working in the sports section from 7 to 10 pm three nights a week, my job was to answer phones. Local high school coaches called in to report their team’s game scores. I took notes, turned them into short blurbs, and entered them into the computer for publication later that night. Usually around 9 pm, this guy named Pete would get up from his desk and say, “Webbing!” and then head over to another computer and work from there for a while. When I would go home at 10, he would still be sitting there.

I worked at “PoJo” for three months and never bothered to ask Pete what “webbing” was. (Whatever it was, I imagined him wearing flippers while he did it.) Turns out, he was taking all the soon-to-be-printed sports stories and was publishing them on the newspaper’s website (or, on the web)—just like I did with this very blog post, and just like most companies would like its online content writers to be able to do on their own.

Didn’t I have a couple of minutes to sit with Pete and find out what the hell he was doing back there? Even if it had turned out he was reading Spider-man comics, I could have at least looked into it. I’ve complained before on this blog about how my college experience left me largely unprepared for the working world, but the webbing thing? That’s on me.

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I played in a tennis league after college at a local club on Long Island. It was a ladder league, which meant any member could call any other member on the phone list for a match and depending on the outcome, each player would move up or down in the standings, or the ladder.

Men of all ages were eligible for the league, provided they were roughly of the same skill level. At 22, I was by far the youngest guy in the league. Usually in between sets there was a little small talk, where are you from, what do you do for a living, crazy weather we’re having.

One night I got to talking with a guy in his forties—he had been a journalism major, too. He went to the University of Miami and was one of the top writers for his college newspaper there. He said that when he was nearing graduation, he was contacted by a small company based in Connecticut about a sports reporting job. But he had never heard of the company and had no interest in moving out of New York, so he declined. The small company turned out to be ESPN.

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