Although I’m trying to cut back on expenses now that I’ve been unemployed for six months, I was in dire need to treat myself to breaking open my piggy bank to get the daily paper – The Washington Post in my case – to keep my unchallenged mind from turning to cheesy grits. After all, reading the daily paper helps me remember what day of the week it is, which is another drawback of not having a daytimer attached to your hip like I did at the office. No longer do I dread Miserable Mondays, because I don’t even know when it’s Monday. I do miss some of the little employee benefits, like slithering into the office kitchen after lunch and scraping the duck with orange sauce lean cuisine residue off the office newspaper. Hey, it was free. A little bit of the IT guy’s soy sauce smeared on the crossword puzzle I can live with at that price.
I’ve been trying to find a few writing jobs while I’ve been off, even though it barely pays for the gallons of coffee I’ve taken up drinking as I try to steer my SUV away from the overpriced corner Starbucks every morning. I figure it takes about five cups of my homemade weak-ass coffee – at $.39 a cup – to equal one cup of their $3.95 Gulf spill motor oil-laden brew. Hey, every penny counts.
But today, as I sat with my poor-man’s cup ‘o joe, I was drawn to an article in the Post that had me thinking, ” Hell, they get paid to write this shit??” The article took up the entire left third quadrant of the paper, and it was all about….rain. No, not an article about the after-effects that scientists are discovering about acid rain seeping into our polycarbonate pipes and contributing to the Alzheimer population. No, it was about ONE DAY OF RAIN we recently got in the Washington area.
The article included prolific quotes the reporter got from Suburban Suzi and Development Dan – really explosive things like, “It was dark.” Then there was, “It rained really hard.” And standing under a glorious 100 yr-old oak tree, Next Door Nancy was quoted as saying, “This tree was so wet! I. thought. it. might. break.”
I kept reading in disbelief. Holy crap! I wonder if Nostradamus predicted this day of rain that so tragically effected the entire metropolitan area, bringing the Capitol to a stand-still with its devastation. I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for the plot to thicken, enthralled by the character development in this heart-wrenching story of Mother Nature and her wrath.
The article continued… “The skies darkened like nothing I’ve seen in years,” said a passerby.
Really? REALLLY???!!! Damn, I haven’t seen a dark sky in…why, it’s been hours!
Man, I’m in the wrong business. Hey, Ben Bradley, give me a pad and pencil and I’ll do some reporting for you for a slight fee. Why, I could report on the tragic events of last night as my husband got out of bed with his head spinning and threw up for an hour straight due to what the doctor this morning explained as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. Yeah, let’s see your editors spellcheck that one! I will dutifully submit copious quotes to fill up your sagging white space, like “…and the citizen complained, ‘I get dizzy when I turn my head to the right.’ After further investigation, his wife was overheard saying, ‘Then turn your head to the left, you [expletive deleted].’ At the time of this writing, we have the Center for Disease Control and Prevention combing the entire property for ear crystal poisoning. This is the first part of a two-part series on domestic violence…”
I mean, really. I understand with the advent of the internet that newspapers are getting desperate for a good story to publish in their print version, but Carl Bernstein must be shuttering in his Birkenstocks.
I really need to find out if they’re hiring, and if they pay by the word, or by the exaggeration. I just might be able to revisit Starbucks.