November 17, 2009 / 2009 Fall JEA/NSPA / Walsworth Live

People watching

Written by Jenna Geers

People watching is just the best. Especially when it’s more than 6,000 people brought together from so many different places, all for one purpose: journalism.

And let’s face it, journalists are the weirdos of the working world. All of their work must be at the same time unique, well-researched, and conforming to certain standards of that intimidating monster: Associated Press Style.

So, stick so many of said people into one convention hotel, and you get some great experiences. Cute blonde, curly-haired girls from Texas wedge in next to the rocker guy from Nevada—at a sports writing session. Two tall, athletic-looking guys have a debate that, upon more intent eavesdropping, turns out to be about the correct use of parentheses vs. brackets. Kids who cut sessions sprawl out on the floor pretty much anywhere they want, until the harassed-looking security guard (or a passing uptight adviser) yells at them.

You REALLY get to know your roommates at these things. That funny laid-back girl from your yearbook class can actually be the most effective seat-saver you’ve ever met, and you’ll have a new respect for her elbows and sneaky seat-snagging. But that same girl takes 45-minute showers and uses your shampoo. (Thanks, Renee.)

And then, there’s the friends that you make, hang out with, and never see again. I had a potential best friend in this sandy-haired guy I met while waiting for a session I ended up not getting into because it was packed to the brim. Then, I headed to lunch and he headed for another session, and I never saw him again. Or the staffs you make friends with and then proceed to see at each and every convention ever. HI SHAWNEE MISSION NORTHWEST! These kinds of people are your MVPs at award ceremonies, because they’ll clap for you in case you actually win something and walk all the way up to the front.

So I say, go for it. You never know when the kid you meet will give you a box full of matches that you can play with on the street outside the fancy restaurant you’re going to for dinner—er, I mean, that you can use to survive, should Washington, D.C. ever be caught in a freak snowstorm with you trapped by a pile of wood, a water source, and a month’s supply of food with a great shelf life. Or when you will need some extra applause when Best of Show awards come around.

Take pictures. Make memories. Make friends. But don’t get too attached, unless you’re fond of Facebooking. 🙂

Jenna Geers