When I was a student reporter back in the 1970s, I sat in with an official who worked for a federal judge in downtown Baltimore. The trial involved murder, intimidation, Hell’s Angels, and a threat on the life of the judge and his family. After a long day in court, the reporter would have to go back to the judge’s chambers and read hours of testimony from paper notes at points where the judge’s attention slipped away to other things, like being on a hit list. I loved being an insider and knowing what was going to be in the newspaper ahead of time. What a cool job, I remember thinking.
Fast forward 30 years. Reporting has been good to me and my family. My daughter knew the difference between expedited and daily by the time she was five. My husband knew when I complained about wall-to-wall, it wasn’t about the carpet and not to ask too many questions when I had grand jury duty.
But I digress. What I want to say is we as reporters have a front seat to the news. I have known reporters who have traveled not only all over the United States, but everywhere from Bermuda for Lloyds of London to Europe to report war crimes. Another reported a high-profile court mar tial that is ongoing. How difficult it is to give it all up. So I didn’t.
My husband and I moved to South Carolina to retire, but I ended up working another five years just because I wasn’t ready to call it quits. While I was still reporting in South Carolina, I started scoping on an as-needed basis for a long-time friend. Lucky for me, Ronda worked with me and my schedule during the past three years of reporting and, when I retired formally, I transitioned easily into being an almost full-time scopist. It has kept me in the loop, kept me active in reporting news, kept my brain fine-tuned, and also given me extra money to spend on fun things in Myrtle Beach, which I now call home.
The schedule can be feast or famine, relaxing or harried, depending on what trial or daily is going on, just like when I was reporting. But we all know about that, right? But on days I go out with my retired friends, I always have interesting stories to tell them, although I can see their eyes glaze over when I explain what I do. I’ve taken the easy way out and now say that I proofread and edit.
One other thing I’ve done is taken my steno machine to the nearby nursing home and help the mostly elderly women write whatever they want. Sometimes it’s letters to children who have stopped coming to see them, to long-deceased husbands, or sometimes just memories from childhood. They watch magic happen on my laptop and then I deliver a printed copy to them the next day. Truth be told, it truly is magic to see their faces and more rewarding than probably anything other than CART.
So, yes, there is life after reporting. Actually, it’s pretty darn good.
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
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