Irene North


How to make a bad day good, or Spike gets some cake

A proper piece of cake.

Tuesday. January 30, 2018.

It was a bad day at work for fellow reporter Charissa Bryce and me until Ag Editor Spike Jordan rolled in. He came in, sat at his desk and pretended to work for a bit before rolling over toward our desks in his black, high back chair.

“What are ya’ll doing today?” he asked.

“We are going to cover the airport today and SkyWest coming in,” I replied.

“Eh,” Spike said, rolling his eyes and shrugging his shoulders.

“There’s going to be cake,” Charissa said.

And then the day got better.

Spike’s eyes lit up. Free cake. We told him to come, but he had an interview at the same time. He said we were only going for the free cake.

Spike admitted to stuffing food into his pockets at a recent event. He had no shame about being “scumbag” Spike. The only reason to go is to steal food. Charissa and I laughed. Then, he explained the perfect way to take extra food from an event you attend.

“You need to sew Ziploc baggies into your pants, so you can stuff your pockets,” Spike said with a huge grin on his face. He then went on to explain that, if there was cake, you just pick it up with your hands and smash it into your pockets. The key, however, was to make sure there was no lint on your cake or it would be ruined. It was okay if your cake was smashed. Just get it into your pocket.

He talked about the free food we get as reporters. “Admit it,” he said. “You only cover BPW for the free food.” I nodded and laughed. Free food is always good.

Fun fact, Spike told us. Greg, our publisher, is a member of Rotary, but he never goes. So, whenever there’s a meeting, we should feel free to say, “’This is Greg’s plate,’ and they should give it to you. He already paid for it, so it would be going to waste if you didn’t eat it.”

“Yeah, people all around this country are hungry and it would be rude for me to go hungry as well,” Charissa said.

“We just need to get the paper to sponsor some event at the Longhorn Saloon,” I said. “Then we can all eat good food for free.”

“I probably could arrange something,” Spike said.

Spike was waiting for a fax from Sioux County. He had some paperwork to sign. Charissa asked him if he thought the Longhorn could fax him a chili cheeseburger.

“It would get stuck in the machine,” Spike replied. “And it would be gross.”

The topic changed to Spike’s father and he complained about his phone automatically becoming a Faraday cage. He has been having an argument with his dad about how much his dad looks like his great grandfather. His father doesn’t think so.

“He was trying to argue with me that he didn’t,” Spike said. “I told him, ‘Wrong, fella.”

After going through some old pictures with his mother, Spike now has a collection of family pictures on his phone to keep.

Topics of discussion ranged from writing a profile on a sugar beet to the ten bags the sugar beet will end up in to the Fort Robinson magazine I’m writing. It gave Spike a story idea for me, which sounded really interesting.

Spike noticed the sketch he made me of Mr. Potato Head was now taped onto my monitor. According to Spike, Mr. Potato Head has some terrible opinions and conspiracy theories. The sketch is a take off of a picture he drew about the Chicago Cubs’ bear who also believes in conspiracy theories.

“That cub has some terrible 9-11 truther things,” he said. “Everyone thought it was great when they won the World Series. I’m here to tell ya, it’s not what it seems.”

I felt the Cubs’ winning of the World Series was tainted because the Rickett’s family owns the team now. Spike agreed.

“It was good that they won and broke their hundred-year streak, but the fact that the Rickett’s family got a win out of it…”

Spike brought up another shitty thing the family did.

“The fact that Pistol Pete shut down Gothamist, the only good community newspaper in New York,” he said.

“I used to read it all the time and then it’s gone,” I replied emphatically. “Then, to be a dick, he deleted all the archives.”

“Yeah, so all the reporters couldn’t even go back and get clippings of their work,” he said.

Note: There appears to be some archives now.

After another discussion about the extra work we have, I mentioned I thought it was dumb to have so many special sugar beet editions of the Farm and Ranch section. Spike discussed his ideas he had, including a double truck of a sugar beet and descriptions of it, he said, “Fuuck.”

“See,” I said. “Spike has the same life motto as me.”

I feel like his has three ‘U’ in it though,” Charissa said. “Yours has only one short ‘U’ and it’s very short, bold, and has an exclamation point.”

“Mine actually has a ‘U’ with unnecessary umlauts,” Spike said.

We talked about other, self-incriminating things, like our opinions on the police, that are hilarious, but better left unsaid. Then, we got back to work. I finished up writing a profile on Emmanuel De Leon, a park ranger at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, cropped the photos and attached them to the story. By now, my stomach was growling.

Charissa and I decided to eat lunch at the Flight Deck Restaurant at the airport. Our burgers came with pickles. We both hate pickles so we wrapped them, first in my used napkin, then in Charissa’s. I didn’t want my camera bag to smell like pickles, so I rolled them in toilet paper.

I interviewed several people about SkyWest coming to Scottsbluff. Everyone was looking forward to finally having reliable air service, but, while they were all talking to each other, I quickly typed up the story and emailed it back to the Star-Herald. Then, Charissa and I grabbed some cake. It wasn’t chocolate, so we were slightly disappointed, but it’s cake, so it’s all good.

I spoke with Tammy Relka, owner of the Flight Deck Restaurant, who was serving the cake. We asked if we could take a piece of cake to Spike and told her our story. With a huge smile on her face, she said, “Sure,” and grabbed all the crumbled and crushed bits that end up on the knives used to cut the cake. Then, since she didn’t have any lint, she took a napkin and shoved it into the cake. We took another, nicely sliced piece of cake for Spike as well.

Spike’s special piece of smashed cake with used napkin.

Charissa quickly ran back to the car with both plates. We were moments away from watching the plane land. I texted Spike to tell him we were bringing him a surprise.

Spike’s poor responses for what Charissa and I were bringing him.

Out on the tarmac, we saw the plane come in. We took too long and Spike nagged us on Facebook.

We took our photos of the plane landing, taxiing through the water canon and coming to rest just outside the airport. We took a photo of the first person off the plane, but couldn’t find him to get his name, so we returned to the Star-Herald. Charissa suffered through my musical selections, as she does each time she rides with me.

Spike attempts to unravel what Charissa and I have brought him as a gift.

Charissa took both plates and put them on her desk. I gave Spike the pickles. He was really confused. He unrolled the toilet paper surrounding the pickles. Then he unrolled some more. When he reached the napkin, he gave us a look.

“Thanks for the pickles,” he said. He tried to give them back. We didn’t want them. Pickles are vile.

I looked at Charissa and said, “Give him his real gift.”

Charissa gave him his smashed caked with the napkin shoved in it. He thanked us for bringing him cake.

Spike is happy to get some smashed cake.

I smiled and nodded at Charissa. She returned to her desk one last time and got Spike the nicely cut piece of cake.

Spike is surprised, but pleased, Charissa and I got him a piece of non-smashed cake.

“Thank you very much,” he said with a grateful smile. Then he disappeared into the break room to eat his cake.

Spike walks away a happy boy to enjoy his cake.

Spike got some cake and he made our day a little bit better.


How did you choose that photo?


Done. Done. Done.


  1. Sandra Reddish

    Sooooo, the secret to a really good write-up is to give reporters free food. Okay then…

  2. Kathy Iles

    You don’t like pickles? What’s wrong with you?

  3. Jacqueline Zabeth

    I want some CAKE! y’all are too funny!

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