“Be prepared” — A good idea!

I was reminded the other day why it’s important for a journalist to always be prepared.

As we were on morning deadline, one of my editors asked if I could run over to the courthouse to get charging documents on a murder suspect. Before I ran out the door, he asked: “Do you have cash?”

It’s a good thing he asked, because I had only a few coins on me. And the courthouse is one of the few places that is cash or check only — no check cards or credit cards.

I ended up having to borrow a $10 bill from the managing editor! How embarrassing.

When I was a cub reporter at the Maryland Gazette, I used to keep a $20 bill stashed in my desk in case I had to run up to the courthouse to get documents, meet a source unexpectedly for coffee or something like that.

(Note that we are reimbursed for these expenses, but we pay for it first out-of-pocket and get a check later.)

At The Capital, the main needs for cash are driving over the Bay Bridge or paying for parking.

Well, I’ve found a good street for parking free downtown and I haven’t gone over the bridge unexpectedly for awhile. And my bank has a branch downtown, so I can get parking cash pretty quickly. So I let carrying cash slip my mind.

Now with the courthouse lesson, I’ll again be vigilant to keep at least a few bucks in my wallet or desk. Let’s hope the lesson sticks for awhile.

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