"It was just part of the job"

The Editor's Notebook

My first job out of college was writing sports for the old Salt Lake Telegram in Salt Lake City. It was all quite straight forward and I cannot think of a single incident worthy of adding to my Editor's Notebook. Perhaps this explains why sports writing soon palled after my first excitement. And I don't doubt that my meager paycheck had something to do with it as well.

The time spent with the liquor trade publication in San Francisco is a completely different affair. Here it seemed that there was always something happening and as I have reiterated in other of these tales the amount of drinking and upscale living that went on probably had a lot to do with it. Certainly nothing I ever learned in my journalism classes prepared me for some of the odd, sometimes comical incidents, which seemed commonplace in my new job.

One of my first holiday seasons with this publication did nothing but add to my wonderment. It was Christmas Eve and strangely very quiet at the office with everyone seemingly on personal errands. I was just about ready to wrap it up myself and leave when the senior partner called me on the telephone.

The conversation went something like this:

"Joe, sure glad I reached you. I am in San Leandro and my car is still at the office parking space. Will you get the set of keys that are in the top drawer of my desk and bring the car over to me. I am at The Cottage on E. l4th Street. Do you know the place?"

As a matter of fact I was familiar with The Cottage. It was a favorite watering hole and restaurant, very popular with executives of the many businesses that surrounded that particular area of the East Bay. I had been there a couple of times with my boss which evidently he had now forgotten.

Some of its popularity, no doubt, was due to its location across the street from Hunt Foods and the many women that worked there and who often gathered at the restaurant.

Since this pretty much sounded like a command from the boss I said that I would get there as soon as traffic permitted. Fortunately I had no particular plans of my own. I was single, did not have a steady girl and wheeling his long blue Cadillac instead of my ancient Ford sounded all right to me. And I had just received a generous Christmas bonus check which I did not expect.

Getting across the Bay Bridge during rush hour and then the long haul along E. 14th Street took a good deal of time. This was long before any freeways existed.

The Cottage was divided with two rooms, one the bar and the second side for dining with both tables and booths. As would be expected the place was jumping with folk and lots of liquid holiday cheer.

I didn't have to look very hard to find my boss. I could hear him as well as the booming laugh of one of his buddies, Charlie. There was also a lot of feminine giggling as well. Both Charlie and my boss were well into middle age and their companions seemed a little "long in the tooth" to my youthful eyes.

When I walked over to their booth he says to me: "Joe, what are you doing here?" This led me to believe in his present condition he had forgotten all about his telephone call.

Then there was the invitation to sit down, the introductions to the "girls" and of course several rounds of drinks for all.

Feeling that this party would go on for some time I gave him the keys to his car, explaining exactly where I had parked it. He thanked me and wished me a Merry Christmas. Thankfully taking this for my dismissal I made my good-byes and left.

As I left The Cottage and stepped outside, I wondered how I was going to get back to San Francisco from San Leandro at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve. My Ford was back at the office. Oh well, it was just part of the job.

A couple of questions were never answered. How did my boss and Charlie get to the East Bay in the first place without wheels?

And since they were both married men what possible explanation were they able to give their wives on how they spent Christmas Eve?

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Last Update:12/1/98

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