I don't know about you, but I've sure had a weird month at work. I've caught bosses and coworkers having deep conversations and at times getting into rather heated arguments.
Their topic? Results of the previous night's basketball games.
Case in point: I walked into the newsroom Friday morning and quickly realized I needed to walk very gingerly. On first inspection, it appeared as if Editor Randy Cauthron and Reporter Gabe Licht were seated in their separate corners. Randy was a bit growly and Gabe appeared to be as happy as a clam.
As I spent time with each individually (as the other left the room), I found out why their moods were polar opposite. Randy explained he'd gone to bed Thursday night with his pick for NCAA champion solidly leading on the scoreboard. But upon awakening Friday morning, he realized his "champion" Duke had lost and his bracket hopes had crashed. I won't repeat the naughty words that departed his lips as he told me this emotional tale.
Gabe's teams, on the other hand, apparently fared well Thursday night. I publicly apologize to Gabe because he told me in great detail about their glorious wins, but I tuned out after the first few words. Instead of listening, I volunteered to make coffee while he was describing UConn's win over San Diego State. However, Gabe was once again relishing in his teams' glory when Publisher Paula Buenger sat down and began visiting about her teams' losses the night before, especially considering her love for Duke. Once again, the newsroom was ablaze with raised voices as both discussed this year's tournament of upsets.
Sports Editor Jeff Hasselmann is another tale when it comes to this time of year. Ever since he first set foot in the newsroom six years ago, Jeff has hounded me for money in March. I've explained to him year after year that I'm not a betting person. Strong-willed person that Jeff is, he's ardently continued to recruit me by describing the sense of wonderment I'd experience when I won everybody else's money. As Jeff, who marked his final day in the newsroom Friday, showed Zach Jevne, his successor, around this week, the rabid gentlemen I work with seemed ecstatic when they learned that Zach will definitely be taking part in what I see as mad sporting conversations next year.
If you hadn't already gathered, I haven't been affected by the "March madness." Just the opposite actually, I'm relatively calm and happy.
When my coworkers commiserate about brackets around the company coffee pot, my suggestion to them is to buy another piece of hardware to brace the shelf holding their cups in place. But when they start talking about seeds, this farm girl's mind races to being able to get in a tractor with a planter behind it. I'm ready for the planting of corn and soybean seeds. That's what late March means to me.
Just to give you another small insight into how tough it has been here at work this month, the "March madness" has clearly continued in the newsroom as I've attempted to write this column. As I've tossed ideas and questions to my peers, I've received one of two responses from them. Gabe has immediately begun to argue with me as I've told him my picks for the Final Four, (listed below), and Randy quietly sat in his office. I believe he's laughing with me. (I hope you're smiling, too.)
OK, here goes. It's been a long month and I'm tired of the pressure. I've had enough. I'm going to break down and give you my picks for the Final Four this year. They are, of course, in no particular order. My completely unscientific reasoning why follows each pick.
* Kentucky: I appreciate cats and I've encountered some who sometimes get wild. I definitely wouldn't pick any team with a snake for a mascot. I can't stand snakes; they scare me.
* Connecticut: I traveled to Boston, Mass., my freshman year at college. Since I have a Boston Bruins jersey hanging in my closet and have walked parts of the Freedom Trail, nearby Connecticut is a solid bet.
* Notre Dame: I have a shirt featuring a little fighting guy that my friend sold me several years ago. He's apparently the team's mascot. Gabe and Randy are both telling me he apparently didn't fight hard enough this year.
* Florida: As I mentioned this basketball team's name, Gabe coughed with disgust as he asked, once again, with plenty of emotion and, I'm sensing, some competitiveness, "You're not picking Florida, are you?" My matter-of-fact response to him was, "Well of course I'm picking Florida. That's where Disney World is ... and I want to visit."
Let it be known that had I cared enough to fill out a bracket with seeds, these selections would be tops in our office pool.