The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 63

No Ego

It was in mid September, Rich arrived 7:15 AM at The Beacon. He gave Sam, who was sitting behind his desk in his office, a quick wave before ducking into the newsroom. Sam hardly looked up from his desk.
Just as Rich was shuffling through the papers on his desk Sam called on the intercom. “Hey, Rich, can you come over here?”
“On my way,” Rich replied and dashed over to Sam’s office.
“Pull up a chair, Rich,” Sam gestured.
Rich pulled the chair close to Sam’s desk and sat down.
“What do you think, Rich, do you think you can move up a desk?” Sam asked seriously.
Rich sunk in his chair, overwhelmed. “What do you mean?” Rich said.
“Anderson is leaving us,” Sam said. “He’s going to work for his Dad’s public relations firm in New York. So what do you think?” Sam said.
“I don’t think I’m ready,” Rich said. “I’ve only been a full time reporter for a few months and have less than nine or ten months experience total. I‘m still wet behind the ears.”
“You’re as ready as Anderson was when he started with us,” Sam said.
“He had four years of college,” Rich said. “Couldn’t you find somebody who has a college education?”
“He had four years of chasing skirts, frat parties, and buying term papers,” Sam said. “You have had hands on instruction from a guy who actually is a journalists. You’ve gotten more hands on instruction the last six months than a guy in college gets in four years. On top of that you know a little bit about the pressroom downstairs. I bet Anderson, Masters, or Butch have never walked through it since they’ve been here.”
“The idea overwhelms me,” Rich said. “A year ago I figured I’d be doing nothing more than pumping gas and living over a garage. All the sudden I’m in the penthouse. ”
Rich chuckled and so did Sam.
“What if I give you some time to think about it?” Sam said.
“It won’t change the fact that some college guy you could hire has more life experience would be a better choice,” Rich said.
“Yeah,” Sam said, “You’re right.” He smiled. “Personally, I think you could manage; it would be a struggle, but I would have been disappointed if you took it. I like ambition, but not ambition that isn’t backed by talent. When you uncovered the story at Port Clyde most reporters would have run with it by themselves and would have had to be bailed out. You knew who to go to. That’s maturity. You can be trusted beyond your own ambition. It may not make you rich, but it makes you good. There’s plenty of rich, but not much good. Some day this business will be overran by guys with ambition and ego and no talent or character. I hope you never end up that way.”
“Hire somebody that’s gonna go someplace,” Rich said. “I’m still not sure who I am.”
Sam took a pencil from behind his ear and tapped it on his desk. He rubbed above his upper lip. He was thinking deeply. He stopped rubbing and tapping.
“I will,” Sam said. “I’ll bring in somebody who has gone to college. You can go as far in this business as you want. Let me run this paper. You will move up a desk and if I hire somebody and if he’s better than you, he moves around you. It’s that simple.”
“Thanks, Sam,” Rich said.
“For what?” Sam said.
“You know I’m not ready,” Rich said.
“You’re ready every place but your heart ,” Sam said. “I figured you wouldn’t take it. Guys are here a couple of years and move on. I just move people up a desk and give them experience.”
Rich smiled. “You ever think about paying more so you can keep a good reporter?”
With feigned seriousness Sam said, “Never.”
Sam and Rich glanced up and saw Rudy walk by the office.
Sam flipped on the switch to the intercom and spoke into it, “Rudy, come to my office please.”

Rich and Sam smiled at each other as they waited for Rudy.