Month of Gratitude-Day 7

Today I am grateful for my job, which lets me support my family and use my talents to educate and inform my community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a lot of the world into economic uncertainty, so employment itself is worth being thankful for. I am particularly blessed because I earn enough to support my little family in a comfortable, if humble, lifestyle.

What’s more, I am blessed to work with folks who — faced with significant challenges of their own — extend a great deal of understanding and grace in my direction. My peers help me celebrate wins, my supervisors save me from my own mistakes, and the folks I work with in the community are engaging and supportive.

Gearing up for a hurricane preparedness session

Since writing is a huge part of my identity, it’s delightful that so much of what I do is writing. Far more fulfilling is the work I get to do with people. I get to speak to youth and church groups, help other agencies get ready for emergency drills, visit businesses to talk about hazard preparedness, even assist schools with being safer and greener, and I love it.

Looking back, I have been very blessed indeed in my work life. At just 18, I learned how to work hard in a restaurant. Because it was a company that values progress and development, my college courses and later, my internship and even my first reporting job, could all be accommodated in my work schedule.

I was a drive thru queen

Some folks look down on “burger flippers,” but I learned a ton there, from cash handling to food safety and from dealing with complaints to managing inventory. I still get compliments on how friendly I sound over the phone. My voice was perfected over long hours working the drive thru speaker.

I’ve now made it one-quarter of the way through the month of gratitude. It’s been nice sharing here, and even nicer noticing how many things there are to be grateful for as I go about my days. I hope you are finding reasons to be grateful too!

Get to the source

“Whatever you read online, that’s the story and I’m not saying anything more.”

That’s what I was told recently when I called a public official about a certain story.

I was shocked. This relatively high-ranking officer was encouraging, insisting really, that I should not talk to a source who actually knew my story first-hand and should instead just read another reporter’s work and go with that.

Sorry, sir. I can’t do that. What I read online could be wrong. How would I know unless I check it out? I wouldn’t know, and neither would any of my readers.

I tried to explain that I didn’t need him to give me any NEW information if he couldn’t do that, but if he could just either confirm the reports or tell me they weren’t true—

At this point, he interrupted. He called me “young lady.” He told me he was upset that what was told to “the media” already didn’t seem to satisfy me. He sounded quite a bit more than upset.

I tried one more time. I said I really couldn’t put something in the paper based on what I read online.

Another interruption. Another shutdown. Another “I’m not saying anything else,” as though he’d told me anything at all in the first place. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a source so angry, and certainly not since coming here, where the rule is to be more polite than this California girl is used to.

I decided to cut my losses, just get his name and get off the phone before he had a chance to start insulting me. Of course he didn’t want to give me that either.

Praise be, I managed to get the story from someone else in time for this week’s issue.

Now I dread having to call that other public officer ever again. I’m certainly in no hurry to be on the receiving end of that level of hostility again. But I already know I will. Just like I call my other sources several times a day if I need to, just like I tried multiple times to explain what I needed to know to this person, and just the way we all have to keep pushing, keep pressing, keep digging, to get our stories.