Adults, especially after the age of 30, seem to ask themselves lots of questions to determine if their lives are progressing satisfactorily. Looking back at old Massac Memos, I was doing that in 1983. The odd thing is that I am still asking the same question almost 40 years later.
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It is 8:55 p.m. Monday and I am sitting at my desk wondering what I am doing here.
When I came to the office an hour ago, the plan was to just sit down and share some information about the cable TV channel we run here at the Planet, and I may get to that yet. But it is slow getting started.
In the meantime, I am poring over the eternal question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?"
Now it really doesn't make any sense to be worrying about that and gray hair at the same time. You are not supposed to face those two big problems at once. But I bet many of us do.
You see, Monday was a bad day. I could go into a list of reasons why, but you probably have a list of your own and don't need mine.
Toward the middle of the afternoon I was out and called the Planet in an effort to solve a problem, or at least move it off my list and on to someone else's. The person I called for was on another line trying to solve one of her problems so I chatted briefly with the person who answered the telephone.
In the course of this conversation, the answerer asked, "Why are you in this crazy business?" She said, "I am sure the constant deadlines drive you crazy and, when you are dealing with the public, there are always people complaining and never satisfied."
Well right away I told her I was in the newspaper business because of the big money. The way she laughed, I knew she realized it was a joke.
A lot of the time my life does seem full of questions -- more questions than answers -- and certainly what am I doing in the newspaper business is a major one.
To be perfectly honest, the best answer is, "I grew up in it." It must be very similar to growing up on a farm. My father owned a small weekly newspaper and although my mother also taught first grade, our lives revolved around the newspaper and printing shop.
Well, I guess the ink got into my blood.
There was every reason it should have. The work as a printer's devil provided money for movies, comics and later, gas. There were always things going on at the paper. Politicians, large and small, came by before elections -- gardeners came by to show us their unusually large produce, and fishermen came to have us take pictures of the monster catfish from the deep Green River.
You see, growing up in a newspaper was fun. And that was especially true back years ago when a newspaper was more like a combination law office and blacksmith shop.
I guess the problem develops when the growing up is over and the aging begins. It is not nearly as much fun as it was.
But I feel it is a better profession than any other I can think of. As I told the woman on the phone, I stay in the newspaper business because it is interesting. There is always something different happening.
Sometimes, of course, it seems to be just repeats. After 263 meetings of the Metropolis City Council they seem to blur a little. But this is the first time in my 10 years here that a sheriff has been appointed.
The hard part is thinking of each new or repeated event as a challenge rather than a hassle. And I know that is about the same for any job -- be it teaching, welding, selling or newspapering.
So I am here, at least for now, because I don't feel completely burned out and don't know anything else I especially want to do. And, because much of the time I feel proud of what we do here at the Planet.
10:02 p.m. I think I'll see if Chris is about finished in the darkroom and then go over by the police station to see if anything is happening.
Thursday, November 10, 1983.