I’ve got to admit, these past few weeks have been tough on me personally.
The stresses of putting out a Fall Sports special section (which by the way is the best one we’ve ever produced since I’ve been here), or other work-related issues, I’ve definitely grown my fair share of gray hairs on my head.
The constant bickering online or out in the community, whether it’s the Confederate statue, or what the city is spending their money on, or even the recent gas scare — I’ve been asked by my closest friends “man, how do you do this? And why do you still do this?” I’ll tell you, it’s not because the racist dude who comes in the office and continually tells me that I’m not from here (and implies that I don’t belong here, either) motivates me, although honestly the fact that my mere presence bothers him just makes my life that much better (trolling by just being me, splendid).
The reason why I put up with the stresses of this job is because of Tuesday and Friday nights.
Before I get to those special nights, let’s first talk about the fact that I’m not from here.
Last week I was reminded again by an ex public figure that I’m not from here, so I don’t (or can’t) understand how things work in town.
Fun fact about me, I’m never been “from here.”
My dad joined the U.S. Army when I was young and we did a lot of moving around. I was born in Puerto Rico, which for those who don’t know, makes me an American, contrary to what some may have been taught, thanks to the Jones-Shafroth Act, enacted on March 2, 1917. Then my family was stationed (in order) to Germany, Georgia, Virginia, Panama, Puerto Rico, North Carolina, Germany then back to North Carolina where my dad retired.
I’ve written about this part of my life before, but to reiterate, I moved about every two to three years. So, it’s not really an insult to me if I’m told “you’re not from here.”
I’ve almost reached the three-year mark for residing here in Gonzales. I’ve worked here for almost five years, with my first article published in the Feb. 26, 2013 edition of the Inquirer. Don’t go back and check for yourself. Even though the picture was pretty good for a rookie, the writing wasn’t. I’ll admit, I can be my worst critic, but just trust me on this one.
Other than spending college in North Carolina, this is probably the longest I’ve ever been in one spot.
March 1, 2013, my intro column was published. I wrote: “I am not at a game because it’s only my job. I’m at a game because I care about the team and about the people involved in the game, and I hope I can portray that through my writing.”
It is Sept. 12, 2017, and I have not strayed from that mission statement. Tuesdays and Fridays, those are my favorite days of the week. I’m on the sideline, watching sports.
Last Thursday morning, I was waiting in line for some breakfast tacos (God’s gift to mankind, don’t @ me) and I had a stranger spark up some friendly conversation. Eventually, I was asked the one question I don’t like answering.
“What do you do?”
I’m going to apologize now for the little white lie I tell. I just figured sports is more of a safe zone.
“Oh, I just write about sports for the local paper.”
Then that sparked a conversation about the Gonzales Apaches, and I was reminded that even though I’m not from there, sports can be the ultimate unifier.
Those conversations are why I put up with the stresses of making sure we have a published paper every Tuesday and Friday. Going to games and writing about these athletes — that’s my favorite part of the job. Even if I’m not “from here.”
I can take whatever criticism is thrown at us, whether it’s by social media, behind my back through whispered conversations or face-to-face using coded language in an attempt to veil racism. That wasn’t part of the job description when I signed in, but I’ll take it. Because those Tuesday and Friday nights are worth the trouble. Even if I’m not from anywhere.