Island of good news in a sea of bad - Bob Paslay

I have now heard enough bad and sad news to last me the rest of my life. I watch the noon news on television and not only do I get to see houses that explode, killing people, but overturned tankers daily and apartment fires and molesting educators. And to make matters worse I get to see aerial shots from that darn helicopter. Then a minute later I get to see a helicopter from another state spinning out of control and crashing. Iraq daily is one dreary report. When I edit the obituaries every day they are loaded down with 52, 54, 58-year-olds dying.

Well call me Pollyanna and slap me on the tush, but I am surrounded by good news in my life and I think I would love to hear a little more of that reported. I am 56 years old. I haven't been to the doctor in a decade and treated myself recently to a physical and was in fine shape except for a tiny bit of high blood pressure which the doctor said would go away if I would lop off a few pounds.

I have lost five pounds in my quest to lose about 40 or so. I have a friend who is very educated but who couldn't get a job no matter where he looked. Then recently he found one working for a church. He is certainly overqualified but everyone there is nice and he loves it. A sportswriter friend of mine e-mailed me recently from covering the Master's and said she was being paid to watch great sports under a warm sun surrounded by a rainbow of azaleas. The weather is in the 80s. I don't suffer any effect from pollen. The Dodgers, who I have loved since they battled the Yankees in Brooklyn, are in first place and a friend of mine has tickets so I can see them when they play in Atlanta.

Except for special occasions I gave up John Barleycorn last September and am enjoying Perrier with a twist of lime and four maraschino cherries for color. I delight in the fact that Perrier is French and I am pissing someone off by enjoying something French. I have discovered some fine new music lately, one of which is Enya, who has a great voice.

The last place I worked was a miserable place, something out of a Charles Dickens novel. The philosophy was to keep your boot on the throats of the employees, always finding the half-empty glass rather than the half-full one. The bosses hated the employees. The employees hated and derided the bosses. Each day you came to work your stomach was churning because you knew you and the other editors would probably be in for one of those tirades from the managing editor about what worms we were and how we were not fit to be in journalism. To compound the misery the top bosses deep down hated and feared journalism. They found every way possible to keep stories out rather than putting them in the paper. They homogenized everything. They so distrusted their reporters they made them read finished stories back to the people being written about so there would be not mistakes and so nothing written would make anyone mad.

I tell you all of this misery to tell you that I, like so many others, escaped and I am sure I feel as happy as that Mississippi dairy farmer who escaped his Iraqi captors.

I am back in journalism and it is so sweet. This came home to me recently when I attended the Associated Press banquet to help accept the honors our paper won for reporting and photography. The thoughts of all of us were how we could have made more stories better and won more prizes, how if we had had more time we could have tackled even more stories. And so I enjoy my job, which is happy news for so many who hate their jobs these days. I am surrounded by real journalists who have an enthusiasm for what they are doing. I have an idea and it is accepted rather than being rejected out of hand.

I set out some months ago to reduce my credit card because I am paying some unearthly rate like 19 percent. I have hacked it down considerably and within several months will reduce the debt entirely.

I collect political junk and was in an antique store in Bowman, Ga. last week and found a big Henry A. Wallace for vice president sign for $20. Remember Wallace ran with FDR in 1940? Ah, life is good.

There was an old lawyer in my hometown who had a small office on the square. My father, also a lawyer, went to visit him once and I as a teen tagged along. On his wall as you came into the office there was a big sign that said, "I used to complain about having no shoes until I met a man who had no feet."

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald and can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com.