I was thinking the other day that I've been in quite a few houses over the past few years on the job. In some cases, it just makes sense to do a face-to-face interview for a story and I make house calls as my schedule allows.
Interviewing someone in their home can be a good way to get the information you need while they remain comfortable. Plus, it helps writers, like me, to create a picture in my mind of their life.
Through the five years I've been at the Times-Republican, I estimate I've been to more than 300 homes in the area. I'm pretty much Santa Claus with a camera and a notebook.
When I first arrive at someone's house I often get the same reaction.
"I had no idea how tall you are," they say.
I guess it's hard to convey my height in the one inch square column photo at the left. I try to calm them down and assure them I'm not some type of Frankenstein.
Every house I visit is a new adventure for me. I've had some homeowners offer me coffee, snacks and, on more than one occasion, I've been offered a beer.
I turn down the beer every time because I have to keep some measure of professionalism, plus I write sloppy enough without alcohol in my system.
I've conducted some home interviews with families and noticed I'm getting spied on by some shy little ones around the corner.
I've been sniffed by countless dogs and most have been friendly. There's also been plenty of times when I've visited an elderly person who is very happy to have company that day. In a way, I was glad to brighten their day.
I know my day was brightened when I got to meet several of our finest heroes when I did a series of stories on World War II veterans leading up to the Honor Flight. I was honored to be invited into their homes and learn their brave stories.
Then, there are other days when I've interviewed sick people in their home, and weeks later, I learn that they've passed away. That's not fun at all but I'm glad I was able to meet them and get what they wanted to say out to the public.
Through the years, I can't say one home interview is my favorite. With hundreds in the books, it's hard to recollect all of them.
And who knows when I'll show up at your door ready to tell your story.
If I do come by, feel free to keep the dogs - and the beer - locked away.
Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org