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All jobs have advantages, disadvantages

A pretty young woman stood behind me at a check-out counter in a busy department store. “I’m sorry; there will be a short delay. Our computers are off-line,” the cashier explained. “But I’m in a hurry,” the young woman muttered. “I’m pushing a deadline.”

“Are you a reporter?” I asked. She nodded. “I understand your frustration. I know about deadlines. I worked for newspapers twenty years,” I said.

After asking me a few questions, she began to pour out her troubles to me. For almost a year she had been covering an entire county located in a rapidly growing area. Her job included making trips to small towns to cover city and county governments. Her editor had never worked her beat. Apparently he did not realize he was sending her from one assignment to the other at opposite ends of the county. She was so discouraged she considered looking for another job.

“Nobody appreciates me. I’ve been summoned from my bed at night to rush to the scene of fires, wrecks or even drug seizures. One of the saddest things was when I saw a badly injured person pulled from a car. I sobbed all the way back to the office to file my story.” She got sick standing on a river bank with her camera when a child’s body was brought in at the end of a dragging operation.

A reader got upset over an article she wrote. He called, threatening to sue not only her, but the newspaper. Her social life suffered, too. She sometimes lost sleep worrying about meeting a deadline. “See what I mean?” she moaned. “Is it really worth the hassle?” Then a smile spread across her face. “I was about to hand in my resignation when a reader called. He said he read my stories and wished there were more reporters with my principles. That was just one person, just one, but because of what he said, I just might change my mind.”

Looking me straight in the eye, she laughed. “I guess you have to be a little crazy to be a newspaper reporter, don’t you?”

I nodded. But I know that every job or profession has drawbacks which make people think they are crazy to hang on. My husband was a soldier, at the beck and call of the army for 20 years. Sometimes he endured long hours, terrible working conditions, and long separations from family.

What about police? Every day they set themselves up for danger. Take postal employees. They brave unpleasant weather conditions to get our mail to us. Firemen? Ever seen them lug a heavy fire hose to a burning building or run into flames to rescue somebody? All jobs have disadvantages and occasionally rewards like the reader who expressed appreciation to the reporter. Most of us just keep on doing our jobs and are thankful for them. My guess is the young reporter continued doing her job to the best of her ability.

 

 

 

Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper industry.