June 08, 2004

Not Quite Good Enough For Reader's Digest

I submitted this little story to Reader's Digest quite some time ago (think years), but it never graced the pages, and I never received $400. *sigh* But, what's not good enough for Reader's Digest is good enough for Rambling Rhodes. Keep in mind, this isn't the version I sent to RD. This is the long version. The version I sent to RD was much more, er, concise.

My first job out of college, following a depressing unemployment stint of four months (thanks for the warning on THAT one, life), was as a news editor for a newspaper called the Stewartville Star, a little weekly with a circulation around 3,500 or so.

It was one of those jobs I believed to be well below my talents, until four months of unemployment and rejection letters basically spelled out for me that I had little in the way of talents. It was the classic catch-22: I had no experience, so no one wanted to hire me. Okay, well, then how in the hell am I supposed to gain experience? No one ever bothered to answer that question. They just sent rejection letters.

Anyway. . .

As news editor for the Stewartville Star, I was basically responsible for a little bit and a lot of everything. City council meetings? I covered those. School board meetings? I covered those. School events? Me. Photography? Oh, that's me. Everything that ever happened in the town and surrounding area? Yup, I was there. I had very little in the way of a life.

Well, one day, I was at the high school, sitting in the office patiently awaiting an audience with the superintendant to discuss something or other that was brought up during a school board meeting.

Now, the thing was, I was a young-looking 23-year old, and I could have probably easily passed as a student if I had wanted to. So it was, I found myself sitting in the school office with a bunch of students who were awaiting an audience with the principal to discuss their less-than-acceptable behaviors.

Prinicpal's office time is nervous time. I remember my trips to the principal's office as a young 'un. The sweaty palms. The disaster scenarios playing in the head. The utter feeling of lonliness. The desire to reach out to whoever may be in front of you at that point in time.

One student, in particular, was really fidgety. He was rubbing his hands together, and it was obvious that whatever brought him to the principal's office was probably pretty bad. He studied me for a bit, probably a bit confused as to my calm demeanor.

"So, um, what are you here for?" he finally asked me, like an inmate in Alcatraz.

"Huh? Oh, I'm just reporting here," I tried to explain.

"Tell me about it," he sighed. "I report here a lot."

Posted by Ryan at June 8, 2004 10:01 AM

I know why RD passed on it. Its too complicated for the geriatric set to understand. But it had a nice Everybody Loves Ray foreshadowing quality about it that they normally bite on.

Mild tangent, one of my pals in middle school got sent to the principal's office, she had to step out for something or other and he pilfered her desk. Stole some of his stuff back and a bunch of other people's stuff back that she'd been storing in there. Needless to say, he was an instant hero.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at June 8, 2004 12:16 PM

My RD story that I never submitted:

It was the summer before I went into 7th grade and my family was at Sambo's having pancakes. My mom said something about how I was going to start Junior High in the fall, and that I might have to make an extra effort to avoid distraction from all the 8th and 9th-grade girls with their midriff shirts exposing their belly buttons. My response: "You didn't tell me you were sending me to the navel academy!"

Oh, my sides. Yeah, I was a regular Fred Travalena.

I actually spent the rest of the summer anxiously anticipating the vast array of exposed belly buttons I had in store for me. Unfortunately, my mom had been sadly misinformed as to the level of midriff exposure at Cambridge Junior High.

Posted by: Chaz at June 10, 2004 05:22 PM
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