A.C. Snow

Snow: How does a $9.5 million man ask for a raise?

How does $9.5 mil man ask for raise?

By the time you read this, Eric Staal, star player and captain of the Carolina Hurricanes hockey franchise , may well have signed a new contract with the local team.

For some time, the question of whether the $9.5 million-a-year athlete would stay or go highlighted sports columnists’ commentaries.

I’ve been imagining how someone making $9.5 million a year might go about asking for a raise. Does he walk into the boss’s office, plunk himself down in a chair and say, “Boss, I gotta have a raise. Nine mil just doesn’t go as far as it used to. Have you noticed the high price of things these days? Why, a half-gallon of milk and a pound of bacon costs an arm and a leg.”

In some cases , a $9.5 million man might also add, “And now we have a little newcomer to feed at our house. Baby wipes and Pampers don’t come cheap. Also, the house is in dire need of a new roof and a paint job. So you see….”

Fortunately, sports stars such as Mr. Staal don’t have to go through the awkward ritual of asking for pay hikes. They hire agents to do it for them.

During my newspaper career, employees normally didn’t ask for raises. We just waited and hoped for them.

I remember a Raleigh Times reporter who went in to tell the executive editor, the late and likable Sam Ragan, that he was leaving for a better-paying job outside newspapering.

“Sorry to hear that, “ Sam said. “You’ve been a very good reporter, and we don’t want to lose you. Let me see what I can do and I’ll get back to you.”

The next day, Sam called the reporter in and said, “Good news! I got you a $2.50 per week raise!”

Goodbyes were said.

One of the most memorable job offers I ever received came from the publisher of a newspaper in a nearby county seeking to lure me away from the Times.

When I noted that I’d be making $5 less per week as editor of his paper, the publisher mentioned fringe benefits.

“Such as?” I asked.

“Well, for one thing, once a month you’d be covering the county commissioners’ meeting at the Country Club. And you’d get a very good free lunch out of it!”

Anyway, a member of our Times staff had already warned, “A.C., you don’t want to work for that newspaper. When I was there, reporters had to turn in the stubs of their pencils in order to get new ones.”

I’m happy to report that newspaper salaries are more competitive these days. But pay scale still lags a tad behind those at businesses such as the one Eric Staal has worked for during the past six years.

I harbor no criticism of Mr. Staal and other well-heeled athletes. I’m merely using his lucrative salary as another example of our culture’s questionable priorities.

Those priorities, for the most part, shamefully shortchange such vital professionals as teachers, police officers, firemen and nurses while over-compensating and idolizing sports professionals and other entertainers.

Quitting

Quite a number of you responded to the column on smoking.

Reader Jim Richmond remembers that when he was in UNC law school, a visiting prof from Duke taught one of his classes.

“He was in the process of quitting smoking and having a hard time of it,” Jim wrote. “One could tell by the way he held a pen or a piece of chalk that he wished it was a cigarette. At the end of the course, one brave student asked him if he thought he would ever smoke again. The professor said he didn’t know for sure, but that he did know for damn sure that he would never quit again.”

We who have given up the ugly habit know that quitting is the hardest part of the process.

Keepers

I enjoy e-mail contact with the Rev. Dr. William Simpson, former Edenton Street UMC church pastor, now retired and living in Burlington.

In a recent message, he mentioned the importance of good friends in our lives and that many of us maintain contact with them over the years, even if they live in distant locations. His conclusion is well worth remembering:

“Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there. Keep them close!”

Snow: 919-836-5636; asnow@newsobserver.com

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