Would I stoop to being tricky?
This did get me to thinking of a clever ploy that made my life as a newspaper reporter much easier. It involved being told to do a story on some subject I found extremely boring. Invariably this meant something to do with facts and figures in one of the offices at the courthouse.
What I would do is go to the office in question - treasurer, auditor, assessor or whatever - and head straight for the best-looking female employee. This was important because the better they looked, the more accustomed they were to being approached by men.
I would ask her to get me the needed books, then fumble around for a minute or two, shaking my head and looking confused. Without fail she would take my list and say, "Here, let me do it." More often than not I would be told to come back in an hour so that meant going to the nearest place where the coffee was good, or better yet, free. When I returned, everything would be ready for me so heading back to the newsroom and writing the story was a snap.
Only once did this tactic come under suspicion. The next day after the story was in print a woman who had been helpful scowled at me and said, "You're not as dumb as you look."
However, this is shaky ground for me. I met Jackie at an office where she worked in a courthouse. After catching onto my routine I'm not sure she took it as a compliment when I first approached her. My "best-looking woman" explanation has never seemed convincing, at least in her opinion, because only two of them worked in the election office.
That meant pulling out all the stops. "You know I was sincere about you being the easiest on the eyes because you were the Republican representative and Democrats are usually more helpful."
I think that did the trick.