Since moving to Hermiston, I've met a lot of new people. Fortunately, I'm already pretty comfortable jumping in and introducing myself in situations where I don't know anyone. When you're a journalist, it comes with the territory.
Unfortunately there are certain tactics I use when I'm being a reporter that don't really work in real life. For example, when someone tells me their name, about 70 percent of the time I immediately forget it. When I've got my reporter hat on that's an easy fix: "Oh and before you go, let me make sure I get the correct spelling of your name..." This is harder to pass off if the person's name is something like Mary Jones, but generally anyone under 25 goes "Oh yeah my parents actually spell it Kaytee instead of Katie so it's a good thing you asked." Thank you parents for realizing that giving your child a name that they won't have to explain for the rest of their life is so five decades ago.
But when I'm someplace like church I haven't found a good reason yet to ask people how they spell their name. I also have to come up with legitimate topics of conversation instead of just asking a bunch of questions. Asking someone you just met how they manage to live on minimum wage or how they felt when their granddaughter was murdered becomes less socially acceptable when you don't have a notebook in hand. Fortunately it usually comes up right away that I moved to Hermiston to be a reporter and then that provides plenty of fodder for conversations ranging from "That sounds awesome. What's it like?" to "Let me tell you everything wrong with modern journalism today..." I never know when I tell someone what I do for a living if it's going to make them think I'm a lot cooler than I look or I'm a menace to society.
Of course, everyone back home wants to know if I'm meeting people in Hermiston. And by "people" they mean guys. Young, single, smart, attractive guys to be exact. Which, hey, I want as much as the next person, but I don't consider the day to be an utter waste if I also make a few female friends along the way (Remember, I covered this last year). Last week I went to a regional church dance in Pendleton and immediately hit it off with a girl from Walla Walla. At the end of the night we exchanged numbers so we could meet up at future activities, but more importantly so we could tell our parents we'd gotten someone's number at the dance when they inevitably asked. When you're a single Mormon twentysomething you learn these things.
But I am meeting people in Hermiston. Normal people and the wink wink nudge nudge kind. I play volleyball Tuesday nights with a great group of young single Mormons that includes plenty of players of the male persuasion. When I told my parents about volleyball they seemed to think this was a good opportunity for me to impress some guys. I'm not sure where they got the impression anything about my volleyball skills falls under the category of "impressive," but you've got to love parents and their undying belief that their children are good at things, all evidence to the contrary.
If I ever do manage to impress a guy with my volleyball skills, I'll make sure to get his number. After all, I'll need an excuse to ask him how to spell his name.