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March 24, 2012

Glad old habits don't die too hard

WASHINGTON — “Nate, we need you to be a reporter this week.”

“Huh?”

Now, understand I have been a reporter for years, but for the past several months, I have not done much writing at all.

About eight months ago, I moved from writing full time to designing full time. I make sure the front page and every other page is neat, readable and interesting for the reader.

Going into work on Monday, I knew Andrea McCann would be out this week but we had someone at news. Well, that guy decided to jump ship. He booked it faster than Tim Tebow was shipped out of Denver.

That left no one at news. All our sports writers would be busy with Loogootee’s trip to the state finals today.

So, instead of layout, my boss decided to put me back at news for this week. Now, one would think this would be easy, considering I’ve had cabin fever the last couple months and begging to be let out of my windowless newsroom that I never leave because I don’t smoke anymore, but I actually was nervous.

I haven’t written in a while and I had little idea what stories I wanted to do. It took a half an hour to write the first paragraph of a relatively easy story about a trial date for a case I wrote about two years ago, but I was rusty.

So rusty, my wrists actually hurt Monday night after writing the police report and a school board meeting. By Wednesday, I actually had some of my speed back and writing stories that created some interest. I even got out and took pictures.

When I came in Wednesday afternoon, I sat down with my lunch trying to figure out what I would do that day. This is always a bad idea because the universe tends to throw stories at you, like the fire on N.E. Seventh Street.

Although it is never fun going to fires and accidents where there are injuries or fatalities, it was good to see the cops and firefighters I have become to know over the years. I got some jokes about being missing and I got to make some jokes about the TV yokels that came to the scene.

It’s like a vacation that I get paid for, and like riding a bike, my skills came back to me.

I don’t know if I will be in the field or at my desk come Monday, but it was interesting.

•••

Nate Smith, usually the design editor at the Times Herald, has a great idea for the front page if Loogootee wins today. He can be reached at nsmith@washtimesherald.com or on Twitter at natebsmith.

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