New adult on the block

I’m not sure when I switched from being a kid to an adult, but I think it happened and I missed it.

It seems like just three months ago I was sitting in my public affairs reporting class on the third floor of Moore Hall at CMU. My fellow journalism students and I received top-notch training but uncertainty still loomed in each of us about the day when we left scheduled learning behind and charted the real world.

Oh wait, that was three months ago.

Now I have my very own desk at the Pioneer’s Big Rapids office and peers who double as extremely thorough editors. I spend half of my time writing to my heart’s content and the other half making calls, going to events and meetings and listening to hilarious stories from the only non-Jew to serve in the Israeli army, also known as Jim Crees.

Five years ago as a junior at Reed City High School and an intern at the Pioneer, I remember being amazed at the brilliance of former associate editor Lindsey Wahowiak as she rearranged my words in a feature I wrote about Dynamite the Clown.

“When you go through college and have some experience, you’ll be able to do this too,” Lindsey told me.

In my first three and a half weeks at the Pioneer I’ve learned much more than how to structure a sentence.

Last week I learned the responsibility that goes into sustaining life. After neglecting to water my first office plant for three days, I then tried to compensate by drowning it. Denial and a brief mourning period later, I decided to replace it. The fabric flower I made from a tutorial on “Pinterest” requires much less maintenance and adds a touch of class to my desk.

I’ve also learned about reporter etiquette.

After offering my phone number to a man over 60, only to hear in response, “Aren’t you a little young for me?” (which actually happened twice) my phrase of choice is now “Can I offer you my extension?”

Which brings me to another important thing I’ve learned, my own phone number.

After giving out my cubicle neighbor Jon Eppley’s phone number as mine for two days, I’m surprised he only received one phone call from someone trying to reach me.

Failed plants and awkwardness aside, writing about the community I grew up in has by far been the highlight of my job.

There’s just nothing like talking with the county undersheriff after a bank robbery press conference, who also happened to be my D.A.R.E. officer in fifth grade.

Or taking pictures at a family fun night and hearing my fourth-grade writing teacher quote herself from earlier that week, “I said Sarah Neubecker was one of the best writers I’ve ever had, and now she works for the Pioneer!” (You flatter me, Mrs. Nelson.)

Or getting an e-mail from two of the regulars at McDonald’s, where I worked all through high school, saying they are very proud of me and excited to read everything I write.

With the warm reception I’ve experienced, and the wisdom of Jim Crees and Dave Clark to guide my steps, I can honestly say that the real world is a great place to be, and though I may be slightly naive, I only expect it to get better.

Story ideas? Let me know. E-mail me at sarah@pioneergroup.com or give me a call at (231) 592-8382. (That’s the correct phone number, I promise.)