Flustered reporter says;br;stop with the praise already

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2000

Obviously, Steve Arens has too much time on his hands.

Thursday, April 20, 2000

Obviously, Steve Arens has too much time on his hands.

Email newsletter signup

Maybe his lovely wife Penny altered the dosage of his medication.

Perhaps he spent too much time standing in the sunshine of the front window of Arens Heating and Cooling.

Whatever it is, Steve thinks he’s a writer.

Worse yet, he shows signs of having a sense of humor.

The other night, when he should have been assembling those furnaces he imports from Taiwan, he sent me a fax.

In it, Steve likened me to television detective Columbo.

Imagine that.

Here’s a sampling:

"Why is it that whenever I see Lee Bonorden I’m reminded of Columbo?

He doesn’t smoke a stubby cigar. He smokes a pipe.

He doesn’t wear a wrinkled trench coat, but I think I saw him in a raincoat once.

He doesn’t have a crooked wandering eye, but his glasses are crooked sometimes.

He shows up, when you least expect him.

He’s always follows a hunch or a lead.

He has a way of putting you on the spot and getting a confession.

He’s persistent and keeps coming back.

He’s good at playing naive.

I’ve always had a picture in the back of my mind that Lee’s car looks like Columbo’s.

I sure had him pegged wrong. I saw him driving a shiny white Chrysler smokin’ that pipe.

Go figure.

Just when you think you have someone figured out they throw you a curve ball," wrote the semi-witty plumber.

Thank God that I am the Austin Daily Herald’s official fax policeman. One of my jobs is to distribute the faxes before they get into the newspaper.

That means throwing away anything from a politician. You wouldn’t believe the number of news releases we get from Rod Grams.

Fortunately, I was on patrol the night Steve felt inspired to write: he wanted it to be a letter to the editor of the Austin Daily Herald.

What is going on in that man’s mind?

Steve thought it might make an interesting letter to the editor.


The letters column is reserved for far more serious topics than a reporter winning a third-place award.

Sorry, Steve. No letter to the editor today.

Thanks for the compliment, but get back to work, take all your medication and stay out of the sun, pal.

And this goes for the rest of you.

People, the bouquets have to stop. Where are your brickbats?

No self-respecting reporter can stand getting praise. Cards, letters, phone calls, gifts and attaboys are the most dangerous alchemy for a reporter.

Positive reinforcement may work for others, but not for reporters.

It makes us suspicious and causes us to lose our edge. I mean, I was born to keep people waiting, ask embarrassing questions, write what they said instead of what they meant to say and be obnoxious.

When you start throwing compliments around, it causes problems.

Good grief! The other day I actually apologized to the Mower County sheriff for not writing something nasty about him in a long time.

Imagine that.

I saw the Mower County attorney’s wife in the grocery store and I actually said something nice about her husband.

Imagine that.

And, to top it off, I told the mayor of Austin I shouldn’t poke fun at her so often.

Imagine that.

And now that we have come to the end of this column, I’ve wasted 14 inches or so writing about myself for the third week in a row.

Enough already.

Save your praise and flattery for your preacher’s thought-provoking, but mercifully short sermon in church on Sunday morning.

The self-serving fluff ends here.

Coming next week: Lee Bonorden – The Early Years.

Lee Bonorden’s column appears Thursday