What was your worst day on the job? Not something you want to remember? Why? I cherish the worst day I exchanged hours of my life for the GREEN.
When you get gray in the hair, you sometimes start to think back about your worst day on the job. And I’ve got quite a bit of gray and have also realized I’m on the downward swing professionally. I’ve been at it longer than what I have left. So I thought – what was my worst day?
Easy. It came in August of 2002. Yep, a lot of you weren’t even born then, and if you were, you were toddling around in Huggies. Well in a normally hot summer August, I had a kind gentleman come into the offices at 203 Dixie Street.
Side note: I was young y’all. Really young. Tasked with a huge job that somebody my age probably shouldn’t have had. I didn’t know what I was doing, but working hard was (and still is) all I have ever known. Fake it till you make it, right?
So this fella comes to see me. He spins me a yarn about lawsuits and a BIG BAD BANK stealing his family land. He hits me with the figure of $250 BILLION. Yeah, billion. Not million. I get on the phone with his lawyer. It sounds like the story of all stories. 60 Minutes type stuff.
I didn’t think rationally. I thought competitively. All I wanted was to be first. All I wanted was to sell papers. I wanted to beat the Shreveport Times. I wanted to beat CNN. Hell, I wanted to win a Pulitzer Prize at 22.
So since I tell you it was the worst day professionally of my life, you can imagine what the result was.
There was no lawsuit. It was a scam. It was a sham. And for the life of me, I still don’t know what the endgame was. Maybe they just woke up one day and said “let’s see if we can get this young fool to run our bogus story and make him look like a jabroni.” Y’all like that word? Jabroni – thank you to The Rock.
Well, mission accomplished. I ran it. It was a lie. And before the clock struck five (the paper went out at 10 that AM) I was getting calls from lawyers in Atlanta. The bank’s lawyers. The big bank. One of the biggest bank chains in all of the world.
Oh lord, it was a mess. I thought I was gone. Jailed for defamation. Cut down before I even got started. And worse – sued into oblivion. I would get sued multiple times before all was said and done in that chapter of my life. Heck, being sued became commonplace – like changing socks. I was numb to it. That didn’t happen this go around. I did have a huge retraction to print, a come-to-Jesus meeting with the head of said LARGE bank chain in his office – that was fun – and pride so wounded I still have nightmares about it to this day.
But, in the end, it passed as all things do. Funny thing is, I am glad it happened. Anyone who knows me knows I am extraordinarily competitive and passionate. That’s how Yahweh made me. My good days aren’t as important as my bad days. I don’t learn from what I do right. But, brothers and sisters, let me tell you I do learn from my mistakes. I made a mistake that day. And I’ve made a whole heck of a lot of mistakes since then. Still make them with each passing 24 hours. Don’t get sued anymore, thankfully. A least not in the last decade.
Bad days are good. They are cool. They are welcome.
Mistakes make the person. Learning from them makes the soul.
It was a bad day in 2002.
But I’d take nothing for it.
Just…I hope I don’t have anymore quite like that again. NOTHING is as rough as staring down a group of Atlanta lawyers. And that isn’t even counting the time I was sued by the ACLU.
That was a bad day as well.
But that . . . is another story.
Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.
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