That’s why they call them rumors

It’s hard to explain the adrenaline rush to someone who hasn’t been there.
The blood pulsing.
Your heart thudding.
You’re excited, yes, but it’s that nail-biting, stomach-knotting, heart-wrenching kind of excitement that could shoot you out of your skin at a sudden noise.
The closer I got to the fire at Hills Resort, the worse it hurt.
It’s my job to go to fires.
I don’t relish the experience, don’t envy the firefighters racing into harm’s way.
Every inch of me wishes this wasn’t happening because I know somewhere there’s an owner watching those flames do their dance over their memories and their life.
My job tells me to put that aside.
Like Joe Friday said, “just the facts, ma’am.”
Fortunately, I work in community journalism.
I can gather my facts with at least a smattering of tact, a sense of humanity, a spark of respect.
I choose to put the people as close to first as I can muster.
I give the owners a wide berth and leave the officials to do their job – provided they give me a number to reach them later.
It’s a line I’m proud to have created, a line I’ve seen crossed by the gung-ho folks I classify in that villainous group “the media.”
That’s them, and this is me.
I watched the Hills’ clubhouse burn as a reporter.
That’s why I was there at 4 a.m., ratty sweatshirt and work-out pants thrown over my pajamas, my mouth still reeking of unbrushed teeth, eyes bloodshot from contacts quickly jammed in place.
But I also watched it burn as a neighbor whose lawn would soon be covered in the detritus of 50 some years of concerts and wedding receptions, dances and fundraisers.
By daylight, the rumors had already begun to float.
“They’re selling. They’re staying. It was arson. It was carelessness.”
I thanked my lucky stars once again that I work at a community newspaper.
I can officially ignore the sensational idiocy that springs from too many jaws with nothing better to do.
I wrote the facts.
No more. No less.
I suppose there’s adrenaline of a sort that fuels the rumor mill.
I hear the same story after every fire.
“They were selling it anyway. The neighbor down the road did it.”
People get excited. They start yapping, and away she goes.
The bigger the whopper, the harder the teller’s heart starts thudding, the wider their eyes grow, the faster the pulse.
My job makes me an adrenaline junkie, so I’ve got to strike a balance.
A smattering of tact, a sense of humanity.
It works every time.

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