April 23, 2001

Everyone has fascinating stories to tell, if you listen

Josh Renaud

"Join The Current and see the world!"

When I got this editor-in-chief job last spring, I had no idea that that distortion on a Navy slogan would turn out to be so true.

But this year, I've been to so many places I've never previously been to, like New York City, Washington D.C., Georgia and Israel, to name a few. These trips were blessings, and they enabled me to meet a lot of new people.

I love to meet people. When I visited New York in December, I decided to check out the NBC Studios. I didn't have much money, so I nixed taking the paid tour. Instead, I wandered through the gift shop, marvelling at the vast array of TV junk--everything from Cheers T-shirts to Katie Couric playing cards.

An employee noticed my red St. Louis Cardinals stocking cap and interrupted me. We quickly struck up a baseball conversation, since the Cardinals had been knocked out of the playoffs only a couple months earlier by the New York Mets. Inwardly I smiled as I listened to this man through his thick New York accent. I was talking with a real, live New Yorker!

In Israel, I remember meeting so many fascinating people, including an ultra-orthodox rabbi who answered one of my biggest questions ("Why do the ultra-orthodox wear the style of clothing they do, if it's not mandated in the Old Testament?") and a beautiful Israeli Arab woman with distinctive Persian features, who is trying to be a voice for an overlooked and increasingly disheartened segment of the Israeli population.

At UMSL, I got countless chances to meet people in various circumstances with different outlooks on life. I remember the day I found out a Black Student Orientation was going to be held on campus later in the evening. I was surprised I hadn't heard anything about it before that point, but I wanted to make sure The Current had a presence there.

I recruited another staff member to come with me and set up a little table. We talked with folks about the paper and got their opinions on it, as well as offered job opportunities to anyone who was interested. I ended up meeting some great people, especially in the gospel choir. My favorite, though, was the guy showing off his web design abilities on a little laptop he brought with him. We didn't know each other, but we hit it off instantly, sharing the common language of technology (some might call it "jargon").

This year, I've relished my opportunities to develop relationships with janitors, police officers, secretaries, telephone operators (especially UMSL "Operator 1"), mailroom personnel, international students, the folks in Graphic and Printing Services, and that MetroLink guy who missed the last train late one Sunday night (or Monday morning, depending on how you look at it).

They are the ones who have the most interesting stories to tell. I regret we at The Current didn't do more to share their stories within these pages. It's my hope that our successors will do better next year.

This article was reprinted with permission from The Current.

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