I couldn’t get enough bars on my phone. How could I do my job? How would I make it through the weekend if I couldn’t get the information I needed now?
Those were the thoughts that I brought along with me as I went through the day on Saturday.
It started early in the morning when my husband told me about a story he saw on the website of the local TV news station: there had been a suspicious death in the county that the sheriff’s office was investigating.
At my newspaper job, I cover the county: the government, courts and the sheriff’s office. I needed to find out what was going on.
So I took a quick shower (quick for me) and jumped in my car to try to find the site of the investigation, hoping there would be officials available to give me a statement.
Some background: One of the things that bothers my obsessive-compulsive disorder the most with my job as a reporter for a weekly newspaper is depending on others to get in touch with me.
I write my stories based in large part on talking with others. Some of that is done by phone. I leave a lot of voice mail messages; I wait for a lot of people to call me back.
I have a hard time waiting for them to call back.
I obsess over whether or not I punched in the correct phone number to call the person. What if I left my voice mail message on the wrong phone for the wrong person? If I’m using my cell phone, I compulsively check the call history to make sure I called the correct number.
When I don’t get a call back right away, I worry that the person never got the message. So I call again, compulsively checking the number again.
Saturday morning, I drove up and down the road where the person who died had lived. I searched for the house, looked for yellow police tape, for sheriff’s office vehicles, for signs of a crime scene. I found none.
I worried that I wasn’t doing due diligence, so I put more miles on my car than was necessary to try to find the scene.
I finally saw a couple of deputies on the side of the road, and they told me to contact the major about the case.
I have regular contact with the major. I tried his office phone first: voice mail. Then I tried his cell phone number, which I had programmed into my phone and written down in my little phone book I carry with me.
It was a wrong number. Now I worried about the accuracy with which I had written down the number in the first place. Maybe he had just changed his number. Maybe I hadn’t been careful enough.
I finally left two messages: one on his office voice mail and one with dispatch. That covered all the bases I had available.
Back home, my husband asked me if I still wanted to go on the outing we had planned for the day. I didn’t expect a call back any time soon, and I had my cell phone with me, so I said yes.
I didn’t realize that during parts of our trip on back roads, I’d have no cell connection. I received notice that I had a voice mail. I thought it was probably from the major, but I couldn’t even call my voice mail system to hear it. No bars.
We finally reached a small city where I could listen to the message. He hadn’t left any numbers for me to call, so I called his office again, then dispatch again and left another message.
I knew then we’d be driving back into areas with no nearby cell phone towers, so I began to obsess over not getting to talk with this man.
What if he tried to reach me again and just got my voice mail? What if he got mad at me and didn’t try again? What if I couldn’t get any information until Monday? Then I wouldn’t be able to get anything on the website. My whole weekend would be ruined if I couldn’t talk with him that day.
So my thinking went.
But I was with my husband, and we were going to a lovely place (which I’ll write about in a future post), and I decided to try to focus on him and what we were doing and not worry about the major.
The thought that I was going to miss out on the story crept in from time to time, but for the most part, I was able to focus on the moment.
My anxiety returned as we drove back to cell service areas. Long story short, I left another message, and the major left a couple of messages, and we played phone tag. I finally got to talk with him.
I learned that the suspicious death was indeed a homicide.
When we got back to Altavista, I went into the office, wrote a short brief and loaded it up on our website.
Then finally I could go home and relax.
I had an anxious day. But, of course, I suffered nothing like the family of the man who had been murdered. God bless him and God be with his family.
Do you ever have days full of anxiety, with one thing after another happening? How do you respond?