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sunday scaries: rookies
the news is a mirror, but we all see different things.
Do you suffer from Sunday Scaries? Do you dread the phrase, “Let’s hop on a call?” Do you have Slack nightmares? The Debaser is here to help with a short little story on Sunday night. I’m gonna try and make this a regular thing, something to help forget that we are getting closer and closer each day to World War 3.
Tonight’s tale is about two new reporters, guilt, and a loss of innocence. The news is a mirror, but we all see different things…
“So this pours a deep copper tan head, about a half inch.”
The brewer is squatting down, eye level with a fresh pint. He puts away his measuring tape and takes a drink, the beer like a fire hose in and around his mouth. The glass doesn’t even touch his lips. Beer trickles down the side of his face and all over his shirt. His hands are shaking as the booze is reintroduced to his system.
There is a reporter watching him. It’s her first day on the job.
“See, moderate lacing” says the brewer, wiping his face.
He explains pouring beer like a psycho, but this registers as impressive to the reporter.
“What’s moderate lacing?” the reporter gleefully inquires.
“It’s the flavor ring around the inside of the glass. The goal is to get a solid flavor ring.”
“Flavor ring...got it!”
“And this batch is called ***checks notes*** Dank Thundercloud?”
“Yea, it’s our collab with Ben & Jerry’s,” says the brewer.
He slides over a sample to her. As she drinks it, he nods his head authoritatively.
“Yea, wow,” she says, but the beer actually tastes like a waterlogged Boston cream donut after being put in a blender.
The reporter is there to write an advance on the opening of his new brewery, Dank Brews. It’s going to highlight the area’s craft beer explosion. It’s her first assignment for the newspaper.
The brewer is a jolly, burly man wearing a blue baja pullover drug rug and a bucket hat with a peace sign on it. His dread locks looks like a thousand soggy joints. Behind him it says DANK BREWS in a shocking bright green Jokerman font. The place looks like a cool farm, with crunchy music playing from the speakers. The whole operation is intensely influenced by weed.
“Wow, this music is amazing. What is this?” asks the reporter.
“This is the Dead. 3/18/90!”
Back at the newsroom, the reporter enthusiastically files her story. She is so excited she immediately sends it to her mom.
The next day, the paper’s editor receives a call. It’s from the brewer. He sounds pretty shook.
“It’s about the article on my brewery...it makes me look like a terrible person. I look like I have a drinking problem! Like I’m a fiend who isn’t nice to his employees. Was that your intention?”
The editor hasn’t even read the story.
“I apologize. That’s completely unacceptable. Let me talk to the reporter and we’ll issue a retraction.”
“It’s just…I gotta really get my drinking under control,” says the brewer, sounding intoxicated. “I can’t just have 2. It ends up being 7, 8, 9. I’m just so good at making alcohol though. And I really do have to stop harassing my employees.”
The editor immediately summons the young reporter into his office.
“Did you intend to make this guy look like an alcoholic when you wrote that he chugged his beer? You’re hurting his reputation!”
“No not at all. I didn’t even know he had a drinking problem,” says the reporter.
“Did you mean to convey to the reader that the brewer harassed his employees?”
“Of course not!” says the reporter, nearly to tears.
She’s totally perplexed. She wrote a normal softball feature about a brewery opening. There’s no mention of him having a drinking problem. And definitely not even an allegation about workplace harassment. The reporter goes home, devastated.
Later that day, another new reporter begins his job. He’s on the phone interviewing a plaintiff’s attorney.
“So my first question is, why are you awesome?”
“Look, my approach in the courtroom every day is that I’m Lebron James, and no one knows it yet,” explains the attorney.
The reporter quickly writes that down.
“The metaphor, in this situation, is a really big products liability case I’m trying,” says the attorney.
The new reporter is really impressed with the attorney’s rhetorical skills.
“Globally, I’ve claimed over $500 million in verdicts spread out over 120 jury trials. That puts my batting average at over $4 million per trial. People come to me as a disrupter who tries cases in counties where others won’t.”
The attorney keeps going. “I try to intimately dominate the courtroom, like I’m doing passionate missionary.”
The reporter barely gets a word in. The interview turns into a 45-minute avalanche of free association and ends with the attorney asking to borrow money, but the reporter thinks nothing of it.
A few hours later, the reporter turns in his story. He feels pretty pumped about it. He texts all his friends.
About 10 minutes after the story goes live, the editor’s phone rings. It’s the attorney. He’s so livid.
“This story is mocking me! It’s like I’m a narcissist who makes tons of money off victims.”
“I’m so sorry. This reporter is new. It was his first story. I’ll have a talk with him,” said the editor.
“The truth is...I am a piece of shit,” goes on the attorney. “Look at me. I’ve got everything. The best golf gear money can buy, and I can’t even come close to hitting the ball. I represent the disenfranchised while traveling around in a private jet. I steal money from clients. Also...I’m still on my mom’s cell phone plan. It’s pathetic. I’m 39 years old.”
After the call the editor immediately reprimands the new male reporter, who is also confused by the attorney’s response to a pretty anodyne profile.
“Were you trying to make him look out of touch by mentioning the private jet?”
“Not at all,” says the reporter.
“Was it your intention to mock him by mentioning how much money he’s worth?”
“No, that’s what he told me,” says the reporter.
All the reporter did was take down what the attorney said, accurately. The story was all favorable quotes from the attorney that pretty much wrote the story itself.
The next day both reporters come back to work, but they have changed. The male reporter has stopped shaving, while the female reporter has started smoking. They’re both a little irascible. They sit around, knowing they have to pitch stories in order to fill the newspaper. But what are they going to write about now?
“I got it,” goes the male reporter, flipping a baseball in the air.
“I’ll write about that fucking scumbag lawyer, but he can’t be just any lawyer. The story can’t look like a suck-up piece. I’ll write about how he’s a greedy egomaniac who pretends to help the little guy while ripping off clients. Because, I mean, he said so!”
With arms folded, the female reporter sternly shakes her head in agreement.
“Yea! And I’m going to write about the brewer. But it won’t be about how he makes awesome beer. It will be about how he’s a violent alcoholic who harasses his employees.”
And so the energized reporters immediately get to work.
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