You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy™
Contemplating a career change.
It happens to the best of us. As they say; nobody is irreplaceable. Eventually, the new guy is cheaper and more desirous to management than the old guy. It’s just the way of the world.
It’s that new car smell, so to speak.
Younger, faster, sleeker, shinier.
I’m not saying my company is going to toss me to the curb, but then again, I’m a bean counter’s stomach ache away from getting the ax. We all are.
So as I mull over the possibility of eventually being replaced
It begs the question….
WHAT ELSE WOULD I DO?
My mother once said:
YOU HAVE THE ONLY JOB THAT REWARDS YOU FOR BEING AGGRESSIVE, IMPATIENT, AND BORDERLINE RUDE.
I always think about that statement.
You know what?
I don’t know if those are the ingredients for being a good reporter, but they have served me well.
I don’t think about being aggressive when I knock on a door. I just know I’m ready for anything.
I don’t think about being rude to the guy lying to my face, I just keep pressing him on the facts.
I don’t think about being impatient when I ask the secretary to send me the information for the second time in 5 minutes. I just know I need what I need when I need it.
It’s the secret sauce to what I do.
Aggressive. Impatient. Rude.
Mom was on to something.
Acting that way when you are 5-years-old means you go to time out.
Acting that way when you are on a murder investigation, often means you get the exclusive.
Rude. Aggressive. Impatient.
It’s the DNA to journalistic success.
I’ve tried other techniques. Sugar gets you flies and promotes cavities, but doesn’t usually yield results.
You gotta be tough, firm, relentless.
The way to the truth doesn’t come with a treasure map. There is no X marks the spot. There are no directions on the back of the box like you’re baking cookies.
For me, Aggressive, Rude, Impatient is a chemical equation that works. It’s a precise balance of components necessary to achieve maximum success.
Now in my 5th decade of chasing leads, I wonder, How much longer do I have?
How many more years can I stand in the rain at a flood? How many more years can I knock on the felon’s door, eye balling the curtains for movement, wondering if shots will be fired from within? How many dogs will nip at my leg? How many toothless fools must I endure? How many more years can I make the same beat check to the same cop asking for the same secret information?
Eventually the game ends and you gotta call it quits?
And when that day comes, then what?
What else could I do? What else would I want to do?
What career would give me that jam? What occupation would entice me to get out of bed and push onward into the unknown?
I could write? I would like that.
The career of a writer. That would be rewarding.
Like anything else, it’s hard to make a living writing.
I’ve tried, but nobody is handing out big writing contracts.
I could sell houses?
I think I would kill myself the second time I had an open house with cookies and lemonade on the kitchen counter.
It makes me nauseous just thinking about it.
I could go to law school? I’d make a good lawyer, I’ve been told.
But that just seems like hurry up and wait?
So what else could I do?
Now in the twilight of my career, the thought often crosses my mind.
I’ve been doing this broadcasting thing since High School.
I was a radio DJ when I was 16 years old. I got thrown off the air for telling dead baby jokes.
I had my 1st internship at KTLA in the Los Angeles media market when I was 19.
I was a contributing reporter doing Scholastic Sports America on ESPN at 22.
I was an associate producer in the KABC sports department in the mid 80’s.
By 1988, I was working as the Idaho Falls Bureau Chief as a one man band covering Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. I was 26.
As long as I can remember, I have been telling stories and covering news.
I don’t remember doing much else.
I contemplate career options.
I could do that, I think. I could this, I imagine.
But in the end, I hear my mom.
Aggressive. Impatient. Rude.
What other occupation would pay me to be who I am?
I laugh thinking, what if I was a brain surgeon?
“Nurse, I’m bored. Tying these microscopic synaptic neurons together is laborious and dull. Get me a jack hammer.”
What if I was a chain saw juggler?
I’d have one arm and one ear. I’m too impatient to juggle safely.
Could I be a house builder?
Nope. I know I would impatiently put the roof on before the floor?
My day starts every day with an alarm, and it’s a race against the clock till it’s over.
I need the report now. I need the body cam now. I know I just emailed you for the affidavit, but I’m calling because I actually want it now.
WHEN WILL YOU GET ME WHAT I NEED?
Are you recording me? Yes.
Are you going to put this on TV? yes.
Didn’t you see the sign that says No Trespassing? No.
I have no comment. You sure?
I don’t have to be nice. I don’t get paid in smiley faces.
Eventually my boss is going to call me in the office and give me my pink slip.
And then I’ll be forced to figure it out.
Hopefully I’ll stumble across something by then.
In the meantime, I am enjoying the chase, the grind, the aggressive relentless impatient hunt bordering on rudeness.