Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

I had to shoot trick-or-treating tonight and happened upon a really cool haunted house. I accidentally changed my camera settings to monochrome (I didn't even know I could do that). Luckily, I liked the way it looked. And double-luckily for the newspaper, I figured out how to change it back. But, not before I made a picture that I liked in black and white.

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Come and get 'em, folks'

An audio slideshow of my latest photo column can also be viewed HERE.

Over the squeak of the wheels and rattling of carts, over the beep of the checkout counter and the crying of the babies, over the constant noise that is Costco Wholesale in Naples on a Saturday afternoon, a voice can be heard.

Protein bars! Come and get’em,folks. Have ’em on the golf course, folks.
Eat ’em while at the computer, folks. I’ve got protein bars, woo!

“If I wasn’t loud, the customers would think there was something wrong with me,” says Sheila Roughan. “They’d say, ‘Are you ill? Are you not feel ing good?’ ” Roughan, 53, is best known as the singing sample lady at Costco. She works for Club Demonstration Services, a company contracted by Costco to hand out product samples throughout the large box store.

Her sing-song style of serving customers everything from pastries to potato chips can be heard through the aisles. This day, she’s at the front of the store just behind the checkout lanes selling protein bars. It’s a premier spot where Roughan can persuade people they need a box of 18 for $17.49 before they head out the door.

Power bars, they’re chocolate and chocolate always makes ya feel good.
Take some hoooooome.

“She is the ultimate huckster, and I mean that in a wonderful way,” says Jerry Jackson, referring to Roughan’s showy style of pitching the products she sells. Jackson, a middle-aged, frequent Costco shopper, turns to Roughan, “I come here, in part, because I love seeing you on Saturdays.” She thanks him with a smile and tells him it’s her honor.

He proceeds to checkout and Roughan doesn’t miss a beat singing out to the customers moving in her direction.

No one would believe the spunky redhead is shy. But, before she got the job at Costco three years ago, she was.

Roughan has dyslexia and bipolar disorder — two things that have, in the past, made her reserved.

“The job changed her life to a great degree,” said Roughan’s father, Fred. “She was always shy and conscious of her handicap and consequently always stayed in the background.”

Those days are gone.

Roughan calls to everyone. She sings out with authority that they will love what she has to sell them. Customer after customer comes to her smiling and laughing about her delivery. Half of her customers seem to buy the product less because they love protein bars, and more because they love to buy them from her.

Come on over and try some, pleeeeease take some home.

“She’s the best, she’s so energetic,” said Naples resident Sandy Piekarski between bites of a chocolate protein bar. “It’s fun, she’s got great spirit.”

That’s what makes Roughan love coming to work.

“I just have fun, otherwise it would be boring,” Roughan said. “I put a smile on people’s faces.”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

She's One of the Boys

I'm a little late in posting. Life has been crazy. I'll try to update more often.

She hits like a boy, blocks like a boy and loves sports like the boys.

The only thing that gives her away on the field is her ponytail.

Gianna Rose, pictured above, is the only girl on her pee wee football team. In fact, she’s the only girl out of about 120 football players in the Marco Island Eagles Youth Football Organization.

The blonde ponytail hangs just past her shoulders, sticking out from under her helmet, as she crouches until the snap. She fires up and explodes, shov­ing her hands into the chest of her opponent while 20 boys wait their turn during drills on a recent evening at Mackle Park on Marco Island.

“You guys watch Gianna — she’s one of our best blockers out here,” said Jim Prange, the assistant coach whose son also plays for the Golden Eagles. “We need a few more girls on this team.”

The boys groan.

Gianna doesn’t flinch.

“Some girls are afraid to hit, but I’m not,” Gianna said.

The 9-year-old Tommie Barfield Elementary School student has had a passion for football since she was a baby watching New York Giants games from her high chair. Her mom has the pictures to prove it.

“I’ve been around football my whole life,” she said. “I just love it so much and I watch it all the time, so I actually know what to do.”

She plays running back and tight end, but if she had her choice of any position, she would play wide receiver so she could get her hands on the ball and make touchdowns.

“She’s probably a better athlete than 50 percent of the boys out here,” said Joe Bartos, a parent and coach with two sons on Gianna’s team.

The sun sets beyond the park as five teams in the organization — two pee wee, two junior and one senior team — get ready for the upcoming Saturday game. Gianna pulls out her mouth guard and spits. Between plays she scraps in a harmless push-and-shove with her opponents and slaps teammates on the shoulder pads with kudos for a job well done.

“From an attitude standpoint, I wish I had 22 just like her,” said Eagles head coach Greg West.

Her heart for the game shows as she’s one of the first to the line and first to the huddle.

“She has so much enthusiasm for this,” said her mom Daneen Rose, who supports her daughter’s love of the game, but didn’t always like the idea of her being on the field.

“After I saw her play (in the first game) I was much calmer,” said Rose, who helps coach her other daughter, Francesca, 5, on the Eagles cheerlead ing squad.

But, Gianna’s never been scared to play and she knows the boys underes timate her. She uses it to her advantage.

“They don’t think I’m tough,” Gianna said. “And then I go up against them and I nail them, and they’re like ‘whoa.’ ”

Practice is almost over. A few more plays left before the teams head home.

“Hey G, ready to hit a boy?” said opponent Will Glasser, a boy her same age, but a couple inches taller.

Gianna crouches at the line, her green eyes focus on Will with a look that says he better watch out. She wasn’t only ready to hit a boy, she was ready to hit like a boy.