Internship full of my ‘Moments’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002

My editor Candy Parker just turned to me and made gave me an assignment that panicked me.

&uot;Write a column,&uot; she said.

Of course, the panic only lasted a short while, just like all the other times she’s looked at me and told me to do something I’ve never tried before.

These brief moments of &uot;Omigosh, how do I do that?&uot; no longer come as a shock, considering I have had a summer full of them.

I suppose that’s how an internship works.

&uot;Calm down,&uot; Candy said.

Ha. That’s easy for her to say. She said those same exact words when she told me a few weeks ago that I was going to cover President Bush’s visit to Birmingham.

That was real fear.

&uot;By myself?&uot; were the first words I managed to croak.

While covering the president, like many other experiences this summer, I racked up some of what my friends call &uot;Whitney moments.&uot;

&uot;Whitney moments&uot; are those times when things happen in real life that seem more appropriate to a slapstick comedy.

I arrived at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center at 4 a.m. I was groggy, but there.

I met Fred, another Reporter staffer who was there to take pictures. Come to find out, I really didn’t have to be there until 7 a.m. Apparently, the media advisory sent out was not very clear.

I was dragging at 7 when I got back to the Alys Stephens Center. So, I went in and waited for what seemed like hours. Oh wait &045; it was. I nervously fiddled with my recorder. I checked it over and over again, making sure it was ready to record and working properly.

When the President finally came at half after 10, I was so excited to see him, I jumped to my feet with the rest of the crowd to give him a standing ovation.

Apparently, my clapping was a bit overzealous, because I clapped the batteries right out of my recorder. I actually clapped the battery door so hard that it broke.

My entire recollection of the President was me sitting in the chair, holding the batteries in my recorder with my right hand and anxiously taking notes with my left hand in case the recorder wasn’t working.

That was just one of those infamous &uot;Whitney moments.&uot;

As a matter of fact, a &uot;Whitney moment&uot; happened on the very first day of my internship. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

I was sent to the Montevallo City Council meeting to take pictures of the presentation of some Beautification Awards.

When the council gave the introduction for the awards, I situated myself in the aisle so I could get great shots.

I began to click away at the award winners until, about halfway through, my camera stopped working. It just stopped taking pictures.

At the front of the room stood the residential beautification award winner, holding her certificate and smiling, waiting for me to take a picture.

After a few tense seconds during which I shook it, rattled it and even cursed it a little, I finally apologized, embarrassed that my camera wasn’t working.

As I was leaving, I decided to catch some of the winners outside and get snapshots for the paper.

I posed some winners, and tried to take some more pictures. The camera, of course, would still not cooperate. I couldn’t get it to work for the life of me.

A man who was in the shot, came over and tried to help me. We worked together to get the camera to work. I goofily laughed and said that it was my first day. He seemed sympathetic to my plight.

Together, we finally figured out the irritating contraption, I took my picture and he left. I began to get names of the people in the picture.

&uot;Who was that man?&uot; I asked.

&uot;That was Dr. McChesney,&uot; they answered.

I stared blankly.

&uot;The president of the University of Montevallo,&uot; they said.

I’m glad now I didn’t know at the time who he was &045; I probably would have been even more mortified.

&uot;Whitney moments&uot; continued throughout the summer, like when papers all over the state used an article I wrote.

I was so excited to see my name in print in other papers. I didn’t see my name, though. I only saw a mispelled version &045; Whitney Lews? Who in the world is this, and if she was there covering those events, why did I even go?

I also gained a title at the paper that no one would boast &045; obituaries editor.

I have typed in obituaries for people from one end of this county to the other; for infants to 100-year-old people; for homemakers to CEOs.

I know all about their families, their funerals and their lives. Depressing, isn’t it?

When I graduate from Alabama in May and begin a job search, the stories of my internship will be nothing but glowing reviews of all the things I learned about the newspaper business.

What I really learned, though, is that you can’t take anything or anybody too seriously. And this definitely includes yourself