With my Starbucks experience under my belt, I moved to New York to work at St. John’s University as the graphic designer for the athletics department. Of course I wasn’t called the graphic designer or paid like a graphic designer, that would cost too much money. My working title was Publications Coordinator but my official title was Assistant Athletics Communications Director. Or maybe it was publications coordinator – St. John’s is a private school and things were done different there.
With a nondescript title I was able to be used and abused, just like the old days in athletics. Design this, layout my game notes, create an invitation; rearrange this billboard, work lacrosse, help with soccer, etc. etc. etc. It was exciting stuff, really, except that my boss lived with the other two assistants and they were all at least five years younger than me. It was like working in a frat house – they came in late, ate a long lunch, worked out and then stayed late to do their work so they could go out drinking directly from work. I went in at 8:30, had lunch at my desk and left at 4:30, feeling guilty for only working 8 hours. When I had to layout game notes I was forced to remain at my desk until the boss finished the text for me to use. There were times he would get on the phone with three different people to find someone to go out drinking with when he finished work, all while I was waiting to work after he left.
Being in New York, or being a young, unpolished boss, he went out of his way to not tell me what I needed to know – even if I asked. “Do you want this to look like this?” I’d ask. “Figure it out,” he’d say. Which meant, design it, give it to me and I’ll red ink it for you to do again.
I was required to work basketball games which burnt me up, except that it was really good basketball. It was St. John’s, Lou Carnesseca, Big East basketball – the real deal, big-time hoops. And for every flaw my boss had as a boss he was outstanding at managing basketball games. From pregame to post game, that guy had his act together.
He gave me a chance to help him with notes but I failed, not understanding exactly what he needed. I asked, he said “just do runs” and that’s what I did. Being terrible at math, I did it slowly and wasn’t of much help. He could have told me to make post-game notes for the media and I would have done fine but instead I followed his instructions and bombed. So I was demoted to “runner” and I didn’t like it. We worked at Madison Square Garden and I had to take stats to the media on the other side of the court, up two levels in the stands. Oh, and because it was MSG we didn’t get court side seats – we had to hop around to an empty seat if we could find one. I smiled when I handed the media the stats but otherwise, I didn’t smile. I was, again, miserable.
Because it was New York people didn’t seem to notice I was never smiling. People didn’t care about anyone, except themselves and there were times I found that amazing. Everywhere but New York, “Can I get a plain bagel with cream cheese? Sure honey, do you want that toasted? Yes, thank you.” In New York, “Give me a bagel with cream cheese, toasted!” If you didn’t say what you wanted, you didn’t get it. If you asked, you pissed them off. If you smiled, no one noticed.
But, I was miserable. So I left the joy of acceptable rudeness and took my buried smile to Cincinnati.