Zak of All Trades: The good news first, or the bad?
We've likely all heard the question, and many of us dread it: "Which would you like to hear first — the good news or the bad news?"
Depending on our personality types, so many of us who are quite alike would answer this question differently.
For some, hearing the good news first puts them in a better state of mind to hear the bad news. I call these individuals "a little bit crazy."
As for me, my answer has always — without hesitation — been "give me the bad news first." That way, when the good news came, I would know that the worst of it had already come.
It wasn't just in hearing news that this came about, either. It started at a very young age that I realized whatever I ate last would leave a certain taste lingering on my taste buds.
So, with that in mind, I started eating in a very particular manner — sometimes even to the point that it became an oddity.
No matter what I was eating, I would always eat my least favorite thing first. If my plate was loaded with meat, potatoes and veggies, I would eat the dinner in the reverse order of that, as veggies were my least favorite item, and meat met my carnivorous taste the best.
That wasn't so abnormal. I think a lot of people eat that way.
But eating a piece of pizza in public drew strange looks from friends and strangers alike, as I would peel all of the cheese off the crust and eat the doughy part first.
I liked dough, and I liked the entire ensemble of dough, sauce, cheese and toppings. But my favorite part by far was the cheese and toppings blend that could be scraped off.
So, I took the bad news first and then devoured the good news. It's just how I've always been wired.
In a more ideal world, though, the good and bad news dilemma is much more similar to my pizza eating than my veggie eating.
When it came to the pizza, there really wasn't any bad news, really.
There was just news that I didn't like quite as much as I liked the good news.
I still liked pizza crust, so I was eating the lesser of two evils first, but still enjoying it.
Vegetables, on the other hand, were not a delicacy that I enjoyed at the time. I forced down the green beans or the carrots — both of which I've acquired a taste for in my older age — first so that I could enjoy the rest of my meal without any more distasteful distractions.
Vegetables were the bad news, and they left a bad taste in my mouth.
Luckily, the good news of the steak and potatoes came along to wash away the bad news — or at least to distract me from its lingering flavor by overpowering it.
And so it is — I've related good and bad news to food. You really can make a metaphor out of anything, I suppose.
Ultimately, though — and I don't think that I'm alone on this one — when someone asks me the question "Which do you want first?" I almost always want to give them a third alternative response. I always want to tell them, "Just the good news, please."
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. I've learned that especially over the past few years working in the news industry. There is bound to be bad news.
I hope and pray against it every day for the sake of this community in which I was born and raised. But despite those fervent hopes and prayers, we still receive the occasional fax or scanner transmission bringing the bad news to our front page — fatal traffic accidents, fires, drug busts, etc.
But I'm still a firm believer in the fact that despite the hype that seems to be highlighted through the bad news, there's still a whole lot more good news out there than bad.
If you don't believe me, I'd encourage you to look back over a few front pages from this past week. The week saw some terrible things — a stabbing, a motorcycle accident — and the police reports will show you a few more.
But all-in-all, the news we've been putting out lately has been more positive and upbeat — from the PAHS Variety Show's opening performance to the American Legion's essay winners.
Some of the stories we get to cover even go about taking something tragic — bad news — and turning it into something bigger and better — good news.
For example, a young boy with a heart condition is very bad news in my opinion.
But the way a community can rally around him to help bring hope — and receive some hope from and through him and his story — is undoubtedly good news.
It's so easy to get caught up in the mentality that there's no such thing as good news anymore. When we're posed with the question, we feel hopeless, fearing that no matter how we answer we won't be satisfied.
But if we're careful and intentional about it, we get to see the rays of light — the good news — shining through into the bad news.
We'd love to hear only good news, and as the editor of the newspaper, I'd love to report only good news. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen that way.
But that doesn't mean that we have to fall for the trick that there's no good news left, either. As long as folks keep striving for excellence, being themselves and loving their neighbors, there's always going to be good news. And that good news is something we can cling to.
Zak Lantz is the editor of The Spirit and is hoping that the news you get this week is all good news.