Two reporters run into one another and after exchanging greetings, one says to the other: "these are crazy times and the past couple of days have been so hard, right?"
"Sure have been," the other reporter replies, then stops.
"Wait, which story are you talking about?"
A version of this conversation came in my regular morning email from Tom Jones, the senior media writer at the Poynter Insitute, the journalism think tank in Florida I had the fortune of attending for a week-long editors retreat many moons ago, thanks to a Jack Webster Foundation scholarship.
In the case of Jones, he meant the Breonna Taylor decision and violent protests across the United States in the wake of that decision but he admits he just as easily could have meant 200,000 dead Americans from COVID-19, the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or even President Donald Trump giving a wishy-washy response when asked if he will peacefully accept the results of the Nov. 3 election.
No difference here in Canada, in B.C. and even in Prince George right now.
My phone rang twice on Monday within an hour of John Horgan announcing the provincial election for Oct. 24. On the line were two passionate, engaged residents who had information to share about pressing local issues, neither of which had anything to do with the election.
In both cases, I listened for a minute, took some quick notes and then when they came up for air, I cut in.
"What you're telling me is really important and thanks for letting us know but the premier just called a provincial election for Oct. 24 so our focus is that today. Can I have a reporter call you tomorrow or later in the week to follow up?"
Neither person was aware the election had been called but completely understood that their vital information would have to take a back seat for a day or two.
Gerry Chidiac just sent me his column for next week about the Julian Assange trial, with a note in his email wondering why the Canadian media isn't making more of a big deal about this story.
I had no idea what he was talking about until I read his piece.
With the federal Throne Speech, two federal party leaders testing positive for COVID-19, the number of new cases surging across the country, an anti-racism rally in Red Deer that turned violent and so on (wait - what? John Turner died?) that I missed the latest on Assange (you too? Standby - I'll post Gerry's column on Tuesday).
Provincially, the election call was quickly competing for interest with Dr. Bonnie Henry's revelation that she has been the subject of harassment and death threats over the past six months, the continued overdose deaths and the concerns of parents, students and teachers with schools reopened.
It's much the same in Prince George, as the calls I received from the two local residents on Monday showed. There's so much happening that's important and directly affects the lives of area citizens.
Just this week alone, so much happening locally could mean anything from the surging number of bear encounters, the overdose deaths and the tragic death of a Nak'azdli elder near Fort St. James from COVID-19 to a child in a Fort St. James school testing positive, the ongoing downtown issues around the city's street population and the scramble of local NDP and Green supporters to name candidates to run against Mike Morris and Shirley Bond.
Now combine that with all of the individual stresses and challenges everyone is facing in their lives - worrying about money, job security, health, grandkids, grandparents, the oil leak in the car, the dryer not working (that last one is mine via text from my wife this morning, right on the heels of fixing a toilet and a leaky tire this week).
No wonder so many people are struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues at the moment. When all of the uncertainty and difficulties of our personal and professional lives are mirrored in our community, our country and our world, it's easy to get angry, to get frustrated, to lose hope.
There are no easy solutions (and beware those who promise such things or claim that they - and only they - can make things better, you just have to give them the power to do so). There are simply ways to cope with what's facing us, in our private lives and the world around us.
More on that next week.