Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Two-Week Career

I just finished two weeks of working as a reporter/photographer for the newspaper I left nine years ago, filling in until a new reporter could be hired. The first week was exhausting, coming as it did on top of my granddaughter's accident and a period of daily trips to the hospital. But even tired as I was, I realized on some levels I was enjoying myself. By the second week, I was able to analyze why.

I felt competent. I'm a decent writer, a good newspaper photographer, and an ace at fielding calls from the crazy public. The staff made it clear that I saved the day by agreeing to come in for two weeks, and they were grateful. At home I save no one's day. At home I'm surrounded by jobs undone, and proof that I'm not a very good housekeeper. At the newspaper I met my daily deadlines and didn't need editing.

I had a field. One reason why I loved being a reporter years ago was that I could call myself one. Over the decades I've gotten paid for being a writer and an editor, but I've also gotten paid for being a secretary, a lab tech, a symphony telemarketer (that one didn't last long), and an administrator of census tests. Probably because I never graduated from college, I never felt as though I had a field. I always wanted one.

I experienced community. At a daily paper, we all strive toward a common goal. We're all in it together. I have sought community on one level or other my entire life. I'm convinced a feeling of community is one of the biggest benefits of belonging to a church. But I don't go to church. At home these days, most of my community is felt online. It was nice to experience it with audio.

And speaking of audio.....
I had such fun bantering with my old friend Kevin and others on the staff. The newsroom gets quiet around four o'clock in the afternoon every day as everyone starts writing in earnest, but earlier in the day the atmosphere is light. Laughter is often triggered by our interaction with people outside the office. As I said to Kevin a few days ago, "So many funny things happen here, and we all share them. When I'm at home again next week, nothing funny is likely to happen—and if it does, I have no one to tell."

So now you're probably wondering why I didn't take the job myself. I was never seriously tempted. In addition to all of the above, the job also entails covering interminable night meetings, getting to work in all kinds of weather (the paper must get out no matter what), overtime on a regular basis, driving all over the countryside to get stories, and expending more energy than I possess. As a retired editor said to me recently, "Reporting is for the young."

The paper hired a young woman just out of college. I wish her the best. Now I have to figure out how to incorporate some of the above into my retirement. It was a good career while it lasted.

9 comments:

crystal said...

Hope your granddaughter is mending well!

I remember working - I felt needed and competent and like my presence mattered. At home I could only talk to the cats (and now the photos of the cats - uh oh) :)

But I see how exhausted my sister is, working so hard at her present job, worrying about becoming the lates fired person, never getting everything done that's expected of her, speding more time with co-workers she has nothing in common with than she can with her husband, etc. - I don't really envy her.

If you figure out a way to work the good parts of having a job into being at home, let me know, ok?

Susan said...

You sum up the trade-offs very well, Crystal. And I'll add the hassle of the commute.

crystal said...

Even people with the greatest jobs still usually have to retire eventually. There must be a way to get the good stuff of jobs without actually having to having one - must give this some thought.

Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb said...

You have stated exactly all the reasons why I miss my job....

Indigo Bunting said...

I absolutely love this post (and am going to refer a couple of people here). I love especially "I feel competent."

Susan said...

Thanks, all. I did well as a stay-at-home mom, but I understand why some women don't.

Limited said...

Feeling competent and feeling like you matter. Indeed...one of the reasons I work. But I am still looking forward to the day when I will miss these things.

Susan said...

Limited, I don't blame you! And thanks for visiting.

Susan said...

PS: Vicki, since you own your business, you could always fire yourself...... ;-)