Dawn Hankins

Pencil Shavings

Dawn Hankins is a staff writer for the Times-Gazette.


My ‘Wilson’ on a deserted island

Thursday, April 30, 2020

There are lessons to be learned while living and working as a journalist within a pandemic. One thing I have learned is that that there are some people who likely wouldn’t make good partners if ever stranded on a desert island.

Of course while I would choose to be with my family, you don’t always get that choice. So I thought a lot about the people I would and would not chose to become my “Wilson.” (From Tom Hanks’ movie “Cast Away.”)

One person I likely wouldn’t want to be solely surviving with is the guy on Facebook who refers to the Times-Gazette as the “local fish wrap.” He was upset this week because we didn’t “dig deeper” into the Tyson Food union issue. He said the Nashville news did.

Actually, the Times-Gazette has dedicated a lot of time and space the whole month of April to Tyson issues, including comments from the union. This guy and I probably wouldn’t have a lot of enlightening conversations I’m sure.

I wouldn’t want to be stranded with the guy who last Friday was beating his chest and professing it was his American right to be mask-free in a grocery store. “Forget social distancing, I have my rights!” he was yelling. We would likely wind up on opposite sides of the island. I don’t think American chivalry consists of subjecting innocent people to COVID-19, which is kin to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), if you can possibly help avoid it.

This brings me to thinking about our government officials and politicians. While some would be open enough to say “I think we’re lost,” another group would stand up and try to rationalize being stranded as no big deal. You know them; they’re the ones who start talking about raising property taxes as people die from COVID-19. As well, they’re really not the gather the firewood kind of folks, you see.

Then there are those people who would rob someone with COVID-19 blind while they were coughing all over them. Those are the people who you worry about when it gets dark at night on a lonely island.

I wouldn’t want to be stranded with those chief executive officers who’ve been more concerned with the bottom line rather than watching as the bottom falls out of its production lines from a deadly virus. Somehow the thought of being stranded on an island with these folks conjures up thoughts of “Donner, Party of 50!”

I believe there are some employers who deserve medals for furloughing their teams with pay. But there are those who still exist that would throw out a life preserver to you when you were drowning but inform you they’re only throwing it so far and its up to you to swim for the rest.

Oh, and don’t get me started about the folks who in the beginning of the pandemic hoarded all the hand sanitizer and then tried to sell it back after they were snatched. These are the people who would eat the last apple from under you on an island. You know this is true!

The people I would like to be stranded on a desert island with are those front line workers in the hospitals and grocery stores. Of course I would choose them for obvious reasons, but they are the ones who would die trying to rescue you from drowning. They’re the people who would remember they had two granola bars stuffed deep into their pockets and would take a knife or stick and make sure they were evenly divided when needed.

I would likely chose someone whose continued to visit their nursing home families-even if they do get to just say ‘hi’ from the window. They’re not forgetting the elderly. If you were to age on this island, I’m sure they would be there to hold your hand.

Of course I would love to be stranded on an island with a teacher. These are the folks who’ve cried at mere mention of being separated from their students. School staff, such as nutrition workers, put their own health at risk to make sure little ones had food. They are the ones who would refuse to eat the last apple. It’s referred to as laying one’s life down for the least of these.

I cannot forget the churches. While I wouldn’t want to be stranded with the senior pastor (that’s an inside joke) I would like to spend some time with those volunteers who’ve continued to feed the hungry everyday. Having been in ministry work myself, we would understand one another. I would hope for my Bible too.

I would love to spend more time with those young newlyweds who threw caution to the wind and married the loves of their lives during the pandemic. I would tell them that true love is wiping your spouses’ head when he or she’s sick. It’s about birth, life, death and a Godly love no one can separate. I would hope they’d have a child on the island, because they make the world so much more beautiful.

Well, I’m certainly not taking any trips, cruises or boat rides at the moment. So, I guess I really don’t have to worry about that island thing.

But what I do hope is that we’re all learning how to better understand and have compassion for one another. Let’s not just limit this to the here and now. There are still a lot of lessons to be learned from such things as how to treat employees to how to help the homeless during a pandemic.

Now, I’m sure there are people who would say they have no desire to be stranded on an island with a journalist. However, as official “essential workers,” we in the print media have seen the pain, hurt and fear that is associated with a pandemic. We’ve had history at our fingertips this last two months. Perhaps we really are the better types to share an island adventure with? We are great confidants.

One thing for sure is that journalists will be on the front lines until the end. In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “Better a good journalist than a poor assassin.”