Red Car Conversations & Cafe Photoshoots

Yesterday was incredible. Sometimes, just sometimes, I love people.

I had been badgering the son of the woman who hosted us in Dublin, a deputy editor for a travel magazine, and after about a month of interrogation, I finally had the chance to sit down with him and interview him for The Podcast. Today, he flies to LA for two days for a photo shoot. And since he works for an airline company, I imagine him hamming it up with champagne and some classy dinnerware. Say hi to my parents for me?

I met him on the west side of Stephen’s Green, by the LUAS stop. I was talking with him over the phone trying to locate him, and he said “are you wearing an orange sweater?” “did you just look down to check which color it was?” I laughed, already feeling less nervous about the interview. I found him sitting in his red car, of which the passenger door handle was broken from the inside, and we got started.

He told me all about his professional history and career as a photographer, freelancer, restaurant reviewer, the list goes on. You can tell he’s the creative type, as I just asked him one question, and he rambled on for nearly fifteen minutes, going in all sorts of directions. He spoke similarly to me, but since he’s older, his passion and ferocity was more relaxed. While I could tell that I didn’t do a good job of keeping the interview focused, I didn’t mind so much, as I also enjoy letting people’s personalities come out, and see what kind of vibes and flavors they bring to the episode. Guess who needs to start editing!

He gave me so many ideas. One of the things he did prior to journalism was teach English as a second language in Barcelona for a few years. And while I have no interest in teaching, I realized he probably learned so much about English grammar and proper structure because of it. As a native speaker to any language, we take it for granted that we know how to write and speak properly, when in reality, it’s probably people that know English as a second language that speak it better than the natives! So now I want to be an English teacher, it’s a chill way to make money, have vacations, and challenges me in the moment, but also prepare me to become a better writer. Who would have thought!

We touched briefly upon social media, and journalism today. And like any seasoned journalist, he reminisced “times have really changed since I started in the field”. He’s not a fan of social media, and while I agree…there’s a part of me that could be optimistic…or at least opportunistic about it. Let me explain.

Rewind to a few hours before our red car conversation. I was at work. And at work, Paul and Jason were being interviewed by some Irish magazine for their social media following and cafe. I rolled my eyes, completely tired of the nonsense people give people just for being loud on social media. And Jason had a few very good points. He’s a waiter. He doesn’t understand why all these people want interviews and photo shoots with a waiter who also happens to be dating the son of the owner of the cafe. He talked about how there’s actual famous Irish actors nominated for Oscars, and they’re not getting pictured in these magazines. And I totally agree with him.

But the photo shoot, and these “journalists” made me think. They’re in my cafe, I could try to network. But at the same time, do I really want to be the journalist that sensationalizes the hospitality industry because they’ve got a decent business strategy? Plenty of businesses know how to be successful, and social media-ing isn’t novel anymore.

But then I thought again. You have to start somewhere, and if covering a personality the Irish public consider to be famous is what’s going to garner readership, then you do what you’ve got to do. Is my problem here with the so-called journalists? Or is my problem with the Irish public and making a big deal out of two funny guys that take too many selfies? Don’t get me wrong, I like Paul and Jason. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t work there. But I don’t think they’re extraordinary enough to plaster their faces everywhere.

Which leads me to what my car conversationalist told me. He advised that I shouldn’t take a story on unless I’m really interested in it. No matter what. And I also think he’s right. I know that with myself, I perform at my highest when my heart and my head are limitlessly driven to create something meaningful. And even though the backlash is losing out on experience, or maybe two euros for the publishing copyrights, it isn’t worth it to publish mediocre work.

We also talked about how life just kind of leads you through random jobs, and eventually, it’ll make sense and pan out. He told me that every job you do can help with whatever your end goal is. And I’m thinking he’s right about that too. Working at this cafe is making me think about the kind of journalism I’d want to be involved in, and also how social media is changing the world of journalism in return.

You never know how you’re going to get where you want to be. Maybe this waitressing gig is leading me somewhere cooler than “yeah I’m doing a gap year in Ireland”.


  1. Today Tom is a very successful in his field and he learned so much in every country and job he took on over his years. He learned English from teaching English in Vietnam and how to build a house from building a house in Ecuador. I love this piece of writing.


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