Wednesday, May 30, 2007

They Like Me, They Really Like ME!

The question rang out as soon as I got to my desk.

"Who got you flowers?"

There, next to my computer was a small flower arrangement set in a basket. I won't lie: I gasped when I saw them. I've only gotten flowers twice in my life, this being the second time. I reached for the note, searching my brain for a clue of who would possibly be sending me flowers.

The note said:

Dear Talia, Thank you so much for writing a positive story about our pit bull graduation. I can't tell you enough how much this means to me & the misunderstood breed. I have gotten quite a few phone calls/e-mails from people reading your article & everyone was pleased with a positive article written by a valued news writer. XOXO Susan Parker

I busted out laughing.

"Who's it from," my colleagues insisted.

"It's from the pit bull woman," I said with a laugh before handing over the note to my unbelieving coworkers.

Last week, I met with Parker, a dog trainer, to do an advance on a pit bull graduation she was hosting. The graduation was postponed so we ran the story earlier this week. What's even funnier is that this was a story that my boss almost didn't let me write.

I'd gotten the press release for the event in mid May and thought it would make for good pictures and a cute story. Pit bulls, graduation caps, instant centerpiece. I pitched it in our Friday meeting and my boss said everything but a flat out no.

The day before, we had a story in our section about a toddler being attacked by a pit bull, she noted. It wouldn't be appropriate for us to run a happy story about pits so close after the attack.

I disagreed.

"If anything, this is the perfect time to run this story because it's showing how to KEEP things like that attack from happening again through proper training and supervision," I said.

"Talia, I know what you're going to say," she started.

"No you don't because I haven't said it yet," I countered.

Yeah, we go hard in my office and I don't back down easily. I told her that I was completely aware of the attack and that part of my job as a responsible reporter would be to get the other side. I wouldn't just do a fluff story on the graduation, but a story on how the breed isn't bad inherently, but rather a product of their environment.

She didn't seem convinced.

"It seems like you may have your mind made up already," I told my boss. "I just want you to tell me if you want me to do this story because I don't want to waste my time."

She told me she'd think about it and let me know. But as she looked at the schedule after the long weekend, and realized we'd only have two reporters on Tuesday, she acquiesced and told me to do the story.

I reported it out and wrote the simple story. It ran as a secondary on Wednesday and I'd forgotten about it.

Then, the flowers showed up.

I called Parker to thank her for her kindness, though I told her that it was completely unnecessary. I'm sure she could hear my smile through the phone because I was cheesing from ear to ear.

All this, for a story I wasn't even supposed to write.

(Note to anyone who is trying to get on my good side: send flowers or gummy bears. I'll love you for life.)

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