I’ve been thinking about the different jobs I have had throughout my life and how so many of them have changed. The fast food places now use speakers and computers to place orders, not in the old days when I worked as a carhop at the A & W. We’d walk out to the car, write down the order…no menu needed…the customers had only a few choices; Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Baby Burger or California Burger; fries or fries, root beer, root beer float, chocolate, strawberry or vanilla malt. My work was pretty darn simple. I enjoyed it.
Even the jobs I had as an adult have really changed. Writing for the newspaper was not my first job covering news. I covered the news for KDMA radio and also for KQWI radio. Back in the day I had a regular route that I covered. I’d call the hospital, stop by and see the mayor, stop at the police station, stop at the clerk of courts office, check out the school’s daily announcements and hit the coffee shop.
I can remember how easy it was to get information from the clerk of court. I’d walk into her office, she’d step up to the counter, I’d lean over and say, “So, anything interesting come across your desk lately?” She say yes or no, that’s all she’d say was yes or no. If she said yes, I’d ask to see the paperwork, and she bring the book over and I’d page through it until I found what she was talking about. The first time I went into the clerk of courts office after the computers were installed, I asked, “So anything interesting come across your desk lately?” She said, “If you want to look at any court documents you need to know the file number.” File number? File number!
Gathering news from the police isn’t fun anymore at all. Back in the day, I would walk over to the police station, the room looked like the interior of a 1930s police department with a tall counter, behind the counter was the officer’s desk, saunter over to the counter, lean on it and say, “What’s new?”
The officer (didn’t need to be the chief) would say, “Incident book’s on the desk, it’s public knowledge. Help yourself.”
I’d glance through the reports…10:20 p.m. [address] domestic; 8:00 a.m. [address] lost dog, 2:40 p.m. [address] shots fired, 3:10 p.m. [address] erratic driver. Whoa! Back up here, 2:40 p.m. shots fired. “So what’s with the shots fired yesterday?”
Page 2 of 2 - He smiled at me and then broke out into a full horse laugh. I could tell the more he thought about it, the more he laughed.
“What’s so funny?”
“I really shouldn’t tell you.” (Emphasis on the you).
“Come on ‘off the record.’ ”
“You can’t put this on the radio or I’ll lose my job.”
“O.K. now you really have my full attention. You have my word…’off the record.’ ”
He went on to share the story. The county sheriff was ‘visiting’ a lady friend in the afternoon and the husband came home and found the sheriff with his wife. The husband was just a little upset, got his gun and shot the sheriff in the buttocks.*
“No way! You’re just feeding me a line. What really happened?”
“Honest to God, the guy shot the sheriff in the @#%. Sheriff’s in the hospital now, go ahead and check; see if you can reach him.”
“I already made the hospital call, the sheriff was not admitted.”
“Not in town, we took him to Shenandoah to keep it on the down low.”
One phone call to the hospital in Shenandoah confirmed the officer’s story.
Oh, that would have made such a sweet story.
Jobs before computers were fun. I loved gathering news before computers.
*This incident took place in Iowa.