Monday, October 1, 2012

Anything for a story

Years ago, I was covering a football game at a high school in eastern North Carolina, and I used the principal's 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 in those days.

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! 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 the computer case with my left.

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

I slid down the wall to my full extension, and I realized there was nearly an eight-foot drop to the ground! So here I was, a 250-pound sports writer, hanging to the windowsill with one hand and desperately clutching that computer with the other. After a beat, I dropped into the mud below me, naturally, then slogged my way 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 (no cell phones back then, either). 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 call, turned off the light and went over and climbed out the window. I couldn't lower the window all the way, but it was close.

Finally, about midnight, a policeman came by, 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 Bubble.

Anything for a story.

CONTACT: Email me at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
• Advice for be and would-be novelists

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

EDITOR@WORK blog entries

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Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

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