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Through my eyes: Tales of the ordinary

One of the main reasons I decided to get into journalism is I wanted to meet and talk to people I otherwise would never get to meet.

Sometimes those people are celebrities, such as Peyton Manning or Tommy Lasorda or Ichiro Suzuki, the biggest star in Japan.

Interviewing big names could be fun, as long as they have interesting stories to tell. But what I found working in a newsroom at the Daily Press is I enjoy exploring the lives of regular people just as much — listening to their everyday stories, especially when they open up and share their feelings of happiness and sadness and their struggles and successes.

The most memorable interview I’ve done is still one I did with a local mother whose teenage son was shot to death at a party.

I spent about six hours at the family’s house. She said she lived and slept in her dead son’s bedroom. She called his phone several times a day just to listen to his voice mail greeting.

She was crying almost throughout the whole interview. But she smiled, with tears still in her eyes, when she talked about his achievements and how his friends still talked about him. I cried with her and called my mother that day.

I interviewed a man who was stuck in the revolving door of criminal justice system. It started as a small chat in a courthouse hallway as he was waiting for his mental health court hearing.

He was suffering from bipolar depression but wasn’t able to get proper treatment because his father was in denial. So he turned to meth instead.

He proudly talked about how far he had come since he enrolled in a treatment program, though he said he still got off track once in a while. I still check on his progress when I run into him. His genuine smile makes me want to hope.

I talked to a man last week whose house is underwater, just like more than 60 percent of homeowners in the High Desert.

He got a 30-percent pay cut. He began carpooling to work and rarely goes out to eat so that he can save enough gas money to drive his sons to baseball practice.

I’ve interviewed commuters who get up before dawn to carpool to work down the hill and come back up late at night so that they can feed their families. Their stories inspire me. They make me want to promise to my newly married wife that I will care about my family as much as they do.

I learn from their stories as much as I do from spotless success tales of celebrities.

My goal is to tell stories about lives of ordinary and famous people as they are, without adding big adjectives to exaggerate their accomplishments or prompt readers to feel sorry about their mistakes.

I see my job as an act to understand them. And I hope others do the same when they read my stories.

“Through My Eyes” is a column by Daily Press Reporter Tomoya Shimura sharing his thoughts and experiences living in the High Desert. He may be reached at TShimura@VVDailyPress.com or facebook.com/ShimuraTomoya.

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