Friday, April 04, 2008

The only thing we have to fear ...

These are two very nice people I met over at a truck stop in Somerset, Wisconsin today. Carma and Danny Glascock of Jermyn, Texas are independent truckers and I found them today for a piece I wanted to write on what it's like to be a trucker when the price of everything is going through the roof. The piece is posted on News Cut, my day job.

Spending much of my morning finding them and talking to them is one of the reasons I like my job so much. I'd like to do more of it; stories of everyday people doing everyday things. Their stories are compelling and if I can find enough of them, maybe MPR will see fit to keep me employed.

It's funny how I've come full circle in this business because back in 1978 -- has it really been 30 years? -- my career got propelled a bit by a story wrote after spending a night at the West Stockbridge Truck Plaza in Massachusetts -- a night in which independent truckers all across the country pulled their rigs off the road and went on a nationwide strike.

I tell stories differently than a lot of newspeople; rather than talk to a bunch of different people and get quick quotes from each of them, I try to find one person (or in this case, one couple) and tell so much about them, that the big hairy issue at the heart of it is more understandable to the reader, even though I just tell a story about one person doing what one person does every day.

If I were to interview me, it'd be a story about the older American worker, and what happens when an economy heads south. These are scary, scary times for a lot of people, and for older workers in particular. I know. I'm one, and the situation is scaring me me to death.

My industry is dying and I'm feeling like the steelworkers of the '60s and '70s did. Today the New York Times/CBS poll showed 81% of those surveyed think the country is on the wrong track and more than half are concerned about losing their jobs.

It's not as if I haven't seen a recession before. But I haven't seen one before as a 54 year old in a dying business, where there are no more opportunities in the only thing I know how to do. It keeps me up at night. It keeps me thinking about it when I should be thinking about other things. And there are millions of people just like me all across this land.

We tell ourselves that worrying doesn't help, but that doesn't help.

Here's hoping the recession is a short one. Here's hoping we all come through it OK. Here's to the Glascocks of Jermyn, Texas. Safe travels to you both, and to you all.


California Girl said...

Just linked your latest post "The Only Thing We have to Fear..." to my blog. I love your blog. Thank you!

Becky said...

Wow. Great job. And you're right. Very scary times. I don't care that they keep saying "what if." We've been in "what if" mode for a couple of years.