Walking on the Ledge
Chuck gets Chucked
This is another excerpt from my reporter’s notebook concerning the day Charles Carlsen voluntarily retired from JCCC amid allegations of unlawful harassment.
It happened at one of the board’s emergency meetings. I lost count of how many it had during that time. I didn’t go to it because I had to work in the library.
I don’t remember learning that Chuck resigned … er … retired until the next day. Yet, my log contradicts what I’ve thought of as the way I learned about it.
So let me tell you how I remember it and then you can read my log.
I remember being exhausted. With only 2-3 hours of sleep a night, I’d been a zombie since The Ledger published my story seven days earlier (April 13).
It was a Friday (April 21, 2006) and I didn’t have class that day or maybe I blew it off for some sleep. I don’t recall. I just remember I was so excited because I planned on sleeping for about 12 hours — no joke.
I awoke at the crack of noon when one of my sources called.
Honestly, the only reason I answered the phone was out of habit. During the investigation, I’d assigned my sources a special ringtone. Upon hearing it, I’d either answer or I check my email — even if I was half asleep.
In an excited voice, my source asked me if I’d heard the news about Carlsen. Well, of course, I had. Chuck announced he was taking a leave of absence the day after my story came out. Puh-lease, that news was sooo six days ago!
My source quietly said something like, “He’s gone.” At which point I thought, “Oh. My. God. He’s dead. I killed him. I killed Chuck Carlsen.” Then my source said something like, “He resigned last night at the board meeting. He’s gone!”
“How could you not know? You’re the reporter!”
It was like I couldn’t understand the language my source was speaking. I heard words but I didn’t know what they meant. I’m sure it only took a few nanoseconds for my brain to wake up and process what I was hearing but it seemed so much longer.
I met the source for lunch and we talked a long time about what happened and what was ahead. That’s when writing a book about this experience first entered my mind …
So that’s how I remember it happening. My interpretation of the entry below is that it seems as if I wrote it at work after the posting was delivered to JCCC’s listserv, Infolist.
So why the two versions? Maybe when wrote the entry, I got the date wrong and it was actually April 21 not April 20. I was very tired during that time and could have made that mistake. On the other hand, I was very diligent about noting the correct time/date for my entries as I thought I’d have to use them if I ever went to court. I don’t know. I’m confident that the version in my mind is the correct one because I have a source who can verify my … well … my cluelessness about Chuck resigning.
Again, this edited version is not an attempt to reframe history but rather an attempt to continue honoring a promise to my sources. Continue reading