Most people have no idea what I do or what I’ve done for nearly 40 years.
Some may point out that I don’t have a clue, either.
That could very well be the case but this is my blog. You can make fun of me on your blog.
In this post I’m going to write about a working life, one without regular hours or duties or confinement in an office or factory.
I’ll write about how fortunate I am to still be writing for money in 2014, 39 years since I received my first check, which was for covering a Boca Ciega High School football game. It might have been for $10 or $20 but I can’t remember.
I never made much money and still don’t but I make enough to keep the power on and buy groceries and some cheap wine.
I have no marketable skill or talent and am incapable of learning one. I wouldn’t last in a real job. Barista? Are you kidding? Salesman? I couldn’t sell a bottle of water to a thirsty man in the Sahara. Anything else? Not a chance.
Anything to do with useful knowledge or skill plunges me into MEGO mode.
That’s MEGO as in My Eyes Glaze Over.
So on and so forth.
So I write.
On Saturday, I worked for the Naples Daily News. On Monday it was for the Associated Press. On Friday it will be for philly.com. I’ve done dozens of stories for Florida Weekly in recent months.
I don’t want to do anything else other than write. I couldn’t do anything else. I don’t know how to do anything else. It’s all I’ve done.
From the second half of the ‘70s and on through the ‘80s and ‘90s and then the first decade of the 21st century and half of yet another decade.
Folks outside journalism can’t seem to wrap their hands around what those inside of it do.
I was talking to a tennis-playing fellow in his 60s recently. We chatted about playing tennis into old age and I told him about the time I did a story a few years ago on a 100-year-old tennis player named Roger Gentilhomme.
He was intrigued by Mr. Gentilhomme. But he couldn’t grasp the part of the story where I explained sitting in the bleachers and watching Mr. Gentilhomme play tennis for more than an hour and then interviewing him and his family. And then writing a story?
That’s the sort of thing I’ve been doing since 1975. Sitting in bleachers or press boxes or people’s living rooms or on a boat in the Ten Thousand Islands or a state prison.
Observe. Ask questions. Take notes. Try to make sense of what I’ve seen and heard.
I’ve never worked in a store or did the Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 thing or worked in a mine or factory.
I was talking to my brother the other day about a part-time gig I have this spring training for philly.com. I’ll fill in for a few Grapefruit League games doing a live chat on philly.com about a game in progress.
He thought it might be good training and perhaps lead to some other opportunity in some other field, something real. But the purpose of accepting the philly.com assignments is the work itself and, of course, the money.
Where else can one attend baseball games and get paid for that? I tried to do a good job last year for philly.com so it might lead to more work in the future. The future is now and they asked me back. I’ll try to do good work this year so they’ll ask me to work for them again in 2015 spring training.
The primary goal on every assignment is to do a good job, no matter if it’s philly.com or the AP or Florida Weekly.
I want to do a good job because I owe it to whoever is paying me on any particular assignment to do a good job.
But something else is at play here. I want to do a good job so I’ll be asked to do more stories in the future.
I want to keep doing this. There’s nothing else I can do or want to do or can imagine doing.
The reward is the work itself.
I’m now 61 and still haven’t had to get a real job.
I’m not opposed to real work. I celebrate it and am in awe of people who have real jobs. I don’t know how they do it.
I couldn’t. It’s terribly late in life to have to learn a marketable skill so I’ll continue writing.
The power is still on in my condo, there is food in the refrigerator and a cheap bottle of wine on the kitchen counter.
So all is well, 39 years after that Boca Ciega High football game.