SOMETIME in March 2008, I sent in an application to one of the local newspapers. After two weeks without a response, I called them to arrange an interview. Surprisingly, I was granted one. Incidentally, the laptop computer my mother had promised me eight years earlier finally came.
I went for the interview with the editor the following week. He seemed quite interested in my knowledge and passion for the field of journalism but he needed samples of my writings. Being a poet, I was somewhat at a disadvantage. I told him I would furnish him with the relevant material within the following days. And here is how I did it.
The ruling party was holding its party convention that very weekend and I seized the opportunity to practise the procedures I had learned from the Teach Yourself Journalism text book I had been reading cover to cover ever since buying it in 2001.
The convention was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. that Sunday. I left my Chopin home at 8:00 a.m. with writing material, a small tape recorder, a bottle of water in my JanSport backpack and two dollars in my pocket. After getting off the bus in Castries, I was dead broke.
I walked the rest of the distance to the Castries Comprehensive Secondary School with the morning sun on my shoulders. As I entered the convention venue, I saw a sea of yellow uniforms that confirmed the party’s loyalty. I was there for a fair and balanced report for my prospective employer so I stuck to my neutral white tee shirt and brown shorts.
The proceedings soon got under way. My pen was swimming through words as they came. I recorded excerpts from each speaker to save space on the 60-minute tape I had, all the while contending with excruciating thirst and hunger.
Lunch was free and I thanked God and my beautiful island for being friends in need. The rest of the proceedings took us into the night. By the time the results of the convention were revealed, it was already tiring for me. I stuck close to some friends of mine who had means of transportation. They gave me a free ride straight home. It was 9:10 p.m.
After a quick shower, I began tapping away on the keys of my laptop to file the report while it was still fresh in my head. I checked and rechecked the draft. Then I checked again. The next day I brought it in to the editor on a CD, along with a feature item I had also penned. He told me he would contact me.
Around 8:30 p.m. the following day, I was in the Central Library for the revamping of our Writers’ Forum when I received a text message from a close friend informing me that I had made headlines in the newspapers. I went around the corner and bought the Tuesday edition of The VOICE. It was my verbatim report on the convention. Front page. The byline “By Guest Correspondent Stan Bishop” seemed unreal. It still does.
A week later, the feature item was published. Four days later, the editor called and asked me if I was working. I told him no and he asked me to come see him later in the day. I was overcome with emotions but I wish to not elaborate on that at this time.
At the interview later that day, he told me not to seek employment elsewhere and that they will be typing a formal letter of commencement for me within the week. A lifetime of odd-jobs had then culminated into my dream job!
Since joining The VOICE seven years ago, I have been privileged to work alongside and be inspired by some of the best and brightest people in the business. This job has taken me places I never thought I’d go and brought me into contact with many people that I’m sure I never would have met.
Most of the opportunities I have been privileged with thus far must be attributed to everyone around me playing some part in my development as a writer, journalist and friend. I have been able to learn from the many stories I write. I still have a long way to go as I develop my talents. As such, one of my aims is to continue wearing the attributes of pride, hard work and resilience of the 130-year-old institution on my sleeves for as long as it takes. This is my dream job and I wouldn’t trade it for anything less.
Happy anniversary, VOICE family!