Career Experience: A Four Part Series

Part Three: Reporting LIVE

One of my first typewritten scoops took place at my friend Clayton’s. It was Christmas holiday, grade one. And my first sleepover. Mom packed me a large suitcase and a canvas duffel – clothing for a family for a week, for my fourteen hours out of the house. I believe there was a bag of food too, whether for preparedness or to insult my hosts, I can’t be certain. (I am. It was the latter. For sure.) I remember the excitement: going abroad (eight kilometres across town) and overnighting (sleeping bags on the floor). Genuine adventure! While mom stuffed the car trunk with my bags, food, and two snowsuits (don’t ask), I packed Lego and a typewriter, as you do. The only difference now is I travel with an iPad and the Lego’s discrete – a mounted knight or pirate and small boat – nothing showy. The typewriter was a Brother, manual, that came in a case that snapped shut. It weighed a ton. And I mean a ton, as we weren’t yet using metric. It weighed more than the big suitcase, duffel, food and snow gear put together, and I insisted on humping it along, two-handed, the beast thudding against a leg until I’d have to set it down every few paces and rest.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”#375C9C” class=”” size=””]I arrived at Clayton’s and we unpacked, distributing clothes, toys, food and setting up our typewriters on a coffee table in front of the TV.[/perfectpullquote] I arrived at Clayton’s and we unpacked, distributing clothes, toys, food and setting up our typewriters on a coffee table in front of the TV. A Santa Claus parade was being televised and we were going to report it, live, banging out stories in real-time along with the commentator.

I put a clean piece of paper into the roll, the satisfying sound of things winding, clicking into place, sliding the return arm across with a ding that seemed to ring anything was possible. The parade started. We watched, we mused, we typed – hunting and poking as best we could. It was fun, harmless, tiring. Clayton had a series of letters on his sheet of paper, I had misspelled words in stream-of-consciousness sentence fragments: Santa’s slay, raindeer, clapping and cheering peeple … a very good parad!

All in, an excellent news story. There was passion, a protagonist and supporting cast. I figured an editor could tidy it up if need be. Clayton and I agreed we’d earned a break. And I suspect his mom didn’t mind a ceasefire to the ding of typewriter returns. Clay went on to become a successful accountant. I went on to become a failed accountant. Both of us now do somewhat different things, and I wonder if he too still enjoys an aggressive hunt-and-poke when something worthwhile is on TV.

(To be continued …)


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Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of A Season on Vancouver Island, theGone Viking travelogues, andA Perfect Day for a Walk: The History, Cultures, and Communities of Vancouver, on Foot(Arsenal Pulp Press, Fall 2024). Recipient of a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions, Bill’s a frequent presenter and contributor to magazines, universities, podcasts, TV and radio. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land.