There are worse events than working during the holidays.
The weeks surrounding Christmas are promoted as being about other people; the season is supposedly as much about giving as it is about getting.
We get busy and we forget that.
My reminder came on Tuesday in the form of a series of unfortunate news events.
Before noon, a Times-Herald employee let the newsroom know about three police cruisers on the 300 block of Main Street.
I walked over to find two Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) cruisers (one with lights on and another without), and a police van.
The van is commonly known as the “ident. van,” short for Forensic Identification Unit van. It usually signals serious injuries or death.
Sure enough, a woman died in the hallway of an apartment building in what police on-scene described as “not suspicious.” One officer speculated the woman succumbed to a long battle with an unspecified illness. He said the family had yet to be notified.
We stood outside of the building in silence. I thought of the woman’s family who were forced to deal with death on Christmas Eve.
There’s probably no perfect time to die, but the holiday season would be the worst for those left behind to grieve.
I thought of 46-year-old Andrew Matte, reporter for the Regina Leader-Post and its weekly QC publication, who died suddenly in his sleep on Dec. 19.
In November, Matte helped organize a Saskatchewan Media Guild seminar in Regina that was attended by members of the Times-Herald, Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Nobody could tell us the last time reporters from three of the province’s newspapers had gotten together to have drinks, let alone develop their professional skills.
It felt very important, and I thanked Matte repeatedly.
I hope his family is doing well under the circumstances.
In news, like in life, bad events never happen when we expect them.
Even before I made it to the office on Tuesday morning, reporter Nathan Liewicki was already driving towards a fire southwest of Moose Jaw at a grain elevator. He was told the fire was mainly just smouldering. Then he was told to vacate the premises.
That’s the business. We learn to adjust. Even if you’re chasing fires on Christmas Eve.
Only a few hours after that, Liewicki and reporter Justin Crann responded to a multi-vehicle collision just down the street from the Times-Herald office.
The intersection of Fairford Street West and First Avenue Northwest was closed, but no one was seriously injured. I hope the people involved are able to see it that way, but the frustration of being in an accident on Christmas Eve might be too overwhelming to be able to think “at least I’m alive.”
As I finish writing this, there are reports of an explosion at the Co-op refinery in Regina.
We live fast in a fast world. We seem to only reflect when things are either awful or perfect; never when we’re in between.
The end of December is a time when most people can afford to slow down. But if you can’t take time off during the holidays, maintain a balance.
Somebody will always try to tell you what the holidays are about. It’s about whatever you decide.
Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX