Friday, October 29, 2010

Jobs I have Worked – From Internship to 1st job after college.

So I guess it is coincidence that I write about this job as we are having some sort of a reunion this weekend with some of the staff at this job. It just shows to me that this was more of a job to a lot of us. For the majority of us, we see each other as family.

I needed an internship for my degree at the University of Missouri. I wanted to get involved in minor league baseball and started looking. I knew that a lot of teams existed and I started contacting teams across the Midwest. I had one team very interested and asked for another interview, but in person. They were about 400 miles away from Columbia, MO and knew it would be a new challenge for me to work far away from home. Then I remembered a team just outside of St. Louis in O’Fallon, MO. They had another team across the river in Illinois that was just starting up. So, I interviewed with both teams over spring break. The one across the river had a lot of growing pains and were not looking for an intern right at that moment. I then got a call from the team in O’Fallon inviting me to join the team that summer. Excited does not even begin to describe how I felt. I was doing an internship in baseball. If you know me, that was a dream come true.

Rascals Days2 I started at the end of May and worked until the middle of August before I had to go back to school. We had to work a minimum of 480 hours for to receive a grade in the class. I think I hit that about halfway through the internship. We worked from 8:30 in the morning and usually went late into the evening on game days. We also had extra events at the ballpark that we worked the concession stand and had a blast doing it.

The summer flew by so quickly. We worked extremely hard and brought in a lot of fans. I started to learn what the business was about and it is just a little more than the baseball that is played on the field. Its’ focus was on the fans and the fans would have a good time no matter what the final score of the game was.

Rascal Days After my only second A+ in college (Dad, be nice!), I went back to college for my senior year to try and figure out what I wanted to do with my life that May. The Rascals asked me to come back even though they went through a management change. I graduated from Mizzou on a Sunday and by that Wednesday morning, I was back in the office. That began my life in the “real world.” We had many high’s and lo’s while working at the Rascals. There are too many stories to write on hear that helped shape my understanding of working hard. What I learned is that if your work can be great only if you have a staff around you to make it great. We had that staff. We were around each other so much during the season, once the season ended, we continued to hang out on many nights. From watching college football on weekends to having late nights playing Bond on XBOX.

I left the Rascals in January 2005 for my next job, which will be talked about next time. Since then, we have stayed in touch. Many have gotten married and had kids. Some have moved on to high end jobs and some have passed on. Either way, for everyone I worked with at the Rascals, I will always be in debt and learned something from each and everyone there. It really helped to teach me how to be the worker I am today!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jobs I have worked – You want me to drive WHO around??

There were random small jobs I have worked in my life that led to something a little bigger. This one while I was in college is a perfect example.

I was part of a group in our dormitory called Community Leaders or “CL’s".” As a CL, you do a lot for the dorm between organizing the lovely carpet delivery for new students to putting on a big outdoor concert to almost setting a building on fire. Okay, the last part was an accident and the Hearnes Center is still there. However, we also assisted Student Activities to provide security to concerts that came to town. We worked the Run DMC show the beginning of our sophomore year and of course all thought it was the coolest thing. After that concert, I started to get a little bit more involved in Student Activities. Next thing I knew, I was running the Special Events committee. We had several committee’s on Student Activities (Black Programming, Music, Film, etc) and what was cool is we all helped each other out for events. Just ask me about working a concert with Genuwine. Ha!

Anyway, we focused in on a up and coming comedian to bring in to town. He was well in our budget for a comedian as we were not there to make money. We had a budget we had for each year and your focus was to break even, or maybe lose just a bit. The comedian did not need a whole lot and just a ride to and from the airport in Columbia and a hotel room. The comedian you ask: Jimmy Fallon of SNL fame and now his own Late Show on NBC. The event was in one word: AWESOME! Sold out the theatre which blew us all away. I had the privilege of introducing him in front of almost 1000 Mizzou students. It was crazy! He stayed afterwards and signed every autograph outside the theatre.

Then, over FAMILY weekend the following October my junior year, I brought in another comedian by the name of Lewis Black. I highlight family because I think his shows are more for adults then the family. He sold out another venue on campus and he was very different from Jimmy Fallon. Lewis was more of the go out afterwards and shut the bar down type of guy. Not getting drunk but just be out and talking to everyone. Someone asked him if Jon Stewart was around and he went into a hysterical yelling rampage, all in good fun. He came back the following year, after I relinquished my title and I was asked to drive him around again.

It was fun driving them around as well as some of the others I worked with; however, the whole process from start to finished really showed me the importance of following through each and every item on a project. It has definitely been used from working in ALL the future jobs I have held. Crazy to think that these shows happened ten years ago; yet, their principles are still being used to this day.

Next time: Jobs I have Worked – From Internship to 1st job after college.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jobs I have Worked – Grocery Store

So as I was heading into my junior year of high school, my parents emphasized to me that if I wanted a car (what hg student doesn’t), a more permanent job would be required of me. I went to the grocery store chain here in St. Louis and re-applied for the job I applied for several months back. They turned me down simply for scheduling issues I had with playing summer baseball. Now that baseball was over, the hired me on as a bagger, sorry Courtesy Clerk.

It was a fairly busy job. Very flexible with school and worked a lot on the weekends and they were flexible around my church schedule too. I have absolutely no complaints about them as an employer and would highly recommend them to anyone.

The majority of times, you could assume by the day of the week how busy you would be. Usually busy around 5-7 during the week and the afternoons on the weekend. You would have random events that caused craziness. Thanksgiving was always entertaining for me because you would see people come in around 10pm and get a 14lb frozen turkey and shocked we had them in stock. Well, since it takes quite awhile to defrost the bird correctly, you were not going to have that turkey for Thanksgiving. Christmas Eve was relatively simply because we closed around 8pm and people would start heading to church earlier in the evening.

When I turned 18, they moved me into a new position as a checker. The would have me as an Express Checker so I was in charge of sending the courtesy clerks out to get carts as well as when other courtesy clerks and checkers would go on break. Authority at 18!! Major Euphoria! Okay, it was not a lot but hey, I took it.

What was even more great about the job is that it was available to me when I cam in for holidays and the summer. I would work the later hours if need be and ended up closing up the store a lot of times. One evening, after closing, I counted my drawer and went to drop it off in the safe. Well, the courtesy counter had shut down early and they were gone. The manager on duty had left as well so it was me and the overnight crew. I had to go track them down and get them to sign off on my drop. They were afraid to do it because they had not done it before and were unsure of the procedures. We went back and forth for a few minutes and we finally called the store director. Long story short, a manager and the person who left the courtesy counter were not too happy with me for about a week after they were reprimanded.

What that one event taught me is that yes, you may be scheduled to a certain time; however, revolve around your associates’ schedule when needed. You have to be flexible in ANY job you work. Even union jobs and what may seem like mindless jobs. Flexible is key, not break. You do not want your life to revolve around work and break from your family and friends. But be flexible. Bend a little bit for them.

Next time: Jobs I have worked – You want me to drive WHO around??

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cody – One Great Dog

The past few months there has been talk from my parents that the end is looking near for our family dog. Cody has been with our family since 1996. I never had an issue of not having a dog growing up. It was not a big deal to me. Friends of mine and dogs and I thought every now and then it would be cool and sometimes would say something to my folks; however, nothing ever came of it. Then my brother came along.Picture 372

He wanted a dog. He had to find a way to make it happen. My dad started to side with him and get a dog too. That left my mom to be the one to get on board. The only way that was happening as if both my dad and brother agreed to sign a contract to take care of the dog and my mom had very little to do with him. That worked out for maybe a week.

My dad and brother decided on a dog they wanted and drove to Kansas to get him. The picked the dog up from a breeder and made the journey back to St. Louis. He was an instant hit. I was at work when they got back to the house. Neighbors started to come up to work and ask if I had seen the dog because he was so cute. I FINALLY got off work and went home. The dog came running to me and was going crazy. Hyper dog!! And then, Cody made his mark: He peed on the kitchen floor. I laughed and my mom started 14 years of clean ups.

We do not have crazy stories about Cody from the book and movie “Marley and Me” like a dog attacking a training and humping them. He would always follow my mom around, especially the kitchen when she needed to get food on the table. He did that pretty much every day of his life. The big holidays were his favorite days. He would hang out, in the kitchen while the food was prepared. Mom would ask someone to move him to another room; yet, he would find his way back. And then when that food would go to the table, he would not hesitate to just sit down, many times between my mom  and me looking for food. When I would get up to go to the kitchen, he would follow me and of course, he got some good food. Not cheap tenderloin, but Cody was worth it.

Travis 042My brother has since graduated from college and lives about five hours away now. He came in last weekend to see him as his health has gotten worse.  It was a chance to see him one last time before Cody’s time will come. We had a wedding to attend last weekend and my parents were watching our son during the reception. Cody has yet to take my son on as a member of this family and has made his disapproval clear; however, at one point, my son leaned over and began to pet Cameron on his ear. I wish I could have seen it and it must be a magical moment for my parents.

Cody is going through pain and I support this decision for this tough weekend ahead. I will say my goodbye’s to not just a good dog, but a great dog. A member of our immediate family is going to be leaving us and not hearing him come down the stairs or sitting in the kitchen while making a sandwich will be so difficult for all of us when we go over there now. But, we have great memories of our Cody. He was the greatest dog we could ever have. Goodbye my friend.

You can read my dad’s blog regarding Cody: Tough Decision Ahead.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Jobs I have worked – Tom Sawyer wannabe

This is the job I did not get paid for monetarily but man did it teach me some things.

It was during the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I had applied for a job at a local grocery store; however, with the baseball demands I had, I could not commit to the time they required. Umpiring was not a real possibility anymore since I was playing more games than I had previous with playing JV and Varsity Legion baseball. So I would just relax around the house or hang with friends during the day. Well, to my parents, that was for some reason unacceptable.

Coincidentally during this time, my parents were starting to redo their white picket fence around the yard. So, before they were going to have it professionally painted, they needed to sand off the old paint and get it prepared. You see where this is going.

So I would go out there for several hours a day, never complaining and thanking God for such a great opportunity to learn the true meaning of working hard. Okay, so I may think that now, but not then. My mother and I would fight about this ALL the time. I am sure my father would attest to this simply because he I am sure got calls at work about me complaining. I still would go out there and do the work, even while friends gave me crap about it.

I always equated work with money growing up and that was it; however, this job taught me that when a job is completed and you might get a few bucks, there is a greater satisfaction in knowing YOU completed something. It took me awhile to see that but I look back on this experience and besides needing to apologize to my parents (especially my mother), it was something I NEEDED and appreciated.

Next time – Bag them groceries!!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Jobs I have worked - Photography

So during the school year of my sophomore year, a friend and myself worked for a guy who went to our church. What made it better was the fact he lived about 10 minutes walking from my parents so I did not need a ride over there. He was and still is a great photographer and was looking for a few assistants to help him get his photographs organized. The St. Louis Rams had just moved from Los Angeles and he got a job as being one of their photographers. I do not think I have seen so many pictures of football players in my life. From talking on the sideline to plays on the field to the fans.

He also would do events in St. Louis as well as college events. He worked with the Saint Louis University Women’s Basketball team. This was the one event that he took me out on the job for to see what he did and keep up with what he had to do. A 15 year old male going to watch women’s college basketball: TOUGH CALL. He was all over the place. Shooting from different angles from the court to the stands. Not many people attended the girls games in the mid 90’s as they played on campus in an OLD gymnasium so he could move around all over the place without interfering with anyone’s views.

It amazed me how the process worked. He would take the pictures to going into his dark room and develop them to cutting them to getting them into slides. Then after all this work, he would get a few pictures from the clients and the rest would be for him to keep. It was insane the work and dedication that he put into one event to get less than 25% of the pictures taken.

What David Preston showed me was that hard work and dedication to God and family through your work may not produce the big bucks all the time. But it sure earns you a lot of respect from people. I saw him about three weeks ago taking pictures for a big hospitality event in downtown St. Louis. He was taking pictures of the mayor of the city and county controller. He has garnered the respect of MANY organizations in this great town. He does something he loves and keeps pressing forward.

I would love to see his collection of slides now though. That was 15 years ago this fall!

To see more of David Preston, go to

Next Job – Tom Sawyer Impersonator????

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