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Tales of working on Christmas...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Mizzougrad96, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Most of us have had to do it.

    What are your best/worst/most memorable tales of having to work on Christmas, something that 90 percent of people can't even begin to comprehend.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Never worked at a paper that was open for Christmas, until this year. We're a two-person sports department and I got Thanksgiving off, but will come in on Christmas. Not much to do as we'll get our local stuff done ahead of time, with plenty of national news going on.

    I have tomorrow and Christmas Eve off, so it's a nice week.
  3. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    Oh. my. gosh. Driving 5 hours to Shreveport to cover a 15 minute walk-through and hear Nick Saban and a few players say they all arrived safe and are excited to play in the Independence Bowl, followed by one of the worst dinner experiences I've ever had: casino restaurant, poor food, poor to non-existent service, and 3 other mopey reporters as dining companions. Fun times!
  4. bumpy mcgee

    bumpy mcgee Well-Known Member

    Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, NYE same tradition, I bring in the George Foreman Grill and make quesadillas and steaks for everyone in the newsroom.
    One Thanksgiving the ME brought in a bottle, it felt like the good old days until he forgot he left the bottle in the breakroom fridge and I had to go back to the office at 2 a.m. to get it before anyone got in the next day.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    My worst

    I was covering a NFL game across the country. There was no reason for me to be at the game. We had a columnist, two beat writers, and I was one of two guys sent to write sidebars. We had to fly out early on the 23rd because we didn't want to worry about weather on the 24th so we fly out and couldn't even spend Christmas Eve at home.

    Our flight is delayed and we don't get there at 11 p.m. and the columnist (a big-time partier) drives us straight to where the nightlife was. It was freezing and the other four of us all wanted to go to our hotel. We figured, we'd get there, call a cab and have it take us back to the hotel. We couldn't really let the columnist know that we were about to ditch him. We left our suitcases in his car and only brought our computer bags.

    Well, the weather got worse and we couldn't get a cab. We didn't have a cell phone and the cab places we called told us it would be an hour.

    Our columnist ran off and we had no idea where he went. Only one of the four of us had a jacket and the rest of us were freezing our asses off. We end up hanging out until the bars closed at 2 with the hope that then we could either find the columnist or a cab back to our hotel, which was on the other side of town. At about 2:30 we went to the car and just stood there. At 3, our drunken columnist shows up.

    We get to the hotel at 4. Columnist checks in and goes to his room. It turns out our columnist had called to make sure they held his room for him since he knew he would be getting in late. The rest of us did not and they gave our rooms away. To be fair, if we had gone there straight from the airport, this probably would have been the case anyway.

    They had one room available, with one bed, and all four of us go there. I slept on the floor while the other three fought over the bed. It came very close to coming to blows since we were all so tired and pissed. Our beat writer then announces that he's going to go stay with the columnist.

    As soon as he left, we locked it from the inside so there was no way he was getting back in. Since I hadn't been involved in the scuffle over the bed, I figured I would not be blamed if he came back and couldn't get in, so I went to sleep as did the other two, who were sharing the bed.

    The beat writer comes back and starts pounding on the door. One of the guys in the bed said, "The phone is already unplugged. If you answer that door, I will fucking kill you."

    The pounding goes on for about a half hour. The beat writer comes back with hotel security and finally the door is opened. I'm on the floor while the two beat writers nearly kill each other.

    At this point, it's light out and I've slept about 10 minutes and the only clothes I have with me are the sweats I wore on the flight.

    The front desk tells us our rooms will be ready at noon. so I went to get breakfast to kill time until my room is ready. After sitting in the restaurant by myself for 90 minutes the waiter tells me I have to go. Nevermind that I've eaten and paid for my breakfast and that nobody is waiting for a table.

    I buy a paper and a magazine and read both while I'm waiting. My room that was supposed to be ready at noon, is ready at 1:30. I go there and pass out.

    I wake up at 8 p.m. and call our columnist so I can get my clothes out of the car. He's gone. Nobody has talked to him and nobody knows where he is.

    At 3 a.m. the phone in my room rings. "If you want your stuff, you have to get it now."

    I go and get it and we decide to meet in the lobby at 10 to go to the game. We cover the game which is a blowout.

    We have a flight out that night. We get on the plane without incident. At this point, I'm figuring that I'll get home late, sleep all day on the 26th, and then fly out on the 27th to cover a bowl game.

    Because of weather, our flight has to land at a small airport about 100 miles from our final destination and they would bus us the rest of the way.

    By the time we get back, it's daylight on the 26th. I walked into my apartment and passed out. I slept 16 hours straight and woke up three hours before my next flight. I threw clothes in a bag and headed back to the airport.

    Merry Christmas.
  6. Bob Cook

    Bob Cook Active Member

    My hard introduction to the full-time journalism working world was Christmas 1988, when I had just turned 19, working full-time for UPI in Indianapolis. I worked 10 days straight on the night shift, most of it alone, and it was the 10 Days of Death. The highlights, or lowlights such as it were, were a family of seven killed in northern Indiana on their way back from Christmas shopping (yes, their car was also full of presents), and a helicopter crash that killed three, an accident that happened a-mile-and-a-half from my house. (Fortunately, back then the area was a field, because now that crash would have taken out houses on the ground.)

    There were stories like this day after day, not helped when I got a call from New York demanding that I find some surviving member of the family of seven to talk to about how it feels to have their Christmas canceled because of hideous deaths. I found one family member, who didn't feel like talking.

    It was an incredible journalism business education in 10 days, I'll say that.
  7. Bamadog

    Bamadog Well-Known Member

    Back when I was a full-time desker, I was putting out the Christmas day section on Christmas Eve, trying to get out early so I could go to my cousin's house for a holiday get-together that was my only opportunity to catch my extended family for Christmas. Off the floor by 8, not so bad, eh? Not really.

    Well, at my old shop, the folks in the camera room, not the designers, were the only folks allowed to tone photos. It was a bunch of make-work crap to give them a reason to justify their salaries. I keep sending photos back there and the guy had toned exactly none of them. We're getting closer and closer and closer to deadline. The pile adds up to 25 photos for all of the sections and he decides to tone them all at once, right before deadline. We blow deadline for the entire paper and I miss out on fresh fried turkey.

    Later, the same employee gets canned for failing a drug test. Big surprise, eh?
  8. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    The only year I didn't mind not spending Christmas with my family:
    Aloha Bowl, my then-fiancee was with me, and we had a great group of men and women beat writers.
    Got our advances done and filed early on the 24th, headed to Hanauma Bay for some snorkeling, continued on to Sandy Beach for body surfing. We circled the island and I got my feet wet at Sunset, Bonzai Pipeline and Waimea. Huge thrill.
    The game on the 25th was a drag, despite featuring two future NFL Hall of Famers, but Christmas dinner with the group was outstanding at Chart House and drinks flowed afterward.
    Flight home on the 26th was memorable, since there were 35 passengers (I counted) on a 747. I tried to talk the stew into letting everybody sit in first class, she wouldn't go for it.
  9. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    While working news side, got hit with some breaking news that eventually went international.
    It was a big story and it was pretty much just me on Christmas working it.
  10. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    BUMFUCK, Egypt - Gifts purportedly from Santa Claus actually purchased by parents, says JayFarrar of the Bumfuck Bugle.
  11. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    A couple times I had to work on Christmas.

    That's pretty much the tale.
  12. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    One night when I was in the office on Christmas, somebody pretty significant died. It would have been 1996 or 1997 and our news editor came over and said, "Such and such just died,"

    Our copy chief said, "Makes me glad I work in sports."

    News editor: "Why is that?"

    Copy Chief: "Because I don't have to care."
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