The Lesson I Learned After a Year of Being a Dating Reporter
Today marks my one year anniversary as The New York Post dating reporter in charge of their weekly blind date column, Meet Market. On occasions such as this one, people often say the year went by so fast. But the past year for me has been the exact opposite.
I love my job, but it’s challenging, exhausting, and stressful in its own unique way. I am fortunate enough to have a specific duty when I report to work, and it never changes. My job is to get people, set them up on dates, and report on what happened on those dates. Then, with the help of my editors, photographers, and designers, we create the two pages people readers see every Sunday.
On the surface, it all seems so simple, but there have been weeks where it is the most difficult thing I’ve had to do because this job has less to do with the words I wrote and more to do with people.
When I interviewed for the position, I of course touted my resume. Over 90 percent of the people who have come in to take their photo in order to participate ask me how I managed to get my job. The first thing I tell them is, I went to school for journalism. I know that may seem pompous, and I indeed give them more details, but I begin my answer with that statement for two reasons: 1) I’m still paying for my Howard University education. 2) I am indeed a journalist; obviously not of the Bob Woodward variety, but still, resume don’t lie and it’s important people know that.
But more important than all the education and experience I acquired before I started at the New York Post, is the social skills I’ve needed to rely on in order to make it this far.
I am a good writer, but that is not why I’ve been able to keep this job. I care about every single person who signs up to participate in Meet Market. I worry about them on their date, and hope they have a good time. There are no success stories to share in the sense that no two people have fallen in love from a date I set them up on, but when I send out instructions to my daters I am secretly praying they will get back to me and say they found the love of their life. Only time would tell whether or not that is actually true, but if I put them in a position to feel something for someone new, I have fulfilled what I believe is part of my purpose.
Of course, another part of my purpose is to turn my damn section in on time, to get things right and to make sure all the elements are ready to go by my deadline. Also, I take everyone and anyone who is over 21, lives in the NYC area, and is single, which means I have a disproportionate number of people who have signed up. Unfortunately, that means I can’t set everyone out, but I don’t think anyone feels a major letdown at least I hope not.
The fact is, I too have a bottom line I must get to, and though I don’t use people to meet this bottom line, I definitely need them. On this job, I have learned I am not above begging and no one knows thirsty quite like I know thirsty. I used to think hard was getting a girl to say yes to a date WITH ME. As it turns out, it’s even harder for me to get people to go out on a date FOR ME.
But, people are good. That is the one thing I have learned above all else. When people reach out to say they want to participate in Meet Market here is what they have to do.
1) Fill out a 50-question questionnaire.
2) Come to the office building where I work, sometime between the hours of 11:30 AM – 6:30 PM, Monday through Friday, to take a picture.
3) Sign a release form that says it’s okay for us to put the picture in the paper (solely for the purposes of Meet Market).
That is only to sign up. If they actually get chosen to participate, here’s what else they have to do.
1) Go out on the actual date with someone they’ve never met.
2) Get photographed with their date, who they may or may not like.
3) Fill out a much shorter questionnaire to tell me all about the date, which will run in the paper alongside their date photo.
The first three steps are where I lose most people. Maybe they never end up filling out the questionnaire. Maybe they do but never come in for the picture. I can deal with that.
It’s the second set of steps where I truly come away impressed with people. I have flaked out on many dates. I think we all have. I don’t have a problem with being photographed, but when people are concerned about their picture in the paper, I can kind of understand (though I always tell folks they probably have plenty of photos of themselves out there already if they search their name in Google images.) Then, people give me their feedback about the date pretty immediately.
Much to my surprise, most people I have worked with do all of this with no complaints.
Originally when I started writing this post, I was going to write a list of lessons I have learned from my one year of being a dating reporter for The New York Post. Obviously I’ve abandoned that idea because I realize there is really one lesson worth sharing with everyone, and it’s a lesson I have learned week in and week out for the past year.
People are good.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped me out. The past has been cool, the present feels good, and the future is bright.
For a recently updated list of all the places where I’ve sent my dates, in case any of you are looking for date spots or ideas of your own, click here.
An annotated guide to my 50-question questionnaire can be found by clicking here.
A lot of people still ask me, what’s up with Dan? Well, I’m still trying to get him a date. If you’re unfamiliar with Dan and his story, go here.
As I said, I am always, always looking for people to participate in Meet Market. If you fit the criteria and you’re interested, press here and let me know!
And just because, as you’re getting ready for a date, this is a good song to play.