Tuesday, July 06, 2004

From the In Box: Newspaper Chase VIII

Holy cow! Getting on Gawker earned me some great email. Not only did Nick Parish, sports writer for the New York Post, and Sunny Lee, who writes the Daily News' "Today in New York" column, send in hellos, I heard from a former "Gridlock Girl":

I read your Newspaper Chase VIII via Gawker and I had to write you. I'm surprised/thrilled to know that someone actually knows who Gridlock Sam is. You see, early in my writing career, I wrote the GS columns. Sam typically doesn't pen his column; he hires young writers to do it.

When I was there, I'd go in to the office in the morning (Sam's company, SSC, and clip the day's column from the DN for filing. Then I'd look over DOT (Dept. of Transportation) reports, peruse past columns for annual events, and write the traffic forecast. At about 11, I'd sit down with Sam and he'd review my work -- sometimes he'd rip it apart, sometimes he wouldn't touch a thing (the hokier, the better). After that, I'd re-edit, send the column over to the Daily News, and spend the rest of my day looking busy. Depending on the season, I'd work on the annual parking calendar.

In any event, it was a great experience overall. It was my first "real" job out of college and I was able to get a full time salary (well, depends on how you look at it -- I made about 25K the year I worked there) while in grad school at nearby NYU. The engineers and planners working at SSC were a fun, young, raucous bunch. We were encouraged by Sam to do stuff together outside of work -- there was the annual trip to Shea, office softball games, and many many lunches (with drinks) at the Mexican restaurant downstairs from the office. (A few hook-ups as well.)

While Sam and I had a great working relationship, we didn't part on friendly terms: Essentially, I was fired after asking for a raise. (I'm sure he doesn't see it that way.) It worked to my benefit, though; a month after I was fired, I got a job as an associate editor for a trade mag, complete with pay increase and -- shock!! -- a byline. -- Laura Kenyon

Hold the phone. Next you'll tell me that the Slammer doesn't write his column either.

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