The Slice

My Thanksgiving in jail

When city editor Jon Kamman asked if I had any Thanksgiving plans, I tried to act like I didn't see what was coming.

But I knew. He realized I had no family in Arizona. And he was about to invite me to his house for the holiday, which was just a couple of days away. What a guy. Wasn't that thoughtful?

No, I said. No plans.

Good, he said. "We need someone to work Thanksgiving."

Oh.

This was about 30 years ago. But the memory still makes me shake my head.

When you are in your 20's, there's a tendency to think you know everything. There is also a tendency to be wrong.

I was a newsside general-assignment reporter at the morning paper in Tucson. I hadn't been there long, and working a holiday was not really unusual -- especially for someone with zero seniority. But the extent to which I misread the city editor in that moment amuses me still.

And Kamman -- a fine editor and decent, honest man -- had an assignment for me. He thought I should join the prisoners for Thanksgiving dinner at the Pima County Jail. So that's what I did.

I don't remember much about it. Except that virtually all of the prisoners I spoke to confided that they were innocent of the charges against him. Totally innnocent. What are the odds?

Maybe some of them knew the city editor and had heard that I was easily duped.




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