Keep smiling

It hasn’t all been angst and ardor at Mountain Xpress. Over the last decade, we here in the trenches have also shared more than a few laughs — both at ourselves and at the world around us.

Reporter Lisa Watters still smiles about the time she interviewed a very bright but frightfully deaf centenarian. Lisa was yelling louder and louder into the phone while her co-workers, unaware of the circumstances, were cracking up and making fun of a reporter who was desperately trying to listen, take notes — and avoid cracking up herself.

Reporter Brian Sarzynski, who worked his way up the ladder at Xpress, remembers covering an Asheville City Council retreat in Tryon a few years back. During a break, Brian and Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Melissa Williams walked to a nearby restaurant, where several people in a row spotted Brian and offered some variation on “Hey, you’re the Xpress guy!” Melissa was duly impressed by her fellow scribe’s surprisingly high profile in that little town until Brian eventually confessed, “I used to deliver the paper in Tryon when I was a route driver.”

Then there are the payoffs.

“I’ve been bribed for A&E stories by artists of various genres bearing gifts of brownies, pizza, lasagna, fresh fruit and expensive aromatherapy candles, as well as offers of money” reports Arts & Entertainment Editor Melanie McGee. “None of the bribes ‘worked,’ though I did eat the brownies.”

Senior editor Peter Gregutt, meanwhile, recalls the time when reporter (and later A&E editor) Danielle Truscott was burning the midnight oil and accidentally locked her keys in the bathroom. This left her stuck in the hallway, locked out of all of the offices and unable to exit the building. After periodic heroic attempts, she finally managed to attract the attention of a late-night passerby on Wall Street, who agreed to call Danielle’s boyfriend (this was pre-cell phones).

The boyfriend, says Peter, “began calling me at home — but it was 2 a.m., and I just rolled over and buried my head under the pillow. After numerous rounds of this, he actually drove to my house and pounded on the door till he roused me, got the key, and sprang Danielle. So much for the Protestant work ethic!”

And speaking of work, Retail Advertising Manager James Fisher recalls a job interview with an enthusiastic woman who seemed particularly eager to join the Xpress staff. “Well, do I get the job?” she asked breathlessly as the interview ended.

“We’re interviewing a number of people,” James replied. “But if you get the job, can you start next Monday?”

After checking her day planner, the woman announced: “No, that’s impossible. Mercury is retrograde, and I never start anything new then.”

Hey, this is Asheville — and that’s life at Xpress.

About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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