As I’m sitting here at my desk resigned to working all weekend, I thought back to one Memorial Day when I was at the Observer-Dispatch. I had to work that day, and a few days before I decided to hold a Memorial Day cookout while on the job.
If you knew me then, you knew that between Beth Mundschenk and I, we had to always keep ourselves (and coworkers) entertained by doing something unorthodox. On any given day you could find the two of us at work with a mischievous twinkel in our eyes, always up to no good, whether on duty and off duty. My mostly silent partner in crime happen to be off that day, so I was flying solo.
I had an hibachi in our photo studio there that i had used for a photo prop that I thought I’d fire up and cook some meat on. I asked everyone on the schedule for the day to bring in a dish to pass, and that i would take care of everything else.
After covering the annual parades and cemetery services, I hurried back to work and took care of business. Everyone, except News Editor Russ Davis brought something in to share. On the front sidewalk on Oriskany Blvd, in broad daylight, in the middle of the afternoon on that hot sidewalk, I fired up the hibachi and cooked hotdogs for the crew. People were driving by honking and yelling out their windows. Best moment of the day: As my wienies were roasting, I heard a very loud speaker request, “WE’LL HAVE TWO HOTDOGS WELL DONE PLEASE.” As I looked up, I saw a Kunkle Ambulance at the light, they were laughing. That was when I realized this was causing too much attention and started to fear that I could possibly get in trouble for this.
But everyone enjoyed the hotdogs and it made working on a holiday a little easier for some…Except Russ. When I offered him food, he gave me a look that burned a hole though my eyeballs and out the back of my head. He kept working, without partaking, disgusted at the foder going on around him.
The next day he marched into Managing Editor Tony Vella’s office to tell him of this horrible, unprofessional and distracting thing I had done. Tony had sat back and listen to Russ rant and tell what I had done. Tony’s response, “Good! It’s good for morale!”
This story has no moral, nor is it extremely interesting. I just had to look back, be thankful where I am now…And as i reminisce, I get a tinge of anxiety wondering what i would have done if I had to run out to cover breaking news and leave a tiny hibachi with cooking hotdogs and hot coals burning on the sidewalk in front of the OD. Just think of the liability. But…I’d do it again if I had the chance.