My first day on the job as a full-fledged newspaper reporter was quite memorable and surreal.
A cup of coffee and a few staff hellos was the full extent of my orientation. News was to gathered. I was put on assignment.
A damaging storm had torn up parts of the town the night before. People would want to know what happened. Who was affected? Was it a tornado? If not, what was it?
The editors blurted out an unfamiliar name or two and a couple of location names I’d never seen and told me to find something out. I fumbled nervously through my investigation….Then, my boss says, “How’s your story coming along?”
“Fine, ” I replied, fond of neither lying, nor unemployment….
I found my desk and went to work. Deadline was approaching, and it meant something. Miss it, and my future in the field would be dead.
Unfamiliar with local geography and reliable information sources, the pressure was on. Typing the stories out –Yes, I said stories– required a bit more skill than it would these days. My tall manual Royal typewriter was not equipped with spell check or delete and insert buttons….
Thankfully, in those days, I could light up my nerve soother and dangle it between my lips as I tried to find the keys as fast as my notes, ideas, and my capacity to express them could be gathered together. I wrote with a speed this budding wordsmith never knew possible.
These were the days of paper newspapers. A large box of uncut paper beneath my desk fed through my typewriter. When my wound-tight boss snapped his fingers a few minutes later, I ripped the paper and handed it to him.
He used a ruler to split the paper between sentences and paragraphs where he felt necessary. He reorganized the arrangement of ideas with glue pumped from a can….
Only a matter of a few minutes passed between my fingers on the keys and the smell of wet ink on front-page newsprint that would be read by complete strangers. I had made it….
“What else you got?” he inquired. On I went to another story….