Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Use This Only For Emergencies

When I traveled to Europe the summer after high school, my mom handed me a credit card right before I boarded the plane. She looked at me sternly and said, “Use this only for emergencies.” The next three weeks were filled with “emergencies.”

It was an emergency when I found the cutest jacket at EuroDisney. It was also an emergency when I was starving for a Belgian waffle on the streets of Belgium. The “emergencies” continued until I reached the $500 limit.

Sometimes, what we perceive to be an emergency is not always perceived as an emergency to someone else, especially my mom.  When I returned from my trip, I quickly learned after working a few months to pay off the credit card bill that my “emergencies” were not necessarily urgent or life-threatening.

In my mind, though, they were still emergencies.

A few years ago, when I began advising a college newspaper, I used the same line when handing out my cell phone number. “Use this only for emergencies,” I said to my students. Other faculty members thought that I was insane. But, they didn’t understand the urgency of reporting the news and I wanted to be accessible and a strong resource for my students when questions arose.

At first, the calls were minimal and justified – breaking news and personnel issues. However, through the years, the “emergencies” have changed. In fact, they are quite similar to my emergencies in Europe – they are often calls that make me happy and make me love my job more and more each day.

The last call I received was from a student who I have worked with for the past 2 ½ years. He is leaving us this semester and has already started interning at various media outlets in the St. Louis area.

At 12:40 a.m. Sunday morning, he called me. The first thing he said was “I’m so sorry that it is late, but I wanted to tell you that the Globe Democrat picked up my story on the homeless. It is online already, Shannon, and I’m so excited.” After jumping up and down and waking up the entire household, I told him how proud I was and offered my congratulations.

It may have been late, but it was a true “emergency” and I hope to get emergency phone calls like that for a long time.


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: May 17, 2010

© Shannon Philpott, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


May 17, 2010 - Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Reflecting, Teaching | , , , , , ,

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