maarmie's musings

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Even more proof that I am a competitive asshole


Guys: You know that drunk moron at a bar who wants to impress his woman so he sidles up next to you and challenges you to a game of pool or darts? You know that jerk who loudly proclaims "I can beat any one of you!" and then makes awful "ha HA!" noises and spews "Eat that!" or "Beat that!" with every bullseye or ball knocked into a pocket?

I don't like to admit it, but sometimes I'm that guy.

I'm not trying to impress a woman (or man). I'm trying to impress myself. I'm not trying to say something bad about you. I'm trying to say something good about me - and doing it poorly. I admit it. I'm addicted to competition.

I love tests of math and logic, and I take IQ tests on the internet just for fun. I love completing tasks for a grade and comparing my grade to the grades of others as well as the number of hours we studied. I love playing all sorts of games against friends and strangers, and I keep a backgammon board in my trunk for impromptu sessions. I love racing anything and seeing who will win. When I was a reporter, I didn't have to write the most stories but I had to have the best stories faster and on the front page. When I worked in public relations, I had to have the most media hits on campaigns and come up with the best and brightest ideas. I had to be a better writer, a better thinker and a better schmoozer than all the others.

I'm the one who would cover her test paper so others couldn't cheat. I'm the one who wouldn't allow do-overs.

Faster, more, better, nicer, smarter, cleverer, meaner, stronger, braver, funnier. It's my curse, and I have been known to wear myself out in my quest for perfection.

Story #3 (click here for story #2)

Journalism is one of THE top professions designed to accomodate competitive assholes, and the fact that I was ever a reporter proves, without a doubt, forever and ever and ever, that I am, indeed, a competitive asshole.

That said, as reporters go, I was more competitive and assholish than most. My reporter persona came easily, and I slipped it on at 9 a.m. every day. Persona, you query? What is that? And why ever did you use one? Are you insane? The answers are 1) a role I played in public 2) to shield myself and maneuver through difficult or intense situations and 3) nearly.

I'm not sure how many reporters use personas in the line of duty. I've met a few who do but many who don't. I think it depends on the nature of the job. Mine was necessary considering I was a Yankee (I grew up in Florida and once lived in NY, which, I was told, makes me a Yankee) who was working at a small newspaper in rural South Georgia (where the word "nigger" is bandied about often and using a full voice, no hushed tones or whispering) who bucked social convention by having the audacity to write about things that were ACTUALLY GOING ON and quoting people using words they ACTUALLY SPOKE.

Before I came along, I was told by more than a million people, including fellow reporters, that city council members and other folks in the good old boy network needed only to mutter five sweet words to a reporter to keep their public images intact and to keep embarrassing actions and words away from public scrutiny: "This isn't for the newspaper."

When those in charge saw that I wouldn't be bowing down to them, many hissy fits were thrown by one mayor and a certain city attorney. And that was just in the first month. I knew I'd have to toughen up a bit. Hence, the persona.

My persona evolved over time and was borne out of necessity and extreme hardship. The best way I can describe it is that it was one that combined detachment with a dash of superior smugness and a heapin' helpin' of razor-sharp suspicion. It was my shield against nasty insults, lies and attacks and it gave me a face to wear that masked my own when my heart wanted to break and tears wanted to fall.

I have a million stories I will eventually tell about being a Yankee reporter in Backwards U.S.A. But to suit the title of this post, I will tell a tale involving Gov. Sonny Perdue.

At first, I thought it would be a stupid, routine story. Three companies were coming to Thomasville thanks to some state funds, and the governor was going to be paying a visit to provide the details. Naturally, I wanted to know which companies were coming for my pre-visit story. Unfortunately, no one would tell me. Stonewalled!

City officials wanted to kiss the governor's butt by keeping the info under wraps so HE could announce it during his big visit. That didn't sit well with me, especially since I really really really wanted to break the news first and I really really really REALLY hate it when people won't tell me things. It doesn't make me stop asking. It just makes me start looking for a door or window or tunnel or mountain to go through, over, in or around to find out what I want to know.

Soooo....What started out as a routine story turned into a nasty little game of hide and seek, and I was damn sure it wouldn't be me that came away the loser. Plus, why should that fucking asshole redneck of a governor have all the fun? I ended up wanting to spoil it for him, and I did. It's not much, but it's all the information I could dig up in five hours or less. I can't reveal how I got the info (wink wink), but here is the article - printed the day before Gov. Perdue's visit - that landed me in hot water yet again. Sigh! It's hard being superior.


THOMASVILLE -- Gov. Sonny Perdue will be in Thomasville on Wednesday to talk about how OneGeorgia money will soon benefit the area.

Three companies are either expanding or setting up shop in Thomas County thanks to OneGeorgia money -- funds from the state's tobacco settlement that are helping some parts of Georgia develop economically. It is unclear how much money is being distributed for the three current projects. The governor will provide details at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Thomasville Cultural Center, 600 E. Washington St.

One of the beneficiaries of the OneGeorgia money is Dillon Candy Company in Boston. The company has outgrown its 12,000-square-foot facility, said Oscar T. Cook Jr., the company's president, and will be moving to a 20,000-square-foot building that currently exists but will be renovated.

"Part of our reason for moving is that we've reached capacity here," he said. "Our sales warrant larger production capacity. We need to get to a new and larger facility."

The new facility will be located on Georgia Highway 84, one-and-a-half miles away from its current South Green Street location. The money will enable the candy manufacturing company to stay in Boston, Cook said, instead of moving to another state.

Additional employees will be hired to match production needs in the future, said Cook, who said the hope is for a 30-percent production increase in a few years.

A. Duda & Sons, Inc., which grows, ships, markets and exports fresh fruits and vegetables and has a presence in Florida, Texas and California, will soon be set up on 13 acres at the former Sunnyland site on Old Cassidy Road thanks, in part, to OneGeorgia funds. Doug Silvis, the local attorney for the company, said it will buy a $4 million facility in August from the Joint Development Authority and set up a food processing plant. Celery will likely be one of the main vegetables processed and packaged there, Silvis said.

"Hopefully, it will open up an additional market for farmers because of the connection (the company) has with goverment food programs and the school food programs," Silvis said. "Hopefully, what people can't use fresh can be processed by the A. Duda Company."

Susan Howard, a spokesperson for A. Duda & Sons Inc., refused comment Monday.

A welding company also is reportedly coming to this area, however details could not be obtained or verified as of press time Monday.

Don Sims, president of the Thomasville/Thomas County Chamber of Commerce, refused comment Monday.


savia said...

I went to j-school, too, but quickly realized that the profession was the wrong fit for my personality. I'm just not aggressive enough. I think developing a persona would have helped, but then I would have had to spend my days pretending to be someone I'm not, and I'm sure that wouldn't have been healthy. Anyway, this is my long way of saying I hope you tell some more of your journalism stories - I'd love to hear them.

maarmie said...

My persona wasn't much different from my real personality when I am pissed off or even miffed or at least skeptical of something. It was me in a bad mood taken to an extreme. I have a million and one stories about those two years in Thomasville. I hope to share them all. I think they're fascinating, and I hope others would, too.

Annie said...

Now that story told the tale of a good-ole-boy network.

No comments, huh? Those no comments said a lot.