Friday, March 1, 2013

Face To Face

DON O'BRIEN of The Herald-Whig had an interesting observation on his Facebook page yesterday - he got a visit from a meth couple Wednesday, and another from a murder witness on Thursday.

Don covers crime and courts for the paper, as I did for a dozen years. I'm trying to remember all the interesting people who came to see me during 24 years, but they tend to blur together after a while.

I think the scariest and saddest visit I ever got came from the mother of a man who'd been executed in Missouri. I attended the lethal injection as a state witness and reporter, one of two I covered.

The mother and father had issues raising their son, if you read the reports from authorities and family members. She came into the office unannounced and demanded to see me, two days after her son died.

She was convinced her son had been unjustly convicted, didn't murder the neighbor down the road, was railroaded, etc. She bellowed at me for about an hour, asked me how I could sleep at night, and when I looked in her eyes I saw the devil. I finally had to ask her to leave, and from what I remember, I slept just fine that night.

I got better over the years at dealing with people who were upset. Sometimes all it took was standing up. Being 5-foot-19 has its advantages, you know.

Most people were afraid and just wanted to talk. They were surprised much of the time to find out I wasn't some heartless monster who couldn't care less.

I still interact with interesting people every day. Like the guy who came in yesterday, wondering what a tuner was, then asked for a job, then admitted he was a felon, then bemoaned the fact his brother was in jail. Or the guy a bit later who came in saying he wanted to clean the stains in our carpet. Or Frank Haxel, who is destroying our back room right now.

It's all about the people, Holmes.

1 comment:

  1. Met a few of those in my time too. My favorite was in a Wisconsin city where I worked. When this fellow liked what you were playing he would call and ramble on about the weirdest stuff. The day I quit listening and started putting him on hold like everyone else was when he told me he had been in the county "involuntary overnight rest home" (aka jail) and on his way home two dogs walked across the sidewalk behind him and they were talking about him behind his back.

    He later showed up at the station on a winter's day in showshoes and carrying an axe over his should (I kid you not). He was heading for the north woods to cut firewood, and did we want any?