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We were somewhere above the wetlands of southern Louisiana when the helicopter door opened.
If you want adventure, there is no better job in the world than being a reporter. Many of my colleagues have done heroic work as war correspondents, traveling to and witnessing hotspots to help contain Ebola or coronavirus. heartbreaking conditions among the world’s poorest people. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.
On the other hand, as a journalist focused largely on the role of science and technology in our lives, I did what I love to do: to spread. I’ve traveled in The New York Times in 21 years. airboats, river sweeps and one moon chariot prototype, flew in zero gravity twice and even (briefly) a jet pack.
I have watched high school students pop watermelonsclimbed into Albuquerque’s sewers and stopped safely million-volt electrically restrained metal suit. Along the way, I’ve written stories for nearly every episode of The Times.
Which brings me back to the other helicopter ride, once the door opens.
I was sitting across from Kenneth R. FeinbergLawyer and groundbreaking mediator who created victim compensation funds after tragedies like the September 11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the BP oil spill on this steamy day of 2010. He urged Southern Louisiana to zip through presentations in four communities that day with a car, a BP-paid private plane, and a government helicopter, and urge those affected by the environmental disaster to take action. register for placement.
I had planned to travel with him for a day and trying to keep up was exhausting. We were all feeling sleepy as the helicopter took us to the state’s most watery southern towns and the afternoon heat of summer rose in the cabin. Mr. Feinberg leaned against the door.
Suddenly, the cabin was filled with wind and the roar of the rotors above. Feinberg was strapped into a seat belt, but his body still lurched to his left, into space. Despite the restraints, the moment was confusing and frightening, and Amy Weiss, Mr. Feinberg’s longtime spokesperson, jumped in to pull it completely into place as the two of us struggled to close the door and squeeze the locking lever.
Feinberg looked at me wide-eyed and said with a perfect expression, “He it would be a story.”
See the dictionary under “aplomb”. Mr. Feinberg’s picture should be there. I saw a person who could heal with extraordinary speed even in an extreme moment and still fall out of line, and I felt that I knew him much better than at the beginning of that long day.
Then we got off, got off and gave another speech. And then another one.
This is a trip I wouldn’t change for anything.
At the end of the week, I’ll be leaving The Times for another dream job: teaching journalism at the University of Texas, my grad school, and serving as vice director of UT’s new Global Sustainability Leadership Institute. This is a different adventure. As a teacher, I help my students approach scientific issues fearlessly and communicate clearly; asking good questions and demanding honest answers. To help future readers not only understand, but see and feel.
And to drive.