Monday, January 01, 2007

Priorities

Nora Ephron has the best 2007 New Year's resolution I have heard so far:

I resolve to eat more waffles, even though this resolution is in direct conflict with my most important resolution of the New Year, which is to lose two pounds. Waffles are amazing. When I'm dying, I don't want to regret not having eaten more of them.
Who could disagree with that?

If you enjoy waffles, darn it, eat more of them. It doesn't mean you're going to eat them every day, or to the exclusion of any other foodstuff. If you usually have one waffle during Sunday brunch, have three this year. Have smoothies for breakfast the rest of the week. You can still lose two pounds. Or not, who cares? Life is short.

At any rate, I suspect that Nora's resolution is less about waffles than it is about deciding what's really important to you.

I resolved when I got married never to sacrifice scheduled time with my family for non-emergency unscheduled time at work. Actually, I made that resolution a few years before I got married.

It was the late 90s, and I was working as a television reporter in a top-50 news market. The newscasts in our city were live-shot heavy to the point of silliness. If there was a verdict in a murder trial at 9:00 in the morning, there was a 100 percent chance that the nighttime news crew would be doing a live shot in front of the darkened courthouse during the 11:00 p.m. newscast. That sort of thing.

So, one Halloween, one of the newsroom managers decided there just had to be an 11:00 p.m. live shot from some haunted house location somewhere. The only problem was, this was a last-minute decision, and the regular nighttime news crews were already allocated, so the assignment editor tried to wrangle one of the dayside photographers into working a double. Complicating the matter was the fact that the photog had promised his kids that he would take them trick-or-treating that night. I'll never forget the argument that the assignment editor used to convince this guy to ditch his kids in favor of his job.

"Hell," he said, "I never took my kids trick-or-treating!"

Even more memorable, though, is the photographer's response.

"Well, shame on you."

He didn't work the double. He didn't get fired, but I suspect that even if he had, he would have considered it a worthwhile sacrifice. They weren't asking him to work late for legitimate breaking news. It wasn't a plant explosion or an officer-involved shooting or even an accident with fatalities on the interstate. It was newscast filler. Nobody would have remembered that live shot ten seconds after it was over. Heck, nobody would have cared about it while it was airing. But if that guy had broken his promise to take his kids trick-or-treating that night, they would have remembered it when they were in their 80s. He knew that, and the tradeoff wasn't worth it. He had his priorities straight. I'll never forget that, and the lesson that I took from it has helped me to become a very happy husband and father.

Of course, it's possible that Nora's resolution really is just about the waffles. If that is the case, I only have one question: Belgian, or the other kind?

2 comments:

betmo said...

having integrity and staying true to your word seems to be a rarity these days. good for that photographer- and boy do i feel sorry for the editor's kids. makes me wonder why he and his wife had any. happy new year!!!

Anonymous said...

I am all for the waffles! What are the waffles in your life? Time with the wife/kids! We just had a week away with the extended family - IT WAS GREAT! Make sure to take the time and enjoy the ride because this is not a pretest it is the test! Make the most of today! We don't know what tomorrow holds. Have a great 2007!

Charlie W.