I'm not the kind of guy who expects to drift through life unmolested. Shit happens, even to the best of us. All things considered, I've danced between the raindrops about as successfully as anyone I know. Sure, there have been a few bumps in the road, but mostly these have been annoying rather than life changing.
For the most part, I have pursued the course of least resistance, taking one leap of faith after another to wind up where I am. The only job for which I ever applied that wound up doing me some good was with the Boca Raton News circa 1985. It could have just as easily been 1986. All I know is I turned 35 within my first year or so of working there. My first three or four years there were absolutely the best years of my working social life. My seven plus total years there launched me on my path for the next two-and-a-half decades, bringing me to today. I made friends there that I remain in contact with still. But, my Boca News days also altered my career path from reluctant salesman to wide-eyed journalist.
I joined the News as a display-advertising rep and popped out the other end as an automotive writer. It was, without a doubt, the biggest game changer of my life. Any other job I applied for and managed to somehow land was a clunker. Usually I was unhappy and my tenure short lived. Even my five-year sentence at the Palm Beach Post, fulfilling essentially the same role I did as auto-section editor at the Boca News, was a soul-squashing exercise in stick-to-it-tiveness that would have made the Old Testament's Job wince. Never before nor since have I worked with such a collection of miserable people. I made some good money there as a 1099 for the first three or four years (The only reason I hung on for so long.), but, my God, the jerks I had to deal with sucked every ounce of joy out of the experience.
A fine example of my parade of applied-for, self-inflicted bad jobs was my brief stay at a West Palm Beach public-relations firm 11 or 12 years ago. Holy crap, what an ordeal. Hired as a copywriter, I was elevated to account rep (A job for which I had no experience.) on my first day. It was the first day of the longest six weeks of my working life. The maniacal woman who owned, and still owns, this small company that she ruled with all the warmth and grace of England's Queen Mary was, perhaps, the most unpleasant individual I have had the misfortune of working with. (Although, with American Media's David Pecker in the mix, it's quite the horse race.) I can't share my nickname for this tyrant in polite company, but suffice to say, she earned it every waking moment of every day.
I didn't solicit the position for a few of the jobs I've held: Either someone came knocking on my door or I fell into them through some fortune of serendipity. Probably the most appropriate inscription for my gravestone is “It's not what you know, but who you know.” (Yes, I know: Who should be whom. But it doesn't have the same ring.) That was the case with my stint as managing editor for the car magazines at American Media, as well as my current post as a contract writer for Autotrader. At the former, my buddy Terry Jackson gave me the nod when he became editor and chief of Auto World. A conversation during a shuttle ride from some long-forgotten airport to an equally unmemorable hotel landed me the Autotrader gig. Both jobs were exactly what I needed when I needed them. Autotrader continues to be a terrific client.
Even my health has cooperated with my rather untethered lifestyle. Turning 65, though, was like running into a wall at full speed in terms of my physical health. Suddenly after decades of near-perfect health, things began to unravel. If there were some sort of frequent-flier plan for hanging out in doctor and hospital waiting areas, I'd be awash in points. But, even here, I haven't had to deal with anything life threatening. It's just the old machinery wearing out. Hell, no one lives forever.
All of this to report that I had to cough up $210 at the Kona Airport to check my three bags for their 120-mile or so trip from Kona to Honolulu on Hawaiian Air during my trip home last week. Despite this flight having a Delta flight number, my Delta Platinum status held no sway. The three bags that flew for free from Honolulu to Kona, suddenly were an issue when going in the other direction. Because a call placed at the Hawaiian Air check-in desk to Delta produced nothing beyond the information that it's against the U.S. Dept of Transportation regs to charge for bags on a return flight that weren't charged for on the outbound flight, I had to eat the $210 fee or cool my heels at the Kona airport for 9 hours while waiting for the first available official Delta flight out. After two weeks on the road, all I wanted to do was get home! Was I pissed? You could say that.
I have yet to battle this injustice. I will fire the initial volley this coming week by disputing the charge with American Express and penning a complaint to Delta. I'll keep you posted.