No news is good news

“How’s the air in the newsroom today?” he asked when he passed me at the water fountain, him carrying a ladder and me filling the bright green bottle that lives on my desk.

“I haven’t noticed, so good I guess,” I answered, and he laughed and I felt bad.

It’s a constant battle, keeping the air temperature reasonable in the newsroom. Mostly they freeze us out; we all keep jackets and sweatshirts at our desks, take breaks to stand in the summer sun to thaw out. I mostly don’t wear my summer skirts, it’s just too cold inside.

Then other days we’re sweating, heat sinking into our core, until tempers are short and coffee is forgotten and we fan our flushed faces with scrap paper, complain about going from one extreme to another.

Today I’m not roasting, and I’m not bundled up against the chill. And so I hadn’t noticed.

He tells me they hadn’t heard from us today, back in the maintenance office, so they figured it was good.

“People don’t come back unless there’s a problem,” he said.

“No news is good news,” I echo, as he goes right and I go left.

But I’m thinking how strange it is. Mostly, the only people who call me are those who have a problem or have something they want me to write. If there’s a message light blinking on my phone, chances are it’s not to tell me that nothing’s happening, we’re all getting along just fine (though in some places, that would be a story in itself!). It’s something I know, something we laugh about.

You don’t hear from people until they need something. Until there’s a problem.

And then? I realize I haven’t even noticed that I’m not cold today.

No news is good news, I told him, which is a strange thing from someone whose profession IS news.

But that, I guess, is how it works. Most of the time we don’t notice things that are running along smoothly, just like they should.

We just notice when there’s a problem.


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