I have officially been living and working in Phoenix for a month now. Man, didn't think I'd make it past the first week. It was dreadfully slow. Things are better. I at least feel like I've gotten to the point where I feel comfortable joking with co-workers. Before, I was keeping it formal and focusing on learning the ropes. I have to say, so far, it's proving to be the nicest workplace I've been at in terms of the people. I doubt my boss, the news editor, would fly into a tirade at other staffers littered with curse words like f*** or c*** (I've heard it all). And even when everyone is focused on their work, they don't give off an I-can't-be-bothered vibe. Now that I'm at my Nth journalism setting, there are a few workplace truths that seem to be universal.
1. Advertising/marketing and editorial departments never mix. Our sales staff works out of the office right now 'til our new bureau is finished. Even when it's done, I heard they will rarely be seen -- like they're too important to mingle with us.
2. The guys who cover sports are almost always rambunctious, frat-boy types. The main sports reporter here, Bob, is really cool and really, shall we say, vocal. I can always hear him from the other side of the room. He's really liberal and looks a tad like Mark Twain, except in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. He openly talks about his personal life. Bob is in his second marriage, which he said "is better than his first -- in an odd way." Or a reporter will give quotes over the phone to Bob and he'll say "I put the 'dic' in dictation!"
3. Editorial assistants (my position) always get the odd research and go-fetch tasks. I have to do things sometimes like go down to the county courthouse and track down a search warrant affidavit or lawsuit. I've also been learning how to browse the public court records on-line. Yesterday, I had to find out any information about this Jamaican man who was just sentenced to 13 months in jail for trying to enter the country illegally. Apparently, he paid a Mexican doctor in Arizona to remove skin from his toes and attach it to his fingers to "clean" his identity. Sheesh, the U.S. is great but I don't think it's worth surgically altering oneself.
On another subject, my mother is visiting me this week. Yesterday, we went to First Fridays. During the first Friday of every month, downtown Phoenix galleries and some retails shops open 'til 11 p.m. It's actually pretty cool. I didn't know Phoenix had this whole artistic, somewhat punk subculture. Musicians and artists can set up shop pretty much wherever. Someone put all their paintings on display in an empty U-haul truck and decorated the inside with X-mas lights. One band set up speakers and lights in a dirt parking lot and the drummer sat on the back of a pick-up truck and the rest of the guitarists stood on the ground in front of him. It's like NYC's East Village in the desert. You either come away thinking 'Wow, Phoenix has a great bohemian atmosphere' or 'Wow, more people in Phoenix need jobs.'