My Reporting Life – Or How To Sink Low Without Even Trying

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You know I have held a few jobs in my life including that of an insurance agent, hammering on people day and night to buy policies, so I could live another week on my draw against commission.

I’ve worked as a musician in bars with drunks picking fights with each other and sometimes trying to pick one with me. I worked as a warehouse man and even had to spray paint filing cabinets in a closed-up warehouse, which made me dizzy and sick to my stomach. I worked in malls signing up people for credit cards, at $3 a pop, and I even worked in electronic stores demonstrating High-Definition TVs for a major Japanese manufacturer.

In all of these various gigs I had co-workers and bosses. Honestly, they were kind of cynical and surly like me, hardened by a tough life and always being chased by bill collectors. But, all and all, they were alright. They would stand in for you when you were sick, or take up for you if some punk tried to break bad on you because they felt powerful that day. Even the worst of the worst in these jobs were humane to stray cats and little old ladies.

Worked My Way Up

In other words, with all their common imperfections and roughness, they were still pretty A-OK, decent human beings. So, it was a great surprise to me that when I finally began to get up in the world, or so I thought, by becoming a freelance writer and finally a full-fledged news reporter that I was about to meet the worst stratum of human bastards in the world: my fellow news reporters and the managing editors.

I had never encountered such a group of crude, back-biting, egotistical,  childish, petty human refuse repositories in my decades of working among the unwashed classes of every day working stiffs. Some of these contemptible monsters would even report quotes that were clearly given off the record, and in one case, got a government manager fired.

Of course, when this happened, the entire newsroom was banned by that governmental agency, and no one would grant the rest of us an interview. When I approached the reporter who had brought all these bad vibes down on our heads, she laughed in her gruff voice and said:

“Too Goddamn bad. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I got the story and I was on the front.” With that she walked away from me as though her speaking to me at all had been an oversight.

Nasty Piece of Work

This is the same reporter who when I first came to D.C. wouldn’t tell me where the Metro station was near the newsroom.

“Hey, look it up. I’m busy. If you think people here are going to help you, then you’ve come to the wrong place. It’s everyone for themselves. I’m in competition with you,” she growled, acting pissed that I dared to ask her a question.

The only time she initiated speaking to me at all was when one of my stories occasionally pushed her off of the front. She would walk slowly back to my desk and say something like:

“What a puff piece you wrote on them. No wonder they gave you the interview.”

Boom, then she was gone, scoring a direct hit on a soft guy like me. At first, it used to make me angry and even make me question my article — which was a big win for her. But in time, I became hardened to her game and soon learned crueler and more treacherous games some of my other colleagues and editors would teach me.

Want more? Let me know and I will dish it out.



Categories: Opinion

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