Monday, October 4, 2010

Top 10 Odd Things I've Done

A Letterman-style list.  Like much of these things I write, it's possible only my kids will care about this some day but here's my list nonetheless.

These are some of the odd things that I've done in my past jobs over the years that come to mind.

10. Getting the K-Mart "Blue Light Special" explained for top Wal-Mart executives.  Steubenville didn't have a Wal-Mart in 2001 when a team of Wal-Mart executives came to town to explore the city as the location for a new food distribution center.  To get a taste for the workforce, they stopped at K-Mart.  Odd as that was, the oddest thing was getting someone from K-Mart to explain to the Wal-Mart execs how the "Blue Light Special" worked.  One of those Wal-Mart execs was Mike Duke, now President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores.

9. Visiting with Art Modell at Browns' training camp.  Before he became the most hated man in Cleveland, Art Modell was the top champion for Bernadine Healy to be the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in 1994.  After the primary and after his candidate lost, I boldly suggested that Mike DeWine (the guy who won) should go visit Modell, impromptu, when we had an hour of down time in Berea.  DeWine, a died-hard Bengals fan, and I, a die-hard Steelers fan, waited on the field for Modell who later gave a tour of the Browns' training camp.

Of course, Modell's decision a couple years later to move the Browns to Baltimore resulted in one of the oddest things in our history.  Among the protesting Browns' fan to testify to Congress was a man in a dog mask.  I don't suppose a man in a dog mask has ever testified to Congress, and cried while doing it, before or since.

8.  Accidentally crossing a picket line during a steel strike.  This is the kind of thing that could get you shot.  I started a new job in Chamber of Commerce job in Steubenville in 1996 just after a steel strike began at Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel.  I was hi-railing (riding a rail-equipped truck) with the railroad when, all of sudden, I realized we were on the rail lines behind the steel plant--inside the picket line.  Since the strike lasted 13 months, I didn't get to actually go into the steel plant for more than a year later.

7.  Playing the "name game" at a McDonald's birthday party for an Asian Indian child and his equally-hard-to-pronounce-named friends.  Let's face it, traditional Asian Indian kids' names are pretty hard to pronounce.  The "name game" required me, as the high school-aged McDonald's employee assigned to this birthday party, to pronounce every one of their names. 

6.  Wearing grease-soaked, bell-bottom polyester pants while donning a paper hat.  Let's face it.  Working for McDonald's in the 1980's required doing some odd things.  Dressing for work was chief among them.

5.  Addressing an angry crowd in a Southern Ohio courthouse of people who were mad that they were not getting a prison built in their county.  During a visit that, routinely, would have been with a half dozen people, I stood in the courtroom with 50+ angry people instead.  These folks were the opposite of the NIMBYs who didn't want prisons.  These were the IMBY's.  They did want a prison and they were mad they weren't getting one. 

4.  Braving the body odor of a constituent who rarely bathed and who was protesting the lack of an "e" in his name on junk mail sent to his house.  Suspecting that they guy probably had some mental issues didn't make it any easier to endure hearing this constituent of the 7th Congressional District office I worked for in 1989 talk about his postal service grievances.  I have a weak gag reflex and my office was a converted closet with no windows (and no air circulation).

3.  Driving a conversion van loaded with eight people and their belongings.  During a campaign run with the DeWine family in an ill-advised RV in 1990 and after the RV caught on fire, we had to load up all the belongings and go from campaign stop to campaign stop in a loaded-to-the-gills van until a new RV could be found.  Brian DeWine had to sit on a microwave in the back seat.  It's too bad there weren't camera phones back then, this would have been a doozy.

2.  Being towed down country roads in a broken down motor home.  This was the sign of bad things to come.  Three days  before the ill-advised RV caught on fire, I was being towed with a chain down back country roads to get to a repair garage that could fix this thing on a Saturday so we'd be ready for the campaign kick-off on Monday.

1.  Delivering medicine to a candidate for Governor of Ohio in his pup tent during his hunger strike on the statehouse grounds.  My one-time friend, Billy Inmon, had turned on his old boss, George Voinovich, and ran against him as an independent for Governor in 1994.  My 11th floor office window overlooked the statehouse where he had pitched a tent and tried to survive a hunger strike.  As I was about the only person in Columbus who both knew Billy and didn't, at the time, work for Voinovich, I was asked by his daughter to be the person who, one day, brought him his medicines.

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