The Christmas season is certainly a special time of the year. I never know quite where I may find myself Ė standing in the freezing cold outside some Bainbridge apartment as dozens of police swarm the scene, or hunching between the seats of an elementary school concert taking holiday photographs.
Though Christmas tends to bounce the extremes back and forth more for me, between my routine mayhem reporting duties and good will charity, itís never the same day twice at The Evening Sun.
Jumping at 24-hour internals throughout last week, at around 2:30 p.m., I recalled what I was up to each particular day.
Sitting in Chenango County Criminal Court on Monday, putting the final touches on the New Berlin Gazette on Tuesday, at the scene of a car versus doctorís office Wednesday, sorting pictures of an earlier Bainbridge standoff with police Thursday, meeting with volunteers for a Christmas food drive Friday, navigating the throngs at Crossgates Mall in Albany on Saturday and then watching Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform live on stage Sunday. (The last two are personal activities.)
In some of the more hectic of days as a reporter, youíll find yourself covering four or five completely different subjects in an eight-hour period. Sometimes I feel like a completely different person showing up from one event to the next, depending on what I may be doing.
Take today for example. My agenda ahead includes pictures of area Christmas decorations, collecting the criminal court indictments, adding recent police arrests to the blotter, Progress business story scheduling, put the last touches on the Gazette and then calling about a weekend performance and fundraiser. Oh right, and letís not forget about writing this editorial column.
There is no doubt about it, this job is an interesting one. Every day I have the opportunity to come to work and learn about a whole new subject Ė actually itís typically demanded in order to write competently.
Although the subject matter isnít always what youíd prefer, like learning the intricacies of our local waste water treatment (dorky and fascinating) or the exact circumstance of a sex crime (vivid and disturbing). On the other hand you develop a keen sense of how the different bodies of government operate and a functioning understanding of your rights under the law.
Being a reporter in our small town has granted me access to things my counterparts in larger areas will never have and a trust only close communities share. Calling any local official, for example, and expecting to talk to them in the next hour, seeing behind the scenes of a police murder investigation or sitting in on an off-the-record court conference.
Iíve sat through two whole murder trials, beginning to end, and all the peripheral activities involved. Apart from the officers of the court and their staff, I donít know many who are so lucky to see such an amazing, dramatic and real-life process.
I love having the chance to ask experts about their craft and watching their experienced passion take hold of a conversation. It could be a former American Idol contestant performing locally, a lawyer fighting his case in court or a military official giving his first-person account of the war in Iraq.
Given my role as police and fire reporter, my exposure to the community can sometimes be a little dark and morbid. In what other job can I claim to have aided in a cremation, or seen blood spilled at a crime scene or the recanting of a crying and guilty man standing only six feet away? Letís not forget that most of these larger crimes happen only at momentís notice Ė you never know what to expect.
You want a tense moment, just file into your local court on the eve of a sex crime plea and sentencing. Thatís when the defendant has to explain to the judge, in his own words, what he did while the victim usually sits somewhere in the courtroom behind him. After that, New York State says itís their turn to speak and before sentencing is passed, a victim can address their attacker.
Iíve heard a man admit heís killed a woman as if the judge had asked him what time it was. Others choked on the emotion of their words and pleaded for forgiveness from family members after having brought violence, even death, to a loved one. These are experiences, although evil to a degree, I am glad to have witnessed.
Every tragedy, every realized dream, every story you hear, you begin to understand that they all carry significant meaning. Every experience, even the bad ones, enrich my own personal out look in life. The more Iím able to explore the small world around us, the more I realize how much Iíd been missing.
I donít know how Iíll ever learn to work another job after having had this level of daily personal growth. The interest and the difference one can make through the media are things you learn to really appreciate.
After stepping into so many shoes for so long, Iím not sure Iíd ever be content in just wearing a single pair again.
Follow me on Twitter ... @evesuntyler.