Okay, I know this probably seems random, considering I’ve already E-mailed the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, USA Today, and other national publications. But reaching out to my local community is important to me. I did a summer internship at the Sentinel years ago, as a college freshman at Valencia, and it was by far one of the best experiences of my life. What’s more, I was able to publish my first story in a “professional” publication, when I wrote about the high incidence of spina bifida among Hispanics in Central Florida for their Spanish weekly El Sentinel. (I know, that subject is quite a stretch for me!)
The truth is, the people over at Orlando Sentinel have been really good to me. Shortly after starting classes at UCF, they published a piece I wrote for their “New Voices” column. But, as fun as all that was, it’s time for them to hear from me again.
Since we’re already on the subject, I have a Sentinel story to share with you. (No, it’s not a news story.) While I was doing my internship, which lasted for quite a few weeks, I remember always being frustrated at the fact that, despite their progress in the area of media technology, the elevator situation was in dire need of improvement. The main elevator that was available for my use was a freight, or cargo, elevator, that really scared the hell out of me. When you called the elevator, and it arrived, an alarm would sound, similar to a smoke alarm. (I’ve mentioned before I’m extremely sensitive to loud noises!) Eventually, I would develop a sort of panic attack when waiting for the elevator, and I never wanted to ride it alone, so I would always have my internship supervisor, or some benevolent reporter, accompany me. It got embarrassing.
To be honest, in addition to my irrational fear of loud noises, there was a very real safety concern in my mind. The door of the elevator opened vertically, like a gate lifting. One simple malfunction, and the entire thing could come crashing down on an unsuspecting employee. I was so disturbed by all this that I wrote a polite, but detailed letter to the person in charge of the physical plant.
Several years later, I ran into a friend of mine, former Sentinel sports editor Lynn Hoppes, at the UNITY: Journalists of Color Convention in Chicago. We talked for a bit, and then somehow (probably my doing!) we got on the subject of “my cause.” As a form of encouragement to me, Lynn informed me that after my internship, the Sentinel got to work on taking care of the elevator issue, and that the one they have now is much more humane.
That floored me. I was speechless. Something I did, some small effort on my part, made a difference. What’s more, I’m not even sure that the elevator repair is a direct result of my letter. Quite possibly, after ten or so weeks of witnessing my obvious distress with the elevator, other employees got involved, and stood up for me.
There may or may not be physically-challenged reporters, editors, or other employees at the Sentinel in the future. At least, now I know, that if there aren’t any, it’s not because a simple thing like a faulty elevator got in their way.
I shall leave you all for now to get ready for bed. After a doctor’s appointment this morning (I have recurring UTIs), Mom and I availed ourselves of the happy hour at The Palm, a really nice restaurant in the Hard Rock Hotel. We shared a couple of drinks and appetizers, and pretty soon, the place was crowded! (The bar is actually quite small, but it was very lively.)
Tomorrow, I go to have some bloodwork done for my doctor. That should be fun.