Last week my editor asked me to cover a meeting which included Sen. Amy Klobuchar. As I walked into the meeting room that morning, I met the eye of another media person and went to sit by her and chat while we waited for the politicking to begin.
“If I could have back all the time I spent waiting on politicians….” she commented with a sigh.
“Or judges,” I replied.
“Or lawyers,” we both said in unison.
The life of a reporter is not unlike military life in the fact that we spend a lot of time doing the “hurry up and wait” thing.
We arrive at an interview, only to wait 20 minutes for a person to show up, then tell us they are pressed for time and try to rush through an interview they requested. We hurry to a meeting to be a few minutes early and get a good seat with decent camera shots, only to have some last-minute CEO sit directly in our way and proceed to bob and weave throughout the whole thing, generally answering at least three cell phone calls right at about the same time we’re trying to get a quote or an important figure.
Last week there was a guy sitting off to one side of me, one row forward. I swear he could sense it every time I picked up my cam-era. I was writing as fast as I could, and trying to find a moment to pick up the camera and get off a quick shot. Every time I lifted the camera and focused, this guy leaned forward, putting himself directly between me and the person I was trying to photograph. Of course, he had entered the meeting room at the last second, and even though half the room was empty, had decided to sit in the one place guaranteed to be in my way. I have about 12 pictures of the side of his head.
Then there are the days we spend waiting for the phone to ring.
As is often the case during a normal day in the life of a reporter, I think I spent most of the day Monday waiting for several people to return my phone calls.
I was trying to track down information for an article, and in the process left voice mails on a variety of phones and messages with a multitude of secretaries and administrative assistants.
There is a fine line between leaving another “reminder” voice mail and being a stalker.
Sometimes I just want to cringe when I hear the exasperation in a secretary’s voice, knowing that person is thinking, “Geez, hasn’t she gotten the hint yet? He’s not going to call her back.”
Well, we still have to try. In the meantime, we are keeping one eye on the clock, wondering if we will get the call back, if the article can run without that person’s comment or if we need to abort mission and immediately turn our attention to another story.
On Monday, I never did get a call back, but did come up with some court documents by late in the afternoon to add an interesting element to the story. The documents would have been here sooner, but they were sitting on a judge’s desk in a pile with a bunch of other case files, and the clerk couldn’t get at them.
See? Even the case files have to wait.
I saw a t-shirt the other day that made me chuckle.
“Most days I’m glad I became a journalist,” the shirt said. “Other days I wish I would have just become a pirate.”