I work the fourth Saturday of every month. That means I cover the Polar Plunge each year as well. I never know a good time to get there. The event always starts at 11 a.m., but you want to get there and interview some people ahead of time, take some photographs for the photo gallery of set up and the crowd. Some years I get there at the right time. Some years, like this year, I was early.
Fortunately, my partner in crime, Reporter Charissa Bryce, was coming with me to do video. I would write the story and take photos. In the past, I’ve had to do all three.
Naturally, we had some time to goof off. This is how a reporter spends their time when they can’t leave an event, but are slightly bored.
After interviewing a group of people, the Island Beauties, taking some photos and shooting some video, we didn’t have much else to do until the Polar Plunge began. So, we entertained ourselves.
65 people jumped into the icy North Platte River at this year’s Polar Plunge. They do this to raise money – more than $14,000 this year – for Special Olympics Nebraska. I took some awesome pictures and wrote a story for the Star-Herald.
I was introduced to Ray Richards a few years back at some event in town. Ray seems to be the emcee at all the events I cover. So, when I saw him at the Polar Plunge in 2015, I thought I would interview him as part of my story for the Star-Herald. But I couldn’t remember his name. I am terrible at remembering names.
I did the interview and then went to my old standby, “Can you spell your name for me so I can make sure it’s right in the paper.” This works great because so many people have different spellings of common names or have a difficult last name to spell. I don’t have to admit I’m stupid and forgot your name and we actually do get the right spelling of your name. So, he gladly obligied.
“R-a-y,” he spelled.
“Shit,” I said to myself. “I hope his last name is really hard to spell.”
“Fuck,” I thought. “Now he knows I’m stupid.”
Ray was very gracious. However, ever since then, he will randomly come up to me, offer to shake my hand, and say, “I don’t believe we’ve met. My name is Ray Richards.”
Sometimes, he will be laughing too hard and can’t get his name out. Yes, I’m a dumbass. But I never forgot Ray’s name ever again.
Then, it was back to the newspaper to write the story, sort the photographs, and edit the video. At least this year I had someone with me to keep me company and make the day a lot of fun.