I’m in the news meeting for Redding, Calif. This is where the folks from our desk call up the folks from their desk and run through what will be in the next day’s paper. Yes, it’s as exciting as it sounds.
I’m running the meeting on our end. Which just means that I am the guy that calls up, says hello and then listens. Usually.
They go through their page 1 lineup and their local lineup and then get to what they want to use as a tease on the top of page 1. They say they’ll likely use something from sports. “TEASE TO THE BOSTON MARATHON!!!!!, I scream. AN AMERICAN WON FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 30 YEARS!!! MEB! MEB! MEB!
Long, icy silence. Ryan Hall lives in Redding. You’d think they would be swept up in the MeB FeVeR. You would be incorrect.
OK, they say, and hang up quickly.
Fifteen minutes later, I call Ventura. They are a much bigger paper. Surely they will know.
They go through the Page 1 lineup.The editor indicates they want the marathon story to go on the bottom of the front page Yes!!! MEB MEB MEB MEB MEB MEB MEB!!!!! I start screaming uncontrollably. Silence on the other end. Um, he won, I offered. Yes, we know, they reply. The meeting goes on for anothr five minutes with no more outbursts. California Nice.
And then it’s redemption time. I call the Kitsap, Washington, paper. The editor there is a serious hard-core runner. At last I would have somebody to bask with.
Hi, David, I say when he answers the phone. I explain how I wasn’t getting any Meb love in the earlier meetings, so I was delighted to make this call to a True Believer. I suggest a Meb chant. A tentative USA USA goes unanswered.
“Oh, I don’t know,” he says. “Maybe if we chanted the name of the Western States winner.” The name totally escapes me, so I just mutter something and the meeting begins. The city editor is halfway through his description of their lede item, a perfectly good story about spotting gifted children in kindergarten, when the name comes to me in a vision. As he’s talking, I scream “IT WAS OLSON! TIM-O-THY!!! TIM-O-THY!!!”
A long pause. Then he asks, “You’re not getting enough sleep, are you?”
I offer an explanation of how it’s likely the effects of running in the heat while wearing a wool hat, but that doesn’t seem to help.
And it was back to the lineup. I go back to my desk and dream of beating deadline by 11 seconds.
The moral: People don’t get it. And that’s OK. Joy isn’t something to share. Just something to feel. I will fold up that memory, put it in a safe place and pull it out from time to time when I need to be inspired. That’s enough.
And I’m guessing it will be a loooong time before I ever have to run the news meeting again …