Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

But, I don’t hate YOU…

Because I cry.

There is a soft pink emotional underbelly to me that I don’t usually show to complete strangers.  However, it has been seen on more than one occasion by those who know me.  My family has seen it.  My colleagues have seen it.  Folks who have stood still long enough to chat about my children, relationships or autism have seen it — but, not complete and total strangers, as a rule.  Strangers come and go so quickly that there isn’t much time for deep, intense or meaningful interaction.  We pass each other like ships in the day or night with little more than a handful of innocuous words between us.  That is, until two weeks ago, when someone called me on the traffic line at the radio station where I work and unleashed holy heck and three of the most hurtful words, along with some others thrown in for good (?) measure.

Monday through Friday I sit in a roll-y chair in front of a microphone and talk through the AM airwaves of KHTS 1220 in the Santa Clarita Valley about community activities, traffic and weather to people I don’t know, but care about.  For four solid hours during the worst of evening commuter traffic (yet sweetly dubbed Afternoon T.), I check and update what’s going on with the highways and byways every ten minutes thanks to three websites, a road APP and call-in traffic tips.  It is particularly stressful when there is rain in the SoCal area which throws a wrench into the works, not because Southern Californians don’t know how to drive in the rain (email the peanut gallery comments), but because the roads become slimeways once freshwater meets the long-accumulated oil on our roads making slow and go traffic treacherous.  My heart squinches whenever I see the hieroglyphics that give me the roadway information.  Particularly : T/C, 1141, 1144, OT, W/Way (which stand for traffic collision, injury, possible fatality, overturned,  vehicle facing the wrong way, etc) – these are just a handful of the terms I have to translate in ten minute intervals, all while fielding phone calls, conducting interviews, timing out advertisement spots, music and the things I have to read on-air in between.  My heart pounds when the bad news filters in, because I care.

And as odd as it may sound, I am concerned for these faceless strangers – because they are members of my community… over 230,000 of them.  You see, the SCV is one of the most charitable, family oriented, people loving communities you will find anywhere.  When I first considered moving here, I sat in a local coffee shop reading the newspaper, two magazines and listened to the radio station and one of the things that struck me was how the local media presented either charity, academic or civic opportunities to serve the area nearly every single night of the week.  There were announcements for K-12 school events (public and private), senior center activities, medical fundraising and appeals for families in need.  It was pretty impressive to me, how involved the community was with one another, making the “It takes a village…” phrase to a whole new level.  It was the spirit of community that was the deciding factor that led me to invest in a home and a future in Santa Clarita.  When I was offered the position to be one of the voices of this community, it was so much more than a job.  It was an honor.

During a recent interview with an SCV newspaper, I was asked “What can listeners expect from your radio show?”  My answer was —

Because I cry.

Because I cry.

If I had to pick a word: Heart.  For me, every aspect of what I’m asked to give to our hometown (traffic, news stories, events) needs to have a human heartbeat attached.  I cannot serve up information about anything that is going on in our valley without feeling.  I don’t LIKE reporting collisions and refuse to “read” what’s on the screen and ask people to be patient and courteous as emergency crews deal with situations.  When a child is missing and I have to beg listeners to keep their eyes open, my heart hurts and I can’t disguise that in my voice.  They’re going to hear my heartbreak, my sympathy and my feelings on a topic – no matter what it is.

Any time I have to open that microphone and tell listeners about a child gone missing or someone injured or crimes committed against members of my community – my heart is involved.

When a woman called the traffic line a second time after she’d called to offer a traffic tip near the end of my shift a couple of weeks ago, it wasn’t with an update – she’d called the second time to chew me out because I’d sifted through her information, another caller’s info and the four above-mentioned sources to put into my 90 second on-air report and left out something she felt should’ve been left in.  I told her that in the few seconds that I had to process everything, I had to pull what I felt was most important and I was sorry if she felt I didn’t represent her information (which I really, really do appreciate).  She asked to speak to the station manager and before I could forward the call said, “I hate you. You’re the reason I stopped listening to this station.”

Ouch.

It’s okay if someone doesn’t like me.  I figure it’s like the difference between red licorice and black licorice.  Not everyone is going to like both.  But, to say you hate one of them is mighty strong language for something you don’t have to have.

Hate is an awfully strong word and one we don’t use lightly in our household.  When my kids were growing up I forbid the use of the word.  Early on, I explained that it was totally acceptable to hate news stories that tell of crimes against children and communities.  It is understandable to hate circumstances of war and madness.  But, I told my children you can’t hate the kid on the playground who is different from you or doesn’t want to play with you.  You can’t hate whatever it is that I worked to cook for you, out of love and concern.  You can’t hate religious leaders, celebrities or spokespeople who believe differently than you.  You can dislike the messenger, but not the message.  Turn it off.  Tune it out.  Walk away.  But don’t waste the most precious pieces of your heart and mind with hate.

After the phone call with the nameless, faceless stranger who said she hated me – I cried.

Because of my soft pink emotional underbelly, there is a handkerchief never far from my computer bag, purse or pocket.  It is there for the days I have to say that there is a toddler with autism who walked away from his home and was ultimately found unresponsive in a neighbor’s pool.  It is there for the nights I have to report a multi-vehicle traffic collision and I know that the coroner has been called to the scene.  It is there for the headline I am forced to read aloud about the father who is going to trial for the murder of his infant child.  It is there… because I care (whether one person likes me, or not).

xo – t.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” – Anonymous

“When you are outraged by somebody’s impudence, ask yourself at once, ‘Can the world exist without impudent people?’ It cannot; so do not ask for impossibilities.” – Marcus Aurelius Antonius

“I hope someday to make you all a cup of coffee. Alright, peace.” – Johnny Depp

My answer was Heart