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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: My Favorite Holiday Bonus

Tom McEwen always played Santa Claus when we got our holiday bonus checks at The Tampa Tribune.

Tom lived larger than life as the sports editor/columnist at the Tribune. Those of us who worked for Tom loved him because he treated us like family. On top of that, he had this beautiful sense of humor that could come packaged in a one-liner or while delivering a story that would crack you up.

All of the sports reporters hovered in the office around the time Christmas bonuses were expected. Tom eventually would bound into the room carrying a stack of checks and declaring: “Your bonuses are here, dicks!”

One by one, we’d go into his office. He’d tell you how appreciated you were then he’d have something funny to say before handing over your check.

After receiving mine one year, I promptly went to the Wal-Mart on Dale Mabry to pick up some last-minute toys for the kids. During that visit, I noticed how beat down the employees looked. No doubt that coincided with constantly fielding customer complaints while dealing with the other demands of working at a retail store during the holidays.

But holy team building did I witness an immediate turnaround in moral when a man made the mistake of shoplifting something from the store.

Word about the theft came like a fire alarm, unleashing a herd of employees who dropped everything to give chase out into the parking lot.

Yes, they apprehended the man — he never had a chance as they would have chased him on foot to Gainesville. While doing so, they seemingly rid themselves of their built up holiday bile.

Here’s hoping a holiday bonus lands on your desk, dicks.