This is a great job I've got, but frequently a very frustrating one, too.
Mentioning just three of those frustrations might also help to explain a little bit about how we operate in this place some outsiders perceive as puzzling and perplexing _ the newsroom.
What frustrates me _ not to mention the people most affected _ is that we simply cannot write stories about every charity fund-raising event, every sick person who needs financial help and every local resident who dies.
All the worthy causes
Hundreds of people in our local communities work hundreds of hours planning charity balls and banquets and fashion shows to raise money _ needed now more than ever _ for hospitals and schools and organizations that sponsor research into diseases like cancer.
We try to list all of them in our "Mark Your Calendar" column, which normally runs every Friday, sometimes Saturday. This enables readers to find out about such worthy events in time to make reservations if they care and can afford to attend.
But the groups putting on these affairs understandably would like more prominent coverage, even though many of them cost more than most people can afford. For example, Mease Hospital's annual Toast to Life dinner-dance is coming up Feb. 29 at $75 per person, while Morton Plant Hospital's 1992 charity luncheon ($50) and charity ball ($200) will be March 7.
Good events for worthy causes. But what percentage of our readers would really take the time to read detailed accounts, if we had the time and space to provide them, of coming events they won't be attending anyway?
Exceptions sometimes are made for first-time events or those with a particularly interesting angle. Last month I wrote a column about the first Heart Ball to be put on by the Upper Pinellas Division of the American Heart Association, which will feature a silent auction of a sculpture in the shape of a heart done by a bypass surgery patient.
In a future column I'll be telling you about a progressive dinner in downtown Clearwater (a new fund-raiser for the Long Center at a reasonable cost, $25) and a wine-tasting fund-raiser for Abilities (one of the area's newest and fastest-growing events, with a $20 cost).
All the deserving people
We get more calls than you can imagine about people with major illnesses who desperately need money because they have no insurance or inadequate coverage. We write about many such cases, especially when children are involved, but simply can't do them all.
Just this week, for example, Chris Preston called me about her daughter, Tammy Martin, 33, of Clearwater, who will be undergoing a heart and kidney transplant operation. She has suffered two heart attacks and kidney failure.
She has insurance, but friends are trying to raise money for a lot of expenses that won't be covered. First up is a rummage sale March 6, 7 and 8 at Northside Square, 29259 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor. If you can donate some items, call Tammy's mom at 530-5605 or her sister, Nikki Uvaldini, at 787-4000.
That's all we can do, although it would be nice to write a full story about Tammy, her family and friends.
All the fascinating lives
Last, but not least, are those who die in our community. Most of them get a few lines in the newspaper in what we call short-form obituaries. Only a few are written up in story form, even though every one of them lived an interesting life that would make good reading.
A case in point is Joyce Cutter, 87, who was listed concisely in our obituary column Tuesday. She and her husband, Walter, moved to Dunedin 23 years ago from New York City. He had been a professor of English at New York University and she had managed a bookstore near the campus, which is how they met.
Mrs. Cutter, a native of Jamaica, was an accomplished pianist and worked for years in the publishing business. A close friend describes her as "a gifted and cultivated lady who traveled widely, read deeply and thought humanely," who brought to Dunedin, where she made many friends, a larger vision and who, typical of many retirees, enriched the community.
What a story she would have made, as would the 22 people listed with her.