It's My Life: Tina Comeau
I was recently thinking to myself about how many times we have to switch gears in this line of business during the course of a week, not to mention in the course of a day.
Our reporters can be writing anywhere from six to 10 stories a week – sometimes more – and the subject matter varies greatly from one story to the next, from one hour to the next.
In the past month I’ve written stories or briefs about nursing awards, an interpretive trail, ultimate Frisbee, karate, billiards, soccer, swimming, transit, lighting, fire department recruitment, down syndrome, Scleroderma, litter programs, CT scanners, Legal Aid, hockey drafts, a ducklings rescue, school site selection processes, student relocations, funding issues, a church demolition, the lobster industry, vandalism, downtown development, the Moncton RCMP shootings, Seafest, Music Week, summer recreation programs, the Relay for Life, education surveys, and on and on and on the list goes.
Sometimes the subject matter is complex, but you’re expected to be an expert no matter what you write about.
With each passing week I discover at times that I have different levels of expertise.
Take golf, for instance. The only golf I play is mini-golf. Beyond that my knowledge of the sport consists of the basics – you hit a ball with a golf club and try to get it into a hole with as few shots as possible. But start throwing pars, eagles and birdies at me and I’m clueless.
We recently received a poster in the newsroom from the Yarmouth Links about a Tuesday night men’s league. The poster referred to nine-hole and closest to the pin, which I presumed to be golf games. Sandwiched in between this was hamburger and draft. It was all in list form: nine-hole, hamburger, draft, closest to the pin.
I was stumped. Hamburger?
So I called the golf course and in one of my moments of non-expertise I asked the person who answered the phone, “Is hamburger a type of game?”
“No,” they explained politely. “It’s a thing that you eat.”
“So draft is a beer,” I said quickly, as opposed to asking if it was a game that required a putter. “Yes,” they said.
In my defence the structure of the poster was a little misleading, but boy did I feel stupid.
Kind of like the time many years ago when our newsroom was on a frantic search to track down Sean Triubhas to take his photo to go with a story we had received about dance medal recipients. Although not a familiar Yarmouth name, this kid’s name was everywhere in the media release so we figured he must be local, although likely not from West Pubnico. After an unsuccessful search through the phonebook and phone calls to other people asking if they knew the Triubhas family, we eventually tracked someone down who told us Sean Triubhas was the name of a dance, not a person.
Obviously we opted not to go with the headline: Sean Triubhas wins 36 medals.
Recently I was driving to Bridgewater with my youngest son for a hockey team party. After a while of driving and taking note of the exit we had just passed I told him, “We should get there at 4.” He was growing tired of the drive and said, “If we don’t I’m going to call you a liar,” but I managed to throw in an “ish” before he finished his sentence.
“Four-ish!” I said. “Four-ish!”
“You said four,” he replied. “You said we’d get there at four.”
“Yeah,” I said, “but then I added an ish. You can’t hold someone to something definitive when they add an ish.”
“No, you said four,” he said. “You said four.”
We actually got into an argument about whether a last-minute ish counts.
“I said ish! I said ish!” I shouted back. “Four-ish, four-ish. If we get there at 3:55 I’m covered and if we get there at 4:10 I’m covered.”
As it turns out we got there at 4:01.
I’ve travelled Highway 103 enough times over the years for hockey to know how long it takes to get anywhere.
I guess you could say that makes me an expert – even if in my world I think it’s perfectly normal to swing a golf club at a hamburger.