The final chapter in my career with the company arrived unceremoniously in four very average cardboard boxes. The belongings were well cared for and meticulously catalogued on labels but I really didn’t want to look. After sixteen years with the company, twelve in Los Angeles, I knew what the boxes contained. I knew about the family photos and mementos and reminders of stories I held near and dear to my heart. I still do. You never forget those stories. They become etched on your soul. But then something glimmering caught my attention in one of the boxes. I popped the lid.
Sitting inside on a heap of my history was a silver bell. THE silver bell. It still had my name etched on the side. Truth be told, I thought I had lost it long ago. But there it was. It wasn’t as shiny as it used to be and my name wasn’t as sparkly as it used to be but I bet it still worked. Ding. I smacked down on the top of the bell and the sound echoed through my garage. Ding. I did it again. Ding ding. I did it again. And as I hit the bell, the memories came flooding back.
You see, I was just a young TV news producer when I started in LA. We were ALL so young. And we were scrappy. We fought over stories for our newscasts, we dug for unique stories, we battled like siblings wrestling for attention. One day, a fellow producer came up with the ingenious idea and she presented me with “the bell.” From that moment on, if we both spotted a story at the same time, if we wanted to plant our flag in it and make a claim that the story was MINE and nobody else’s, we’d hit the bell. She had a matching one (although I think she had far superior hand/eye coordination). Several times a day in the newsroom, you’d hear the hands smack and the bells ring as we staked a claim to stories. We were young and we were hungry and hearing the bell couldn’t help but make you smile.
Those bells seem like so long ago. They were. Over the years, I feel like I grew up in that newsroom, WE grew up. Soon we worked with the next round of producers.
Slowly the bells were silenced, taking their place in newsroom history among the dust bunnies and lost pens behind the desks. That is, until today, in my garage, when my bell turned up in one of four very average cardboard boxes. I found my bell again. And it sounded great. As my career with that company finishes, I remember the ringing of the bell, and the friendships, and the scrappy nature of some young and hungry TV news producers who never settled for second best. I can still hear the ringing of the bell. I always will.