...leave well 'nuff alone.
When it comes to relationships and getting involved on the job, my advice would have to be this, “never eat where you shit!” My experience at the first TV station I worked would be one that would follow me through life and change my outlook on everything I did.
I went to college to study broadcasting and as soon as I left school, I tried to break into the business without any success. I wound up taking a measly job at a hospital business services office, clearly out of my line of work. After 5 years, I said enough was enough. I decided to sacrifice everything to finally do what I always wanted, work in television. My first job was as a part-time news editor at a TV station in Augusta, Georgia. It was good experience for me and I finally thought I was breaking through.
Until she arrived.
The minute “Wendy” walked through the door; something seemed to snap in my head. I was just in awe of her. Her shoulder length blonde hair & aqua blue eyes were just a sight to see. She was in a pinstriped professional ladies suit, jacket and slacks, as if she was going to court for a big trial. I introduced myself and asked her if she was ready for Augusta. She replied, “I’m ready as I can be.” She seemed to be very excited about her new job as a reporter. In fact, every guy she was with seemed to have an effect on them as well.
My work colleague from another TV station had lunch with me the next day. “Craig Rizzo”, was notorious for going after everything that moved. I guess you could call him a gigolo. He proceeded to tell me he opened up a conversation with her during an after work party. “She seems nice.” he said to me as I grabbed a bite. “I’m not sure if I can stand a chance with her, she seems like she’s taken”. Anxious to lead him astray, I just said to him, “Sometimes you just get to the point when you just leave well ‘nuf alone.”
Wendy seemed to be a real gem, a diamond in the ruff, or so I thought. During one of our evening stories we took a break for supper. Wendy and I had a quick sit down meal. I learned about whom she was, where she grew up what her interests are. She told me she was from Chattanooga, Tennessee. She attended school at the University of Tennessee and graduated in 1993. Her first job in TV was in Johnson City, just west of Knoxville. I said to her, “What was it like going to school at UT? She says in her bright, southern accent, “It was one of the finest institutions of learning.” I said to her, “You know, I was this close to going to Arizona State. My only problem was finances.” She seemed to be enjoying my conversation. Just out of the blue, I told her, “You know, I think I may have found my soul mate.” She was rather surprised by my remark and seemed to be very flattered by it. I never got any kind of bad vibes from her indicating she was embarrassed or angry. We exchanged phone numbers and said that we would be friends. However, I never saw what was coming next.
For the next few days, I tried calling her a few times and each time I got her recorded message. One afternoon Wendy and I were paired up for a live shot. During the drive I asked her why she would not return my calls. She then said the words I would come to regret hearing, “I’m dating Craig Rizzo.” I put the breaks on the vehicle, coming to a sudden stop. I screamed out, “What?” She repeated her answer to which I replied, “You got to be kidding? I thought we had a good thing going.” I felt like I was losing her just like every other girl I had. I poured my heart out to her. “Look, I really like you. I think you’re a wonderful lady. And I want to take this to the next level.” She then says to me, “Look, you’re a very handsome man. I’m sorry if I’ve hurt your feelings. But it won’t happen now or ever.” After that conversation, everything changed. My thoughts for her went from feelings of joy to feelings of spite. My life was in a tailspin after that.
To make matters worse, she went to management about my behavior. We both went into the office and the news director wanted to get things straight. She completely changed her tune and accused me of harassment, repeating the exact words I said to her in the vehicle. The news director had Wendy leave the room and proceeded to tell me that I was probably going to lose my job because of my behavior. I pleaded that this was a misunderstanding and this was a personal thing between me and her. But he didn’t want to hear it.
I got my first taste of why a union job was very important. Without a union, you were at the company’s mercy. I was a dime a dozen to management. They could get some average “Joe” off the street and have him or her do my job for about half the salary. Don’t believe that crap that you see in the newspaper ads about experience. It’s all bullshit!
That evening, I received a telephone call at work. “Hello.” The other line was quiet and then I heard a voice. “It’s Craig Rizzo.” My heart dropped. My emotions were all over the place. He had the nerve to call me. He goes on to say, “I want you to leave Wendy alone”. The tone of conversation got pretty heated on his end. I said to him without being too loud, “Now you look here, don’t you dare threaten me! She was supposed to be mine! I told you that you ignorant prick! Leave her alone! You hear me?” I hung up the phone with such force that the phone cracked. A few people in the newsroom were scared from the sound. They didn’t ask what was wrong.
I got off work at 11:30pm and I was totally pissed. Thoughts were going through my head about what they were doing. At this point, I didn’t care about my job anymore. All I knew was that I had to confront Craig and tell him exactly what I thought. The next night as my shift was ending, I saw Craig at the back door picking up Wendy. I was furious, insanely jealous. I drove to his place of work and confronted him. I screamed out, “I told you she was mine you prick!” I shoved him back, but didn’t punch him. I thought about it, but I didn’t do it. Craig was completely scared, sweating like a pig getting ready for slaughter. I replied to him, “You realize what you just did? Because of you, I have nothing! I don’t even care about my job anymore.” Craig said, “I’m gonna call the cops.” I screamed out, “Go ahead and call them ya fuckin’ pussy! You’re nothing but a faggot!” I left and went home. I felt good, but in the back of my mind, I knew I probably wouldn’t have a job. The deeper I got in, the harder it was for me to get out.
The next morning I went to work and the News Director called me into the General Manager’s office. The General Manager says to me, “I think you know what you’re in here for.” I said, “Yes, I do.” He then told me about how I stalked her. I said, “What are you taking about? First of all, that had nothing to do with her. Second, this was between me and Craig.” The General Manager didn’t want to hear it. He was not in the mood for discussion. Once again, I had no representative and no legal advice. I was escorted out of the building.
Once I left the station, I just walked. I must have walked for about 5 miles. And I didn’t care, either. Once I got home, I called Wendy. Of all the other times she didn’t answer the phone, this time she did. I said to her, “I hope you’re happy. Because of your complaining, I’ve lost my job.” I then said to her, “I hope you get exactly what you deserve. I hope you get everything you want in life because it’s a hard life being by yourself.” She abruptly said, “Don’t call me anymore!” and hung up the phone.
The situation just ate at my heartstrings. I said to myself, how did I let myself get to this point? It was clear I was having a nervous breakdown. I checked myself into a mental health treatment center as I had some serious issues to deal with. From relationships, my job and even my past hardships. They just seemed to come together at the same time. During my time in rehab, I received a letter in the mail. It was my employer. They didn’t have the balls to fire me in person. They sent it to me certified mail. I just threw it in the trash. Come to think of it, I should have kept that letter and framed it on my wall to show other members how important it is to have union representation, no matter what your situation is.
It took me two weeks but I finally got out of rehab. When I did, I found myself under arrest by the police for my behavior with Craig. After posting bail, I pleaded guilty and the judge fined me $170 dollars and placed me on probation for a year, he said if I stayed clean the charges would be dropped. The judge also allowed me to look elsewhere for work in my field. Standing in the courtroom, I thought he was going to throw the book at me. He was pretty fair and understood what I was going through.
It took me 3 months, but I got another job. This time it was back in my home state of New York. A small town called Elmira, NY. The money was even less than what I was making before in Augusta. It was a stable broadcasting job. I knew it was going to get worse before it got better. I used my news photography experience to my advantage and making demo tapes for the next available news photographer opening in another market. After another 5 months, I eventually I moved on to my current job in Syracuse, a job I haven’t left since.
But I swore never to get involved with someone from my work again. I had to separate work from personal stuff. That’s why I guess I never had many relationships in the past. I was afraid of what could happen next. It also made me pro-active when it came to my career. Never would I be emotionally involved with anyone else on my job. From the moment I walked into my next job, it would only be the job and I. That saying about never leaving well ‘nuff alone? Maybe I should’ve taken my own advice.