My time at the Boston Herald should not have been memorable. I worked there only four days a week for about four months in early 2014, it entailed crap hours (approximately 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.), and I didn’t make a lot of money.
As I wrote my post about my “what do you want to be when you grow up” post last night, I thought about the jobs I have done and my time at the Herald sticks with me more than I thought it would.
I was the lowest on the totem pole in the sports department, editorial assistant. I like to say that I was a glorified copy and paster. I didn’t write. I didn’t even edit copy. I put together box scores and took phone calls. I also took the dinner order every so often. I easily could have been resentful or thought I was better than the job, but I’m glad I wasn’t. I picked up a lot of small things from the job.
First, I learned that people will catch your mistakes. No matter how small you think a mistake will be, someone reading something you put together will notice a player’s name spelled wrong or an incorrect score. In our baseball pages, we’d have an “On this date” note which noted something significant that had happened on that particular day in a previous year. I accidently forgot to change a year on one of the dates and someone noticed it. Only the most die-hard baseball enthusiast would have noticed a milestone of Bob Feller’s career was noted 20 years before he came to the majors, but someone did, and they called the paper. I got chewed out for out (not harshly, but enough to scare me.) Double, triple, quadruple checking things are worth it.
Second, taking pride in things is important, especially when you won’t get recognized for it. My name never appeared anywhere in the newspaper or on the website. I doubt anyone ever said, “Oh man these box scores are looking fantastic today.” However, I liked it when I saw someone reading the sports page of the Herald on the T because I knew I did it. As one of my former teachers liked to quote from Robert E. Lee’s Farewell to the Army of Northern Virginia, “ satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed”
Bill Simmons, who is one of the most well-known sports personalities on the planet, got his start at the Herald. He hated working there. He thought he was too good for it. And there were some veterans still at the Herald who hated him for that. Credit to Simmons for making it as big as he has, but we don’t all have that luxury. Sometimes we just have to do work that we think we’re overqualified for.
Third, there are people who do things that you don’t know about that make your day better. Lots of guys who work on the desk don’t get their name in the paper. But they did the copy-editing, design, layout, and all the other things that come with putting together a newspaper. They also work holidays, weekends, and times where you’re fast asleep in bed. The world does not all run on a 9-to-5 schedule.
Fourth, good exits from jobs are underrated. I could have easily flipped the bird and forgotten about my time there, but I said my thank yous and I’ve stayed in social media contact with some of them and I’d like to think I made a semi-favorable impression during my time there.
Not all of your crap jobs have to be miserable. Sometimes you just take what can from them and then you move on.