The Help  of a Tired Face

He was there for me every morning—Jerry Revish, with his tired face. At 5:00 A.M., when he signed on to anchor the morning news, I’d be already on the treadmill, gritting my teeth and thinking about how time slows down as speed picks up.

Though the treadmill was good for my health, I hated it. And no wonder. It was originally designed to punish inmates. On the first treadmills, inmates in British prisons stepped off their paces for ten hours a day in the summer and seven in the winter, turning wheels that pumped water and powered mills. This mind-numbing, body-breaking repetition was meant to teach a lesson, to rehabilitate, to prove that prison isn’t a good place to get free food, just in case someone was hankering after prison rations.

Unlike these inmates, I chose the pain of the treadmill.

Still, I didn’t want the company of a fresh-faced, day-brightener while I kept rhythm with the belt under my feet. I wanted someone of my own kind—someone like Jerry with hanging-low eyelids and droopy-mouth corners, someone with a lack of sleep visible on the face.

“My alarm rang before yours,” his face said every morning. “And I’m already at work. If I can do this, you can go wrangle a couple hundred middle school kids today.”

And I believed him. He had done it yesterday, he was doing it today, and he’d do it again tomorrow. He was doing it tired. But he was alert and skilled, it being no accident that he was an award-winning reporter.

And he was kind.

“Comfort the afflicted,” he liked to say, and he did.

His investigations helped exonerate a woman who had been wrongfully convicted of killing a baby. His reporting resulted in DNA testing for a man who had been unjustly imprisoned. And, away from the newsroom, he worked to establish a high-school journalism program for minority students.

Jerry Revish was known as a nice guy in a tough business.

And that became my goal each morning—to be a nice in the tough business of teaching, no matter that my face sagged.

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