When I saw the news early Tuesday morning of the SEPTA strike in Philadelphia, I had a flashback to 11 years ago.
I was a cub reporter for The Temple News. I’d written two articles (poorly) for the paper so far, and then one of SEPTA’s unions decided to strike. It was a Monday. And my news editor asked me to go get reaction to the strike from Temple students stranded with no transportation.
So that’s just what I did. I spoke to several students waiting for emergency Temple shuttles that never seemed to arrive. And frustration was rampant.
I picked up my copy of TTN the following day to see my byline along with colleagues including Christopher Wink and Chris Vito (the Chrises nailed the SEPTA strike coverage). The articles won a Keystone Press Award that year, my first recognition for journalism.
Flash forward four years. I had graduated from Temple, but I was freelancing in the university’s creative services department as a proofreader and editor. And what happened? SEPTA’s union decided to strike again, also in early November.
I was a technically unemployed Temple alumnus by this point, so I had no duty to write for a news organization. But I had this blog, even back then. So I wrote about how my commute to work to Hunting Park was basically a disaster (in a mildly humorous way, if I might add).
Flash forward to this week. I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed at work and notice around 12:05 a.m. Tuesday that SEPTA’s union decided to strike again. On the 1st of November.
I sent a note to the senior producers, notifying them of this inconvenience in case it rose to national importance. Sure enough, it did. The last part of my shift at CBS This Morning early Tuesday morning was to write a 30-second story on the SEPTA strike. Once again, I was writing news about the SEPTA strike, but for a much larger audience. A colleague eventually took over the story to make minor edits and additions after I left.
(Note: That link is not my work, but that of the fantastic journalists at CBS News. My work never survived…)
I leave work around 2 a.m., well before the show airs. The first thing I do when I come into work the following day is look at the rundown of the previous show to see what survived and what did not.
Sadly, SEPTA did not survive. Interviews and stories went long, and there was no time to include the plight of the Philadelphia commuter in a national network news morning show.
But now you know that it almost did, and that I wrote about SEPTA once again. SEPTA strikes follow my career. And, for the first time, it doesn’t personally affect me.
Maybe the fourth time, it will.