I am the type of person who will: ask if you want a sip of my drink even when there is one straw; comfortably disclose my state of well-being, or ill-being, to anyone at any given time; and generally be solid during social interaction with strangers or pals, even enemies.
For the most part, I can say the same for Brian Mann. This is not something I knew, as the first time I met Brian was when I got behind the wheel of his wife’s Honda to travel to Lac-Megantic, Quebec. For the next five days we covered the one year anniversary of an oil-train explosion.
Brian is an experienced reporter in so many ways, especially in situations where major trauma has been inflicted on a community or environment. This was my first time being in a place that had been stricken by disaster. It was comforting to be with Brian, someone who can understand and empathize with tragedy, but remain an outsider looking in. I watched and began to understand this process; how his every move in the field led him to creating the best possible story.
Together we faced all the true tests of companionship: apocalyptic weather, illness, sharing a bathroom, sleep deprivation, famine—I wasn’t presented with food until 4pm on the second day— and separation from loved ones.
I’ve never developed this kind of companionship in so little time.
We were both honest with each other about experiences, the ugly ones and the beautiful ones. He talked about travel and I talked about being vulnerable. We both had so many things to share, and we created a balance of give and take.
The things I learned about Brian and myself are personal treasures that I’ll always remember, and I know he’ll do the same. Maybe the most important thing I learned from the so talented veteran of journalism is this:
Go out and make things.
There is nothing stopping you at any given time from making something: whether it is using your body to dance, your hands to sculpt, or your voice to sing. You can create things. Whatever your passion is, there is a huge chance you don’t need a title or paycheck to continue creating something. For me, this means there will always be stories to tell and people to learn about.
I feel so fortunate to have spent my first time reporting in the field watching Brian Mann do his thing. My official title as production assistant meant I was chauffeuring, keeping an eye on the clock, and being Brian’s number one cheerleader before each story deadline. If you want to keep him happy all you need to do is never burp, have coffee ready in the morning, and not drive too crazy because he is the most easily car sickened human-being I know.
As for you Brian, yes, I will give you a job when you’re old and potentially dated if I end up “making” it in the journalism world. Ah yes, this is where I will casually thank you for being the exact mentor I need at this point in my life.
After working with you, I know if I wake up a bit earlier than everyone else who is doing the same job as me and produce something people want, I can do this. This is all public record, so you know how serious I am.
Decided just now by me, I proudly reserve the right as the only person who can call you Bri—also public record.
Next time we hear Bri Mann, let’s remember how talented he and all the NCPR staff are at what they do. I’ve learned it is something to be truly respected.