Some days are better than others

Published 7:19 pm Friday, July 30, 2010

You might think that a journalist’s job is all about glamour and glitz, secret and potentially dangerous meetings with unknown sources and hobnobbing with the rich and infamous.

If that is, indeed, what you think, your understanding of journalism is obviously informed by far too many movies and television programs. Mostly a reporter’s job entails sitting through long meetings, standing around waiting for something to happen or calling on “the usual suspects” to get information about what already happened.

Some days, however, are better than others, and the past couple of days were two of the kind that stand out from the others.

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On Thursday, I stood on the side of Factory Street and watched a couple of dozen local heroes rescue a man who had fallen into a peanut silo. Whenever I thought about how hot I was while I was standing there under the scorching sun, I tried to remember the poor guy trapped inside the silo and buried under several feet of peanuts.

As I thought about the danger that man faced and the heat he must be enduring, we got word not only that he had been hauled out of the silo, but that he was asking to come down the ladder to the ground on his own power. He was miraculously safe and, in fact, later asked to return to work.

That unexpected outcome made Thursday one of the better days.

On Friday, I experienced a personal treat as I headed out at an unnaturally early hour to join Ben Johnson on his boat Lisa Dawn as he and a helper headed out into the James River off Isle of Wight to check on his 250 so crab pots.

Just about any day spent on a boat beats the best day spent in the office, so it was clear early on that this photo assignment would be worth the fact that I had to get up at 3:45 a.m., a few short hours after I’d gone to bed, in order to be on the boat when it left its slip in Eclipse at 5 a.m.

The time on the river was, in itself, more relaxing than I could expect out of a day at “work.” But even more gratifying was the experience of watching two men ply their trade on the water, executing a quiet ballet of motions that was no less graceful for its rough character.

Watching people excel at what they do is always a pleasant experience. And in two very different contexts, this job has given me great opportunities to do so during the past couple of days. Some days really are better than others.