When people find out I cover high school sports for a living, they assume I do nothing but cover games. While that is a large and exceedingly enjoyable part of the job, it’s not all I do. Sometimes, it’s not an option.
When I saw the winter storm heading toward Lancaster on Friday, I knew my plans to cover the Lancaster boys basketball game would be scrapped. All games involving county teams were postponed, so my work day devolved into an ‘in-case’ shift. Basically, I need to be in the office in case something crazy happens. Breaking news during an ‘in-case’ shift and my night can become chaotic. If not, well … let’s just take a look at Friday.
* 2 p.m.: After arriving to the office I confirm the area’s cancellations, calling athletic directors to ensure that evening as a sports writer would be one sans sports. Everything was canceled, so now what?
* 2:30 p.m.: Time to read the day’s paper. While I do this every day, sometimes I struggle to find the time. No such challenge on this day.
* 3 p.m.: Daily budget meeting. I make sure to get in my daily quota of sarcastic comments as my co-workers and I discuss the plan for the weekend ahead. Unsurprisingly, my docket is somewhat empty for the evening.
* 3:20 p.m.: Some actual work! With nothing to work on for the immediate future, I make a number of calls for a story that won’t end up in the paper until Dec. 15.
* 3:45 p.m.: Try and fail to come up with a column idea for the weekend.
* 4 p.m.: Juggling break. We purchased 24 golf balls and when I have writers block or need a short break, I’ve taken to refining the juggling skills I learned when riding the bench in middle school baseball. I honestly think it can help the creative process. Plus, it’s fun.
* 4:15 p.m.: Read about the Big Ten championship storylines (again). Then I make more calls and once again fail to get in contact with the medical expert I need. Decide to brainstorm column ideas, again I fail.
* 5 p.m.: As most people are ending their work day (including the majority of my office) crashes come in over the police scanner. A head-on collision on Winchester Road sounds potentially bad, so photo editor Matthew Berry and I brave the conditions to investigate.
* 6 p.m.: Getting to the crash takes forever, and the drive doesn’t seem to be worth it as the crash was minor (thankfully). We further risk our lives by stopping at Raising Canes on the way back to the office.
* 7 p.m.: After finishing my dinner, I again fail to come up with anything resembling a column idea. I notice Jack Hanna’s Into the Wildlights zoo special comes on WBNS-TV (Channel 10) on the newsroom TV. Really, this is a thing? After multiple cringe-worthy Hanna quips, it’s time to channel surf.
* 7:15 p.m.: With the TV settled on something less objectionable, I begin sorting through my year’s work to decide which stories to submit for various Associated Press awards (perhaps a more obnoxious, navel-gazing activity than writing this column).
* 8 p.m.: The Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon movie, “Four Christmases,” begins on TBS. This is where the night has taken me. I continue to search for AP gold as the exercise in cinematic mediocrity plays out on the TV.
* 8:30 p.m.: The paper’s deadline, moved up due to the storm, arrives. After calling the area’s authorities to ensure I didn’t miss anything over the scanner, I am absolved of my responsibilities by Berry, the highest ranking staff member present.
* 9 p.m.: After a half-hour of cleaning of my car I begin my trek home, slightly angry I failed to come up with a column idea during my ‘in-case’ shift.