I remember feeling like the new kid in school with nowhere to sit during lunch. That’s a feeling I swore I’d never put myself through since my first painful day freshman year in a new high school. But nevertheless, there I was, a nervous wreck -- sweaty palms and all.
Ain’t no half steppin’. I gotta make the most of the opportunity.
I’m certainly not as cool or have as much swag as Big Daddy Kane, but if the montra worked for him why not me?
I'm referring to my first day covering the New York Giants training camp -- a call up to the big leagues, so to speak, from having covered the crosstown Jets for the previous three years. I had learned a lot while covering the Jets as a naive journalism graduate from Hofstra University and self-marketing might've been at the top of the list. If for no other reason than I was never good at it. But this time around, I told myself things would be different.
As the Giants took the practice field and rookie Ryan Nassib fired corner endzone fade routes in endzone 7-on-7 drills, I recognized a reporter I grew to enjoy reading. In the interest of full disclosure, I found myself more starstruck by the big reporters covering team more so than the players on it. So when a friend of mine went to introduce me to New York Post national NFL writer Bart Hubbuch, I was a little nervous. Who knows? Maybe it could be a foot in the door at the Post.
Reminding myself to not stumble over my words and wiping the perspiration from my palms, I walked up to the adjacent sideline with my friend, Dan, as he greeted Hubbuch and introduced us.
“How ya doing, Bart? I’m a big fan of your work,” I said, trying to hide the excitement in my voice.
We exchanged pleasantries and he held his hand out to shake hands. I obliged and aimed my right hand to lock thumbs with his -- just one aspect at achieving the perfect handshake. There may be nothing more telling of a man than his initial handshake, in the business world especially. You never get a second chance a good first handshake. But I digress. As our hands zero in to each other, I make sure to maintain strong eye contact. After all good eye contact represents confidence. We have a firm shake, equally clenched before our signals got crossed up.
I have always thought of a good handshake as a good sporting news article -- packs a punch in a limited time. A strong hand embrace, a good clench, a solid two-shake and then release. Apparently Hubbuch didn’t share the same theories on a handshake as I did. Following the second shake I went to release my hand from his. He did not.
What resulted was one of the more awkward professional exchanges in my young life. It felt like he had my limp hand locked into his for an eternity, although it was probably more like five seconds at most. We both acknowledged what was happening with our eyes, but not our mouths, which made the situation that more awkward.
The conversation that ensued was short-lived as all I could think about was the botch-job that was my first handshake with a reporter I admired. Needless to say, there was no job offered in conversation following the handshake.Much like how you never get a second chance at a good handshake, you never get a second chance at making a first impression -- even as I very much wanted a do-over with Hubbuch.