Being a reporter has a lot of perks

Published 1:01 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
Being a reporter has lots of ups and downs.
On the downside, more often than not people seem to think you're waiting for them to say something controversial to use against them. That can make a conversation pretty awkward at times.
Then of course, there are the crazy hours. It's pretty hard to have any sort of set schedule when you go into work and don't know if you'll be home at 5 p.m. or 3 a.m.
And then of course there are those days you suffer from writer's block, but that's another story for another time.
But on the plus side, you get to go to tons of sporting events or lectures for free, often where there are nice little finger foods available to munch on.
Even with the occasional awkwardness, it is still always a plus to meet all the interesting people one comes across in the news business. From college coaches all the way down to two women selling lemonade to benefit multiple sclerosis, everyone has an interesting story or two to tell.
But a lesser-known, but much more interesting advantage is one that is entirely coincidental - carrying around a notepad.
During a recent dining-out experience after a sporting event, I left my reporter's notebook and pen in my back pocket when going to a restaurant whose name should probably not be mentioned for a variety of reasons. (It wasn't local.)
The service had been unusually slow, even for a busy Saturday evening, and in a state of boredom I took out my notepad and doodled.
Suddenly, the waitress appeared out of nowhere to take our orders, and attempted to make small talk for reasons that weren't apparent at the time.
As the waitress continued to overcompensate, I noticed that each time my pen came closer to my notepad, service was not far behind.
What I eventually surmised from the situation was that the waitress apparently thought I was a food critic, or perhaps from the health department, because she went from complete indifference to taking complete care of us in a matter of seconds.
The food was also impeccable, much better than anything I had previously eaten from any of that restaurant's many franchises. Dessert was the only disappointment.
How could one know that things so seemingly insignificant - a pen and pad - could hold such power over a restaurant.
So I offer as a free gift to you, the people of Atmore, the advice to start taking a pad and paper with you when eating out. My situation could have been pure coincidence, but knowing the slow state of restaurants these days, it couldn't hurt, could it?
So next time you're ready to kill an inept waitress or have been waiting 45 minutes for your appetizers, just remember what this young reporter told you. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
You can send your Nobel nominations to the Advance office.
Tim Cottrell is a staff reporter for the Atmore Advance. His column appears weekly.

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