Sunday, February 20, 2011

Left hanging

Years ago, I was in a pickle. I was covering a football playoff game at a school in eastern North Carolina, and the principal let me use his office to write my story. This was the day of the Bubble computer, a cumbersome abomination compared to the modern notebook, and I was going to send the story in via phone line. No e-mail back then.

The principal wasn't going to wait for me, so he locked me in his office, and I had to climb out of his window (NOT HAPPY, NOT HAPPY!). After writing and sending the story, I opened the window, but I realized I couldn't turn off the light first. So I left the light on. I climbed out the window, holding onto the windowsill with my right hand and clutching the computer case with my left.

Naturally, I couldn't close the window behind me, so I left it open. With the lights on and the window open, there was no security for the principal's office.

I slid down the wall to my full extension, and I realized there was at least a foot of air beneath my feet. Here I was, a 250-pound sports writer, hanging to the windowsill with one hand and desperately clutching that stinking computer with the other. After a beat, I dropped into the mud below me, no chance that it'd be dry, of course, then slogged around to my truck.

Free at last, free at last, free ... Well, actually, no.

I drove to the exit and realized they'd locked the gate! I couldn't drive into a deep ditch to get out, so I had to go back to the principal's office to call the police (remember, no cell phones back then). I shinnied back up the wall and through the window to make the call.

The only good thing is that, this time, I knew what I faced. I made the 911 call, turned off the light and went over and climbed out the window. I couldn't lock the window, but I was able to lower it (remember, I wasn't carrying the computer this time).

Finally, about midnight, a policeman showed up, listened to my explanation at least twice, opened the gate, and I drove a hundred miles home...

With skinned knuckles, a wrenched wrist, bruised knees, muddy shoes and pants legs, and a slightly banged-up (and abominable) Bubble.

Anything for a story.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

No comments:

Post a Comment