Best Morning Ever!
Back in February, I shared several of my favorite days, culminating of course with the best day of my life – so far, anyway – February 9, 1964.
This week I remembered one very special morning.
First, a little background. I spent much of my career at that bastion of testosterone, ESPN. If you are a competitive person, boy, have I got a job for you. But some gentle souls worked there too. (Thank God.)
Mark was in Program Finance. That’s where financial analysts formulate budgets for shows. If you’re an accountant, that’s as close as you get to fun.
Mark had six young children. Back in the olden days (like when I was growing up), lots of families had six kids. But by the 90s, it was pretty rare. But Mark and his wife both came from very big families, so it was normal for them. I remember their oldest daughter telling me that when they went to their grandmother’s house for Christmas, they needed five high-chairs just for the baby cousins.
A small three-bedroom house was home to Mark. He and his wife in one bedroom, the girls in another, and the boys in the third. That could have turned out pretty unfair if there was one boy and five girls, but luckily, there were three girls and three boys. Even-steven, as my mother would say. Mark told me that they had considered buying a bigger house, but he said that he grew up that way and he had a very happy childhood. “Kids don’t need privacy,’ he said. “They need each other.”
Mark’s kids were really nice. I would take all his six over the boss’s two anytime. (Even over one.) His kids were sweet and funny and pretty well-behaved. For kids. One year, Mark even took the whole family to Florida on vacation – and DROVE there.
“How in the world can you manage six kids in the car from Connecticut to Florida?” I asked.
“The big kids help with the little kids,” Mark said proudly. Then he added, “But I admit that I have a lot more to threaten them with on the way down than on the way back.”
Everyone at ESPN works a shitload of hours. Nights, weekends. Every day is a sports emergency.
But one Sunday, when Mark went to the office to finish up a project, he found he was the only one in our little Finance building. He was relieved, since his wife was away and he had had no choice that day but to bring along the kids.
So he gave the kids a project of their own. He sent them around the office to collect the phone numbers of every phone in every cube – more than thirty, as I recall. Then, while he worked on his hockey budgets, he had them call every number and leave a message.
We all reluctantly dragged ourselves in to start another week. And every accountant and finance geek had a message.
We had a joke.
A little kid had left a joke on each person’s voice mail.
“What did the pen say to the pencil? You’re looking sharp!”
“Did you hear the joke about the roof? It’s over your head!”
“What did one elevator say to the other elevator? I think I’m coming down with something!”
“What did the hamburger name his daughter? Patty!”
“What has four wheels and flies?” A garbage truck!”
And all of us over-educated over-worked over-achievers spent the first hour of the day going from cube to cube to listen to little children’s voices telling the world’s corniest jokes.
Best Monday Morning Ever!