Hed Lines: Learning how to approach strangers and knock on doors, all in a day's work<BR>

Certain occupations require assertiveness and outgoing, at least on the surface, personalities: real estate, telemarketing, politics, most sales jobs, to name a few.

Add journalism to the list.

This is a good - or bad, depending on one's personality type - business in order to overcome one's shyness.

It requires the ability to approach strangers and knock on doors - and have doors slammed in one's face.

For instance, one Kingman attorney, who shall remain anonymous, has ignored me repeatedly whenever I asked him questions to his face and walked away.

The work is not for the timid.

Years ago, while I was a student intern at a suburban daily in Southern California, I received shock treatment as such when an editor assigned me to go to the scene of a shooting at a community college.

I was almost at a loss of what to do.

I do not recall the specifics of the crime because this took place more than 20 years ago, but I remember the assailant had taken his own life after fatally shooting others.

A group of students had gathered in a quad area.

One by one, I asked whether anyone had witnessed the shooting.

Finally, a young woman volunteered a description.

I gathered a quote, and headed back to the office.

I felt honored when United Press International used my quote in its version of the story.

Reporters at the Miner get a mini-shock treatment once a month when we do an assignment called "Our Readers Speak." Simply but erroneously called "man in the street," it involves getting comments on a topical issue from six Kingman residents and taking their photos.

I usually go to a parking lot at a shopping center to do the assignment because many people gather there.

I pigeonhole them when they head to the stores or return to their cars.

As in telemarketing sales, rejection comes with the territory of Our Readers Speak.

For every person who agrees to cooperate, I may find three or more who refuse or are in eligible because they live out of town - and sometimes out of the country.

Most people are pleasant, but many of them are rude as well.

"I'm busy," "not interested" or "I don't want my picture taken" are the usual excuses given.

In one bizarre episode, one elderly woman politely turned down my request.

After she was done with her shopping, she approached me and tried to convert me.

However, many members of the public agree to participate, and even have intelligent or provocative things to say.

They make up for the rude rejections.

I thank them for their sense of civic involvement.

The tables have gotten turned on me as well.

I have taken part in surveys of my own, both over the phone and in person.

However, because of the nature of my work, I tend to shun overtly political ones.

About a decade ago, a man approached me in a mall in Sacramento, Calif., displayed what appeared to be a movie poster and asked me what my impressions were of the film.

I volunteered vague comments, and indicated that he did not plan to see the movie based on my impressions.

One of his colleagues followed up the in-person survey with a phone call to me at home.

I thought I was going to participate in an in-store marketing survey during my recent week of vacation when an attractive woman approached me in a supermarket in La Quinta, Calif., with a ready smile and eye contact.

Wrong: She was a reporter for a nearby newspaper who was doing a reaction piece on a controversial proposed landfill.

I immediately blew my cover.

"Guess what?" " I said.

"We're in the same business." I handed her my business card as proof.

I was amused, and I am sure Marie was as well.

She mentioned she has some friends who live in Kingman.

I did not recognize their names.

Then I thought: Maybe I'll bump in to them while doing Our Readers Speak.