“Push” as a newspaper article

Here’s a fun exercise: take an essay you’ve written and turn it into a newspaper article to explore the difference between creative nonfiction and journalistic writing. I chose “Push”.

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Agra, INDIA (AP) — A 43 year old American woman visiting the Taj Mahal had a physical altercation with an Indian vendor after he accosted her traveling companion. Melinda Baumann of Charlottesville, Virginia, was visiting the popular tourist destination with her partner of 15 years, Marjorie Garmey, when the incident occurred. Witnesses say Baumann used both hands to shove the teenage vendor, of no known address, off balance. The incident then ended without escalating further.

At issue was the purchase of a beaded necklace. On her way into the temple Garmey had promised the young man that she would consider purchasing his jewelry after visiting the historic site. When she exited the temple an hour later, the young man was waiting for her. But Garmey and Baumann refused to stop.

“At first I felt sorry for him because he has to work so hard for so little,” Baumann explained. “And I even admired his tenacity, standing outside in this heat for an hour waiting for us. But he got really aggressive, wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, circling Margie as she tried to walk to the bus, and pulled on her arm.”

Baumann described what happened next. “When he jumped in front of Margie to block her way, I felt he was threatening her. I didn’t know what he would do next. I got so angry I pushed him back hard.”

The vendor was not hurt. “I wasn’t too surprised when she pushed me. It happens to me all the time with these Westerners. But the lady looked very shocked.”

“I just couldn’t believe I did that,” Baumann said. “I’m not an aggressive or violent person. In fact, I’ve never laid hands on another person in anger. What kind of person have I become?”

Garmey provided some insight: “I was very surprised when Melinda pushed the guy, but she was just trying to protect me. We’d had a kind of challenging day, what with seeing such extreme poverty and starvation, deformed children begging alongside our bus, and so much garbage lining the streets.”

The vendor will not press charges.

The beginning

My hometown is known for having more bars per square mile than any other in the country. This was not why we moved there. My father got a job as an architect with a company that made modular buildings, so we landed in Oswego, New York in 1969, just before I turned 5. After the company went out of business a few years later, Dad opened a one-man architectural firm in a converted room in the front of our three-story house on the east side of town. The street-level sign, “Carl Baumann, Architect”, had a red arrow pointing up the cement stairs to the front door.