My First Day
Posted on: June 12, 2012
The author fact checking.
When I arrived in Jeffersonville, Vermont, home of Alpinist Magazine, it was a Saturday and the rain was coming down with religious fervor. I didn't officially start work until Monday, but I wanted a few days to get acclimated to what would be my home for the summer.
When Monday rolled around, I got up early, wiped the sleep from my eyes, and checked my email, expecting to see an email from Alpinist's Online Editor, Keese Lane, about what time I should come into the office. Keese had been in Utah the previous week, and my fears that Keese was not going to email me at all were quickly being realized. So I did what any logical human being would do and filled my brain with hypothetical situations, all of which ended with me being fired for being late to the first day of my unpaid internship.
After a few hours of worry, I decided that email or no email, I was going to the office; maybe if I pleaded with them, and explained the absence of Keese's email, they would still let me intern with Alpinist. I pulled up to Alpinist headquarters, and was greeted by Katie Ives, the Editor-in-Chief of Alpinist. "Oh, you must be Josh!" she exclaimed. "Welcome to the office. We're so glad to have you here. I think Keese is in the back."
Keese is in the back? Why hasn't he emailed me? I turned the corner and Keese's eyes floated up to meet mine like two ice cubes in a glass of lemonade. "Hey man, my name is Keese," he said in a sleepy, northeastern voice. "Its nice to finally meet you." All of my fears were quenched in less than two sentences from the man that would be my boss for the summer.
Keese led me upstairs where I would be working, each step creaking louder than the last. The building looked a little dilapidated, but I assumed I would at least have my own place to work so I could have a nice, clean area. Those dreams were shattered when I was led to the staff meeting room, filled with posters of skiers and climbers whose suntanned faces and off-white smiles mocked my unfortunate office placement. I sat at the corner of the long desk and was handed my first story.
It was something about the Chinese discovering three new eight-thousanders. This is monumental I thought to myself. I couldn't believe that I was going to get to write such a cool story. I wrote up a first draft and walked into Keese's office, expecting a high-five and some much deserved praise. "Have you fact-checked any of this?" asked Keese. I had fact-checked it, but only with other Chinese sources, so it was back to the drawing board. That's when I figured out that one of the peaks was simply a side-peak to Annapurna.
I showed Keese what I had found, and he asked, "Have you looked at a map over any of these locations?" I think my growing despair was showing because Keese helped me dig out some maps of the Karakoram. After nearly four hours of work, we figured out the Chinese had simply discovered three side peaks, so the story and all the work I had done was thrown away.
Initially, I was frustrated that Keese couldn't see the brilliance of the news piece I had just written, but I was quickly reminded of a post-modern mantra I had heard before from apathetic "leaders" of my generation, but had never truly understood: Sometimes, the best thing to do, is nothing at all.
Not to mention, I got to email David Lama about a potential story. That was pretty cool too.