Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Welcome to my first day in the new, HARRIDAN-FREE job assignment!

At the moment, it's lunchtime, and since I'm not able to connect to the wireless web from here... apparently in this building, the signal isn't strong enough for my device to pick it up... I'll just sit down at the ol' word processor and create a blog post THAT way.

Ironically, this might be the only computer in the whole building that anybody's working on right now, because we are in the midst of a power failure that sent the whole building into darkness about five minutes ago. Everything, and I do mean EVERYthing, appears to be off. It's been so windy for the past day or so, I wouldn't be surprised if a downed tree or something to that effect was the culprit.

In any event, if the electricity Gremlins were going to show up, from where I sit it's just as well that they arrived as I was starting to eat lunch. That way, at least between now and 1 PM it's not going to make any difference to my training whether we have power or not.

On the other hand, the person who is training me was going to attend a seminar during the lunch hour. This could goof that schedule up, at which point it'll be anybody's guess what time my training resumes.

But as far as I can tell, this morning has gone very well. Jeannie V showed me how to input data into the company's computer system, and I took notes while she put the first couple documents in. Then it was my turn, and I was able to work from my notes without any trouble. I input the next two myself and she seemed very pleased with how that turned out. Then came lunchtime, and here I am typing on my handheld PC and being glad that there's a skylight right near this desk so it's not toooo dark in this vicinity.

I just heard someone say that the power failure encompasses all of Cherry Hill, NJ. Dang. That's some blackout.

Wow, btw... in the space of ten minutes, three people have stopped by my desk to make sure I'm OK, and I haven't even worked here for four hours yet. In the entire two months I worked at Harridan Central, I didn't merit that much concern from people who worked there. Shoot, there were still some people who didn't have my NAME right, after all that time... At the end of the day, when I thanked everyone and said that it was my last day on the assignment at Nameless Nationwide Department Store, I got one "Good luck, Debbie" amidst the well-wishes from the few people that responded at all. I am SO glad to be out of that assignment!

On to more pleasant subjects. The past few days have been kind of nice. I forget where I left off writing when I finished my most recent post, and without the ability to get online at the moment I'll just have to wait until I get home to see. For now, I'll just recap the main points...

Thursday night was the Flyers' home opener. Hat Trick and I went, and we had the pleasure of watching Jeff Hackett earn a shutout in his first game as a Flyer. Consider this Goalie Junkie to be WELL pleased. :o)

Actually, I was well pleased before the game even began. Former Phantom/Flyer Andy Delmore is with the Buffalo Sabres now, and it was nice to see him again. When he was here with Nashville a couple seasons ago, he made a point during the pregame skate of noticing all the Phantoms fans gathered around the glass, and doing stretches and stuff in front of each of them for a while. :o) I love the way he acknowledges the people who "knew him when", in the years before he made it to the NHL. But it's been nearly two years since that visit -- Nashville didn't visit here last season -- and on top of that, thanks to traffic I didn't get to the pregame skate until about five minutes before it ended. I did manage to get a position down by the glass, but I wondered if he'd even notice my late arrival, much less remember me. I needn't have worried. Toward the end of the pregame skate... bless him for always being one of the last guys to leave the ice... he was going through his normal pregame stuff when suddenly he caught sight of me and broke into a big grin. :o) Yep, he remembered. And this is WHY he still has, and probably always WILL have, a crowd of Phantoms fans around the glass watching him during the warmups, no matter what team he belongs to: because he still shows appreciation for the support, years after the fact.

Friday night was the Phantoms' home opener. We came out very strong vs. the Binghamton Senators, and I thought that we were on our way to a win. Apparently, so did the Phantoms, and unfortunately they let the baby Sens back into the game. Bingo responded by taking the lead and winning. I could see by Neil Little's body language that he was aggravated when he let the second goal in, and REALLY ticked about the third one that got by him. I felt bad for him. But the rest of the team joined him in making a play here and there that they probably would like to have back. Such is life. Neil was in goal on the following two nights, as well, and he was flat-out solid. He won our road game in Bridgeport on Saturday night, then came home on Sunday and got a shutout :o)! I can't begin to tell you how I love watching my alpha goalie hand a goose egg to the opponent, especially when the other team is a big divisional rival like Norfolk. Needless to say, I was quite proud of him.

After Sunday's game, I had a little unexpected adventure. For starters, I'm gonna swat the postgame radio interviewer. LOL...

I presume at least some of this interview will eventually end up on David Unkle's program, because he does a biweekly Phantoms thing every other Tuesday afternoon. He interviewed Ben Stafford in Bullies after Sunday night's game. (Bullies is the restaurant/bar attached to the Spectrum.) Well, right at the end of the interview, doesn't the radio guy tell Ben, "Did you know there's a website with a 'Separated at Birth' showing Ben Stafford and a Rugged Rusty doll?"

I almost fell off my chair. THAT'S MY PHOTO SITE! I think I can count on ONE hand the number of people I've told about that site! Apparently it must have come up in a Google search for Ben's name.

LMHO... and in case you're wondering... go to http://gabey8.fotopages.com , head for the July 26 post, and judge for yourself if I'm right.

I brought it up on the wireless PC to show Karla, who was sitting at the same table with me, and after the interview Ben Stafford himself came over to see. Along with his g/f, the PR lady from the Phantoms front office, and a bunch of fans who had to take a look. OMG, lol... for the record, Ben's girlfriend, Melissa the PR lady, and a majority of fans think Ben and the doll look alike, although Ben himself disagreed.

I'm still halfway between laughing out loud and ready to die of embarrassment. I never expected anybody, outside of the people I KNOW and actually GAVE the URL to, to see that site! Much less a radio guy and Ben himself!

But what's even funnier is that over the summer, I actually BOUGHT a Rugged Rusty doll, a Teeny Beanie Bopper version, to give to Ben *because* I thought it looks so much like him. I had it at home and was waiting for the right time to present it to him. Even before David Unkle mentioned my little photo site, I'd figured that the Season Ticket Holder's "Meet and Greet" event, slated to take place on Tuesday 10/14, would be as good a time as any.

So, let's fast-forward to the Meet and Greet, shall we? I brought the Sacred Autograph Book... the sketch book I've been collecting autographs in since 1997... and got the signatures of the entire team other than Boyd Kane, who was called up to the Flyers earlier in the afternoon. I got to congratulate Neil on his shutout... and yet again, I got a smile out of watching Neil's reaction when he realized Mark and I were the next in the line of fans. :o) He's another one who never forgets a show of support, a trait of his which I admire at least as much as I do his accomplishments on the ice.

At the end of the event, Mark and I were among the fans who were still there. I'd wanted to catch Ben as he was leaving, so I could give him his little twin without the entire team seeing me do it. And of course, guess who was the LAST guy to leave? LOL. A couple of young fans were chatting with Ben, so I just waited my turn. I figured it was just as well he's gregarious, since the fewer teammates were around to make jokes if they saw me give him the doll, the better.

I called him over, and he grinned when he saw little Rusty. "Is that it? Can I see?" I handed him the doll, and he promptly started reading the little heart-shaped Ty ID tag, wherein it mentioned Rugged Rusty's name, birthdate, and favorite things.

"It says here he likes basketball", Ben noted.

"Well, that's OK, brothers don't always do everything alike", I answered.

He looked ready to laugh. (Personally, I had the impression that he was more convinced of the resemblance after seeing the actual doll than he'd been after viewing the thumbnail pic on a computer screen.) "Where did you GET this?", he finally blurted out.

"Lancaster, over the summer,".

"Well, that's pretty cool", he said, and started to hand me the doll.

"Oh, no, he's yours", I explained. (It never dawned on me he'd think I was only *showing* Rusty to him.)

"He is?" Ben looked surprised and pleased.

Mark chimed in: "Don't worry, she has another one at home". (At which point Mark got a swat on the arm.)

"Well, thanks! Thank you very much", said Ben, and then we all headed for the exit.

As for my wondering how a professional hockey player would react to being given a doll for a present? I needn't have worried. As Mark and I were walking out, I noticed that the first thing Ben did was show it to some of our front office/PR people who were collecting the decorations, pocket schedules, etc from the tables. "Look at this, can you believe it?"

LOL.... :o)

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