The moments that make my job worth it, the moments that make me love my job and bring me back to work each day are moments that are never written about or published.
As a journalist I have to take myself out of the story. I tell other people’s stories. I am a tool to tell those stories. But yet, when I’m interacting with people, things happen. I’m not invisible when I interview people.
So here’s some stories behind the stories, the behind-the-scenes things that make me love my job. I suggest you skim over the stories before you read my anecdotes, but do whatever you want.
Young Marines: These kids took the mock situation they did so seriously that they forgot I wasn’t one of the actors. I went to one of the rooms where they were taking care of a “sick person,” to take photos and they shooed me out of the room! They were told that reporters like to come to Red Cross shelters, but they have to ask permission before taking photos. I didn’t ask the kids so they shooed me away. After they realized their mistake, we laughed about it. Also, these were some of the most mature, considerate kids I’ve met. When the photographer from the paper came, one boy rushed to find him a chair during their classroom instruction time. When I interviewed one of the teenagers, I got wonderful, articulate responses. Usually when I talk to teenagers, I can’t get much out of them, but this story was a joy to work on.
Service dog: This story isn’t published yet, but I interviewed a woman who has a service dog for seizures. The dog quietly laid under the table we sat at, except for the times he was licking my toes. The owner apologized profusely and said he never did anything like that before. This dog first alerts her to her seizures by resting his head on her feet. He has been known to go to random people in stores and nudge peoples’ feet, only to find out that the person is having some sort of aches or pains. Once I heard this, the dog licking my feet made sense: he knew my feet were hurting (I’ve got REALLY messed up feet according to my chiropractor).
Blackberries: I’m not allowed to accept freebies of food or anything else when I’m on assignment. Sometimes I really don’t like having to turn people down with their offers, especially if I do really need that bottle of water they want to give me! But when I worked on this story, the woman from the berry farm managed to get me to eat berries, and even blackberries. I don’t even like blackberries, but these were delicious. She and I walked down the rows of berries as she showed me how to pick the perfect berries and how these berries were different from the ones in the grocery store. I only ate about five, and she wanted to send me home with some, but I declined. It was just so fun to spend time with someone who found joy in something as simple as picking berries and telling people about it. The best days at work for me are the ones where I get to talk to really passionate people. Passion is the key to getting a good interview from someone, I’ve found.
McSherrystown: There was multiple stories on the 250th anniversary of the founding of a nearby town that I wrote, so I won’t link to them all. When I went to one of the last events, there was a table of artifacts and momentos about the history of the town–250 years of history. At the end of the table, one of the articles I wrote was printed out on paperboard and displayed. It was so sweet to see that, and to see a story I wrote displayed alongside pieces of the town’s history. For a long time, I wanted to be a history teacher. When I decided to be a journalist, i realized I wouldn’t be teaching it, but recording it instead. That moment seeing my work displayed made that reality for me.