It was a hero, a gas truck, Dunkin Donuts and dirty blue coveralls that put me on the road to OTT

December 24, 2019

An ode to my Uncle Bob on what would have been his 78th birthday

As a little boy I knew with absolute certainty that my Uncle Bob hung the moon. I didn’t actually see him do it, but I knew. I know Bob hung the moon. When Bob would smile, or laugh, or smile and laugh while cracking a joke, everyone within a hundred feet instantly felt better.

When I was 5, while out for a walk, I never let Bob get more than a few feet ahead of me

Bob had the best job in the world and I wanted to be him. He drove a Mobil Oil gas delivery truck. On those hot, sticky summer nights, after he’d worked all day, he changed from his dirty blue coveralls to his softball uniform. Bob played softball for Dunkin Donuts. I’m sure he’d have played for the Detroit Tigers, if they had known how to find him. We didn’t have cell phones or the Internet back then.

When I was 12, Bob died suddenly of a heart attack. I’d lost my hero

Or, did I?

I swear, until I was in my late-twenties, whether I was playing baseball, or hockey, or running a marathon, I’d see him. He was always in the crowd cheering for me to keep trying, to keep my chin up, to do my best. He was never there after the game ended, or when I crossed the finish line, only during the events. Quite frankly, I’ve always thought it a little weird that Bob never stuck around after events. Still, since he’d passed away years earlier, I was always thankful he came to watch nonetheless.

We are all the sum of our life’s experiences, of the people who have helped shape us

I figured that out recently while watching my streaming show, 5 Over-the-Top Question (5OTTQs). I had secretly fired up 5OTTQ on the Roku TV at my wife Annette’s West End Diner. I was essentially incognito, wearing a baseball cap and a winter coat, watching people as they watched 5OTTQs.

My guest was Chris Cornelius. He’s a big deal in the broadcast world and the big brother of my very good high school friend, Cathy. Chris was a spectacular guest, spot on with his answers.

On lighting, sound and camera 1, was Rachel Brecht. By day, Rachel runs ads sales and affiliate relations for Syncbak. Producing a TV show is not her regular gig, yet there she was, producing a TV show.

Garvin Lewis ran the switcher, which I know from experience, is the most nerve-wracking of all OTT duties. As host, if I flub a question, viewers at home laugh. If Garvin screws up, you see it live on the stream. Garvin is an ad ops aficionado, yet there he was, producing a TV show.

So… What about Bob?

As I watched the people watching 5OTTQs, I couldn’t help but think about Bob. I couldn’t help but think that maybe Bob was there that night, though he probably left before I stepped off the stage.

It is likely that Chris, Garvin and Rachel each had their own version of Uncle Bob there that night. How else could four people summon the courage to “go live and straight-to-OTT” unless somewhere along the way each of us had an Uncle Bob?

So, think about what I am trying to convey here. Think about who helped you get to here. After that, think about who you personally can help get to there, wherever there is. I know that’s what Bob would want me to do.