Thirty-five

Now that I’m thinking about it, what I asked of my boss in the fall of 1968 was irresponsible. Sure, I was still a kid, all of 18. But that’s no excuse.
I had been hired the year before, at only 17 years old, to be the local newspaper’s sports writer while I was in college. I fell in love with the job and frequently skipped classes to hang out in the newsroom. Journalism would become my lifelong career. But that fall I guess I loved something even more. My girlfriend.
She was away at college and begged me to join her for homecoming weekend. My primary responsibility at the paper was to cover high school football games, so you can see the rub. Asking my boss for a weekend off at any time was a big ask, but during football season?
Still, I asked.
I told him I was fully aware the pressure it would put on him and rest of the staff, but sounding like a kid in front of his dad, pleaded my case. I really, really, really wanted to go.
I was taken aback at how understanding he was. “Eddie,” he said, “I wasn’t born 35 years old.”
My plan during those early years at the paper was to move on after college. But I wound up staying for 23 years. That understanding boss had a lot to do with it.
I was still working there when I turned 35 and when I did, I reminded him of how he’d handled that homecoming request and what it meant to me.
This story is on my mind today because on Monday my son will also turn 35.
Another three-and-a-half decades have gone by. Just like that.

Ed Ackerman