Spent the morning at Holy Spirit Catholic elementary school in Vaughan, Ont. ("The City Above The Law"), where I’d been asked to take part in their annual Career Day. The deal was set up in the school gym, with people from various professions separated into stations. I was behind the "Journalist" table; other tables were marked "Firefighter," "Mechanic" and "Priest."
I've done this at a number of schools over the years. The first things kids usually ask is how much money you make. I was ready with my "Why, do you want to do my taxes?" line.
Sometime you go classroom to classroom. At this school, the kids were told to roam from table to table and ask questions. What do you say to kids who are thinking about a career in journalism, besides “RUN—RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!”
The good news was that the Grade Seven and Eight students had all heard of television. Some even had favorite shows.
Bianca, 12, loves Everybody Loves Raymond. "It's funny," she explained.
Jessica, 13, was already into Harper's Island. "It's exciting and you don't know what's going to happen next." said Jessica (one of four Jessica's in her class).
Krizia, 12, was into Ugly Betty. Another girl was a fan of Two and a Half Men. A couple of kids said they used to watch Degrassi, but that "it really sucked this year."
One girl actually confessed to reading—gasp—a newspaper. “I read Metro,” she said, “mainly about celebrities.” She wanted to know if I had interviewed Beyonce. The answer was no, so she moved on to the lawyer/fireman table.
Actually, the big action was at the Hairdresser table, where a woman was offering five minute hairdos. THAT was a big hit.
Damn—why didn’t I bring pictures of me with Howie Mandel and Donald Trump? Wait—those guys are geezers. How about Batman? No, not that potty mouth Christian Bale, the real Batman, Adam West. Mega-geezer. Note to self: next press tour, get photo taken with Michael Cera or the Jonas brothers. Or become a fireman.
A few boys approached the table but most split when they found out I didn't cover sports. One girl asked a lot of straight ahead questions. She'd make a good journalist.
"Is your job very stressful?" she asked. I had to think about that. I guess meeting constant deadlines is stressful, but it just seems part of the deal to me. I gave my usual joke reply about there being no heavy lifting. She looked at me and said, "Right--so you don't have to be in shape then." Nice shot kid. Choose your next question well, Grasshopper.
"Is your job hard on your family?" she continued. Back off, Itty-bitty Barbara Walters. Can't you just ask about the salary like a normal kid?
"I guess I've missed a few birthdays," I said, "although my kids got to meet Bill Nye the Science Guy and the dudes from Kraats Creatures and talk to the voice of The Brain from Pinky and The Brain on the phone."
"So it has its good points and bad points on the family side," she concluded. "Exactly," I said.
"What do you like best about your job?" she asked. That was easy--the interviews. Talking to smart people like Conan O'Brien or Dave Thomas or the kid from Paul Blart: Mall Cop I spoke with the other day, Adhir Kalyan. Or, sure, Drew Barrymore.
"So you like what you do," she said. Had to admit that I did. Dammit--this kid is good.