I've met a lot of great people as a reporter here at the Leader and some I met at my previous job as a news assistant at our local radio station. I've become really comfortable being around them, although I'll admit, I was a little stars struck in my early career. I've learned they're all just regular people who are out to make the world a better place.
Some of my favorite interactions happen outside of business-talk. Here are a few examples.
• I hate taking pictures in large crowds because I'd really hate to block someone's view of the event, and being 5'10" doesn't help matters much. So, when the Historic Livingston County Courthouse was having the ribbon cutting for the grand re-opening, I was scanning the crowd for a place to stand and I see Senator Shane Cultra in the crowd. For those of you who haven't had the chance to meet him, he stands well over six-and-a-half feet tall. The top of my head barely comes up to his shoulder. So I ran down, shook his hand and said greeted him and I said, "Thank God you're here. You're the only one I can stand in front of and not completely block your view!" and he smiled and patted my shoulder and said to go ahead. And thanks to him, I got some great video footage of the ribbon cutting ceremony.
• Representative Jason Barickman was here at the Leader Monday with Chicago City Alderman Ameya Pawar and we were talking about the differences and similarities between Chicago and downstate Illinois and how everyone can work together to pull the state out of the rut it's found itself in. Ameya mentioned that Jason lived in Chicago for a period of time and I said I wasn't aware of that, joking that Jason only grew up a few miles away from me as a child and I've known his aunt and uncle for as long as I can remember. Oh, and Jason's gorgeous little man, August, shares a birthday with my daughter, Bella, and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford. Small world, huh?
• Speaking of Dan, he was in town to promote the online unclaimed property auction Monday and anyone that knows Dan knows he likes to come back "home" and reach out to the people of the area. I've known Dan for a really long time, also. I know he's probably easily met a million people in his job throughout his lifetime, but I remember being 12 years old, having a snow day (that didn't turn out so bad after all) and going to Bloomington for lunch for my mom's 40th birthday. Dan happened to be there (and knew my mom from childhood events they were both a part of) and he knew my dad from activities in the Livingston County Corn Growers. So my dad thought it would be funny to sic Dan on my mom and tell him it was her birthday. He went up to the buffet that she was in line for, tapped her shoulder and gave her a big kiss on the cheek for her birthday. We all had a good laugh. Dan's always been really personable and good-natured with the people and I bet he had my mom's vote. He probably doesn't remember that, but if he does, I hope he doesn't mind us still getting a laugh out of it OR for me retelling the story.
• I work with Lori Fairfield a lot, considering she runs P.R.O.U.D. and she's Rotary president. Her office is at the wonderful P.R.O.U.D. of Illinois Marketplace and that's typically where I meet her to do the interviews or take pictures. There was one day that she told me she was running late and I said I didn't care because I got a chance to really look around the store while I waited. It has some amazing stuff! I had just gotten paid and had my purse on me and you know what happened next. I got some great things to try and even a baker's hat for my daughter, who is such a fashionista she has a hat collection at 5 years old. Lori came in while I was paying and I teased her that she planned it that way just so I couldn't say no to buying some of the great stuff at the store. I give her grief every once in awhile about that, but it's good-natured. I really like working with Lori and the organizations she's a part of do some good things for the Pontiac area.
I've gotten to know the people on the Livingston County Board. I'm getting to know the new board members. I have gotten to know the judges, people at the sheriff's, police and fire departments throughout the areas. Pontiac City Council. Organizations like the Chamber, United Way, Extension Office, Farm Bureau, all the schools, funeral homes (because I edit obituaries) and the unions, especially since the Dwight Prison closure threat.
I can't tell you how blessed I am to have met all these people and I enjoy working with them everyday, and I apologize if I've said anything that embarrassed or offended anyone, because I love the stories that make my job as fun as it is!