RANDOM THOUGHTS ALONG THE WAY by GARRY ARMSTRONG

Cue up Sinatra’s “My Way” for this one. It’s applicable for some of the random thoughts that I’ll float your way. It’s perfect for some of the bonehead things that rest in my past. My way is how I did some things through the years regardless of the consequences.

Topping the random list is how I managed my finances during my long and relatively successful career as a TV news reporter. The pay was pretty decent in my bachelor years. I rarely worried about the future or the time when I no longer would have a regular paycheck, fattened by all kinds of special fees. My focus was narrow. Live and enjoy the day. There were all kinds of warnings. I heard the older reporters, muttering about staying ahead of creditors to keep their homes and their children’s college funds intact. I heard the words, but blithely thought this didn’t apply to me. Maybe someday, but not now.

During the years before direct deposit, we got our paychecks in the newsroom. Many of my colleagues would quickly deposit their checks, extracting enough cash for basics — gas, lunch and job related emergencies. Me? I wanted to walk around with a big wad of cash, barely fitting in my money clip. It made me feel good. I remembered all the years my Dad griped about his salary going straight from work to keeping things afloat at home. In my bachelor years, I silently vowed I would never have any such constrictions. So, I did it “my way”.

The local businesses must’ve smiled broadly when they saw me coming their way. I was always shown the latest fashions in clothing which led to me building a wardrobe fit for someone who I wasn’t. I became known as the natty “GQ” TV news reporter in Boston. We still have photos of me, the “GQ” reporter covering fires and other events where my garb was so questionable. I just lapped up the compliments, oblivious of reality. There were many suggestions from friends about financial consideration of the future. I didn’t hear them and you can’t blame my hearing deficiency or hearing aids for it.

The years went by with cash spent, credit cards maxed out and bills piling up, largely ignored by me. Hey, I was still the GQ reporter who dined in the finest restaurants where I was known by my first name and never worried about reservations.

It’s a familiar story. Karma finally caught up. Suddenly, I no longer was the brash young reporter but the very veteran journalist — too veteran. Eventually, I was no longer working. The randomness of all those warnings about fiscal wisdom came flapping home with the roosters — crowing about the mess I left my beleaguered wife (keeper of all our finances) and me in retirement. I sure did it my way and I try not to think about it. It’s painful in retrospect.

Stubbornness is another regular in my random thoughts. It’s part of my DNA. It played well professionally, enabling me to leap over adversity in a single bound. It played poorly in my personal life. You can easily find witnesses who’ll attest to my stubbornness. It was maddening for them. I always think I’m right until I realize I’m wrong. I confess I’m trying to turn my life around on this point but 79 is quickly approaching. This is a tough age to draw a line in the sand for myself. That being said, it’s better than ignoring obvious. Sometimes I am right but I think I’ve forfeited rightness after all those decades of donkey behavior. There’s a long line of people — mainly women — with sarcastic smiles on their faces as they read this.

Random thoughts used to be a standby in my professional life when we needed stories to fill out a newscast. You just sat, pounded out on the typewriter or keyboard – whatever thoughts popped out of your head. They didn’t need to make sense. They just had to sound smooth. I was pretty good at making nonsense sound good. Obviously, some reporters are still doing that today. They call it “breaking news”.

Speaking of the news, one more random thought. Why do I insist on watching the evening news every day? It drives Marilyn and Owen bonkers. It leaves me mumbling obscenities into my dinner. Marilyn and Owen talk over the news which irritates me and makes it hard for me to hear either their conversation or the news. My hearing devices don’t like background noise. More stubbornness?

I can’t help it. I’m an old reporter, forever wondering what new follies have been perpetuated on us. I silently digest the news, cross-checking them with previous stories I’ve covered, adding my own take on the story. In my more than forty years of professional journalism, I’ve been most places and have a pretty good sense of what’s going on. It’s always history repeating itself with the same results, the same perps, and a new generation of sleazy pols. Obviously, 45 and his disciples are something I never encountered professionally. Like everyone else, I’m left aghast.

One final thought: Spring training and baseball are just a few days away. Somewhere in the misty mid-region of my brain, I’m mildly excited. Our team — the Sons of Teddy Ballgame, aka The Boston Red Sox — offer little hope for success this year. I’m still excited about seeing baseball again, even with the pandemic wreaking havoc with every sport across the board.

I think I’ve given up on my dream, my 79-year-old dream of playing centerfield for the home team. But I’m stubborn. Tonight, to sleep, perchance to dream, maybe the Sox will sign me to a mega contract to lead them to the World Series. Considering who is on the team this year, it might happen this time.

I think maybe I’ll watch “Random Harvest” again tonight.



Categories: Anecdote, Garry Armstrong, Getting old, Humor, journalism, News, reporting

Tags: , , , , ,

9 replies

  1. I think you are always going to be a news man Garry. It makes you crazy but it would be hard to stop reacting to the news and the way it is presented after so long.
    I know that I have probably made some poor decisions over the years especially about finance. I could have worked harder, got more education. I could have not left jobs when I did. However, it is what it is. As Marilyn says, she knew what to expect with you and she loves you anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He’s an old news guy down to his bones — as are most of the media geezers with whom he hangs out. They can’t help it. They spent their lives trying to tell the truth and I think all of them, no matter where they otherwise stand politically, are horrified at how the press has been treated. It’s humiliating and after all the years they put into their work, it hurts.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Tas, I appreciate your thoughts. I have frequent flashbacks to those days of wine and roses. All I can do is shake my head and grumble. Grumble at myself. Karma is not a friendly guest at this house.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A long time ago, I read some words similar to these: The saddest words are “It might have been.” But it wasn’t. Whatever choices we made for whatever reasons are what happened. What might have been different might not have been any better. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of remembering about my life, and even my regrets are “iffy.” After my divorce, I never re-married, and I realize now that was a wise choice. I was too independent for a lifetime commitment. Sad,but true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you. There simply no point in wondering how it would have gone had you don’t something else. Yes, it might have gone better but it might not have gone better. It might have gone worse. I think we wind up where we are supposed to be. It may not be where we would have chosen, had we had that choice but none of us can predict where a choice is going to lead. I too wish we’d handled our money better, but we had a good time. We did stuff we wanted to do and we have great memories. We didn’t save it all for when we got old and while it’s nice to have money when you’re old, it’s also nice to enjoy it while you are young.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia, you are so right about “it might have been”. Regrets? Sure, more than a few. But there were so many good times. It’s hard to measure them against our current life status. Still, I’m here to share these things with kind and considerate folks like you. That’s a bonus in life.

      Like

  3. You didn’t want me to do your horoscope. Of course I did it anyway. Argue though you may with astrology, boy oh boy can you can a look at the nature of the person with whom you are dealing. Owen — our son — is a Taurus, supposed the most stubborn of all signs, but there are a lot of other things going on there that are chatty and friendly, so although he will dig his heels in, he is also open to changing his mind — albeit not necessarily immediately. Like most really stubborn people, it takes him a while to admit maybe he wasn’t entirely right.

    I’m stubborn — to a point — but then that Pisces sun kicks in and all I want to do it make peace, even when I don’t really agree. Still, if you get me mad enough, I get pretty hard-headed. It takes a LOT to get me that mad. I had a lot of years working at controlling my temper and it’s really only during the last 20 or so that I got a grip on it that usually works.

    Now you, on the other hand, not only have a lot of stuff stuck solidly in Taurus (like Jupiter and something else — I can’t remember at the moment and I don’t remember where I put your chart) , but your moon is in Capricorn and with an Aries sun, you’re a born fighter. I kind of knew what I was getting. I sort of thought you’d loosen up over the years, but boy, you are one tough cookie. It made you really good at your work, but I don’t think you learned compromise until recently.

    Good thing I adore you 💖

    Liked by 1 person

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