Posted in daily prompt, Journalism, Memories

My trip to Trier

Many years ago, in the early nineties, my boss sent me to Eastern Germany for a week to visit an engine factory which was producing pieces for a car manufacturer of my community.

The reunification of Germany was very recent. And the big western firms had just landed there occupying the old factories they had lost when the country was divided after the WWII. The firm I was going to visit had just installed the new state-of-the-art chain of production inside the old building and had trained the workers to start the production immediately. Finally, little by little they were repairing the building.

It was really interesting to see How they were doing the transition from the communist way of working to the Western way. Very efficient. The main problem, they explain us, was that the big communist factories that had given jobs for thousands and thousands of workers with obsolete systems, now could improve the production with only the 30% of the workers, so the unemployment was high those years.

Our hosts booked for us rooms at a hotel near Trier, the home town of Karl Marx. It’s an area were there are almost no catholics. But we were going to be there in Sunday and I wanted to go to Mass. A young man who was our driver, promised me he would do everything possible to find me a church.

On Sunday, very early in the morning he came to pick me up, and drove me for half an hour to a place were there was a regular one-story house, very old in appearance, all outside covered by dark grey concrete, that seemed a family house instead of a church.

I had no inkling on what was going to find inside. The door was open, so I went in and the first thing I saw was an enormous organ with a man playing Bach beautifully and a space with the walls covered with child’s drawings, and like ten or twelve pews full of people in front of an altar.

I know no German, but I was deeply moved by the celebration because of the faith and the sense of community I could feel in those people. When we finished I had to wait for my driver . And I could see that the mass goers were looking at me quizzically. A woman left the group and approached me. She could speak a little English, and she asked me if I was going to stay with them, because the community wanted to welcome me. I explained to her that I was a Journalist and I was going to left next day and she seemed disappointed.

She explained me that they were a little community but very active, with a little Sunday school. That they were there for me in whatever I could need. I certainly felt welcomed and part of a community in which I only partook one Sunday, thanks to my kind driver.

Inkling

Fernando

There was a living legend in my newsroom. A seasoned coworker who had lost his right arm in an accident during her youth, but was able to write fast enough with his left hand. He had a vast culture and he had among others a very popular column about music, his passion.

He was known among us because he had answers for everything . His memory and his encyclopedic knowledge was impressive. Before the times of Wikipedia and google, when we needed some data, we asked him because it was faster than go to check in a book or an encyclopedia. Sometimes my coworkers used to asked him difficult questions just to try him. In my 27 years working besides him I never caught him in a fault.

Only once, he didn’t know the answer to the question a journalist made him. But he sure knew where to find the answer in a few seconds. Even when the Internet was the king of the information, we used to check with him. He was fast, reliable, and human.

Bright, with a peculiar sense of humor. Resorting to him you would take back an answer and a smile or a laugh. Fernando (FPO) never disappointed us. Only when he got ill too soon and passed away. The companion and friend left us, The legend remain

Legend

Posted in daily prompt, Family, Memories, Uncategorized

Not fair

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When I was a student at the University, my father was one of my teachers. I studied Journalism and he was a teacher of Literature, Technology and Ethics. I could attended at his classes which were magnificent above all the Literature an ethics ones. But he couldn’t examine me because I was his daughter.

He was known because he never let his students fail in an exam. They knew all of them would pass, but nevertheless they studied a lot for his exams. How did he get it? Nobody knew. He used to tell them if they wouldn’t work enough then, they will fail later in life. And he was able to convince them.  He was really kind and always open to talk with his students.

So, when all my classmates had guaranteed that they would pass the exam, I had to go to render my exam to a different professor. In Ethics I had to face  the toughest teacher of the Faculty who asked me tricky questions without any mercy. I didn’t want mercy, just justice. And that was not fair. At the end I passed, but it was hard.

In the picture, dad at the University

Mercy

Posted in daily prompt, Family, Memories

Lost Nest

Mom's 1

Now that my mom has passed away, her nest is empty. Her house, a meeting point for all of us, plenty of great remembrances, is now a sad and solitary place. The place where I used to go to find refuge and solace is gone.

Soon it will begin the time of Advent and after that, Christmas. Every year I used to spend many time with her, planning what to do, what presents get ready for the kids, how to set the simple grotto scene in the living room, under the Christmas tree full of decorations and lights.

And because she was so sick and paralytic, I was the one doing all that things under her loving directions, while we listened to traditional carols .

We used to laugh like kids at the slightest reason or without any reason at all.

I loved the moment when I had finished decorating the tree and the whole living room. It was usually at the evening. I used to turn off all the lights except the ones on the tree and the grotto scene and all the other decorations. Then I used to go to my mom’s room and bring her, pushing the wheelchair, to the living room.

The wonder in her face was my best reward. Her eyes were bright and smiling and my heart was dancing. I’m going to miss you so much, mom!

In the picture, my mom’s armchair, empty

Nest

Posted in daily prompt, Journalism, Memories

Disturbing Moonless Nights

As a reporter I had to report about a shooting between policemen and terrorists that took place in a natural landscape of great beauty, a narrow gorge formed by a river.

Apparently, four terrorists were making plans for an attack while spending the day by the river, when they were intercepted by the police by chance.In the shooting a policeman died and another was wounded. The terrorists fled along the riverbank and disappeared into the vegetation.

The river is not practicable to swim because it has dangerous swirls and very deep pits and the only accesses to the gorge are the ends of the old railway tunnel wich runs well above the river bed. The police closed the two ends, as soon as the shooting occurred, so that the terrorists had no way of getting out of there.

And the manhunt began with the special forces using choppers in the air and dogs on the ground. The moonless night fell, black as tar. There was no trace of the terrorists. At dawn, one of them, badly wounded in the head, surrendered to the special forces that were combing the area and took them to where the others were at the river’s edge. they were dead. They had decided to commit suicide before being captured. He had tried to commit suicide but he had missed the shot. It was a pretty mysterious how the police didn’t hear the shots while combing the place.

I was horrified by everything that was happening. I had been the first journalist on the scene with my photographer and I was there when the terrorists were still on the run. Pretty dangerous despite we were going everywhere with the police.

The next night, a neighbour from the town closest to the place called my newsroom saying that shots had been heard again in the gorge. The terrorists were already dead. The special forces gone. ¿what could possibly had happened? My boss sent me to investigate.

I was very young and was in charge of another journalist even younger than me. We went with a beginner photographer. We arrived at the gorge and again we found ourselves with a dark and moonless night. But this time was scarier because we were completely alone. No police, no other journalists. no living soul.

We asked in the village and nobody had heard anything. When we arrived with my little Panda car at the black entrance of the tunnel I knew that there was no possibility of turning around to leave in one mile, and I felt responsible for the other two who were with me. So I decided to go around to the exit of the tunnel to see what we could find there.

Everything was dark and silent and again nobody had heard anything. We went a little further to the police station to which the dead and wounded policeman belonged to speak with their pals and they confirmed that everything was quiet. So we went back to the newsroom with nothing to report other than an update about the health of the wounded police officer, but at least we were safe and sound.

Black

Posted in daily prompt, Family, Memories

Dad’s angel

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Every Christmas eve, my dad used to build a grotto scene in the living room with little figurines of st Joseph, the Virgin Mary, the Baby Jesus and the shepherds, under the Christmas tree.

He had a beautiful a valuable figurine of the angel who announced to the shepherds the good news and he always put it in the scene gingerly at the end. When the angel was in its place it meant that everything was ready and the feast could begin.

Then, we could gather around the scene and the tree and pray, sing carols and finally open the presents.

The figurine, dad’s angel, no more than six inches tall, was very artistically done had every finger modeled one by one and a very peaceful face. It’s been more than 60 years than my dad bought the figurine and it looks completely new.

Now my sister keeps it in her house. She also takes very good care of it. It brings very good memories of all those Christmas at our home when we were all together and happy, and everything had some kind of sweet magic.

Those were wonderful years and now we are trying to build similar memories for the youngest in our family so they could also treasure wonderful memories of family life
Gingerly

Posted in daily prompt, Journalism, Memories

The mysterious tape

Once, my boss sent me to make an interview to a scientist who had done some research in a very complicated and highly specific area of the bio chemistry for his PhD. The headline of his thesis was completely incomprehensible. The whole thing certainly might be interesting for the scientist community but very difficult to explain for the general public. But the scientist, a young man, was the nephew of a good friend of my boss, so his study had to become news in my newspaper no matter what.

When I asked him for an interview, he was surprised. He couldn’t understand why a journalist of a local newspaper could have any interest in his work. I asked him to explain me what was he doing in his lab as if I were (as I actually was) a completely ignorant about the matter.

I put my recorder in front of him and began to ask questions and take notes. He started to tell me about technical terms incomprehensible for me. He didn’t know what “say it in plain English” meant. There was no way to make him touch ground. I tried my best, but, when I went back to the newsroom I only had some chaotic notes and a tape (it was before the digital era) with 45 minutes of a recorded conversation in which I had placed all my hopes.

I rewinded the tape, I pressed the play button of my tape recorder to listen to the interview and mysteriously, all the conversation sounded backwards. Yes. Our voices were there talking, but it was like we were swallowing each word. It was impossible to understand a single one of them.

In all my life as a reporter never had happened to me something like that. I’ve never had found an explanation to such a strange behavior of the tape. It never happened before, never after. I asked technicians an other journalists, and nobody could give me an explanation. Of course, without the recording I couldn’t write the interview.

In the picture, me and my tape recorder in another interview different that the one described in this post.

Mystery

Posted in daily prompt, Memories

Gratitude

me

I suffered a deep depression while working in the newsroom of a newspaper. One of my coworkers, a great friend of mine, knew all about of my condition. When that all begun, I only could feel an enormous tiredness and I couldn’t stop crying. This was pretty embarrassing while I was in the newsroom full of people who could see me.

My friend always noticed that I had begun to cry before anyone else, and saying nothing she quietly, used to came to my desk and tell me: come with me. We then used to go out of the building, to the parking lot, to get some fresh air and she would comforted me and wouldn’t let me until I recomposed myself somehow, before coming back to continue working.

Eventually I went to the doctor and I had to stop working for a while. She was a great help for me in those dark days. I’m deeply grateful to her for had “rescued” me during those dreadful hours. She’s still my best friend.

Gratitude

in the picture, me, one of those years

Posted in daily prompt, Journalism, Memories

Surreal

As a reporter I witnessed a police operation against a violent terrorist cell in my city, and two years after, I was called to take the stand as a witness during the trial against the terrorists. They promised me total discretion and that my name would not be disclosed.

I had to go to Madrid because the crimes related to terrorism are competence of a National High Tribunal. Once there, we, the witnesses, were waiting for the beginning of the trial, when a bus with supporters of the terrorists coming from my city arrived. The clerks and the security guards wanted that we were called by our names publicly in front of all those people who were looking at us as the enemy. Finally, talking with the security guards, we entered the building thru another door.

While I was waiting for my turn to take the stand I was searched thoroughly by a police woman, like if I was a criminal instead of a witness. Then, when my turn finally arrived, I entered the courtroom, and I had to stand next to an armored glass cage where the accused were. One of them had threatened me to death two years before when the police operation was taking place. I looked at them. They were laughing at me.

The first thing the judge said was ask me about my name and surname and repeat them aloud several times, because my surname is not very easy to pronounce for a Spaniard. Next he said aloud my address. So, that was the total discretion they promised me. The alleged terrorists in the cage were laughing loud, apparently having a great time. (They explained afterwards to me that it is a tactic of them to intimidate the witnesses).

To my surprise, the District Attorney didn’t know what to ask me. He didn’t know I was a journalist and that I had written everything I’ve seen in my newspaper. He didn’t know that I witnessed how one of the suspects opened the door of a hiding place where there was a large cache of weapons… I couldn’t believe it.

Finally, I finished answering questions and was dismissed. When all that was over, I wanted to refresh my mind and I decided to go to visit some museums in Madrid.

I went to El Prado, and when I was inside, suddenly there was an alarm and we were all evicted by bomb warning. I went to the Thyssen Museum, and it happened again.

So I decided to take a walk far away from the courthouse and wait calmly for the hour of my trip back home. Surreal
Surreal