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This is what I do, son March 20, 2010

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.
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“Come up here if you want to see your dad on TV,” I called down to the basement.

It’s pretty infrequent that I need to appear in front of television cameras to represent RIT as the university’s spokesperson, but this had been one of those rare days. I thought Austin might get a kick out of seeing me in action. As is always the case in these situations, I was sitting there praying I would sound halfway intelligent.

I could hear him rumbling up the stairs just as the WROC-TV news anchors were introducing the story. I had already explained to Austin a little bit about what had happened that day—why I needed to bolt from the house shortly past 1:30 a.m. and get to campus. Concerns over a potential gunman had prompted a campuswide alert.

I immediately felt a sense of relief the moment I first appeared in the story. “Oh, my God, I look great!” I said.

Austin, already smiling at the sight of me on TV, appropriately rolled his eyes in response to my comment. Admittedly, I wasn’t being completely facetious. The Channel 8 interview happened at midday, well after having the time to return home to shower and groom. Earlier in the day, I appeared in a hooded sweatshirt and obvious ‘bed head,’ as evidenced in the 13WHAM-TV report.

Having Austin watch the story was another opportunity to further introduce him to my world. My job is a significant part of my existence, and it represents a large part of who I am.

During his first visit with me in December, I brought him to my office and introduced him to my coworkers. Over time, I would point out some of what we do on our department’s Web site and I’ve showed him our publications, which he would politely thumbed through. But I can understand a 16-year-old’s difficulty in finding the patience to force an understanding of public relations.

This, I thought, was a little different. This was me ‘doing.’ That’s how it had been for me as a kid. Growing up next door to the family collision business, I constantly got to see my father in action—fixing cars and interacting with customers. I even accompanied him occasionally on tow jobs, which remain among my fondest childhood memories.

“Good job,” Austin said, still smiling, as the story reached its end. He promptly turned around and bounded back downstairs to return attention to his life’s priority—Call of Duty.

The next day, I was kind of curious to find out whether seeing the news story had made an impact. Returning home, I asked Austin, “Did you brag to your friends about seeing me on TV?”

“No,” sounding inconvenienced to even bother answering such a stupid question.

Obviously having a teenager in the house will go a long way toward keeping my ego firmly in check.

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