A 90-year-old blind man is a big fan of Boston Globe science reporter Carolyn Johnson

People generally call newsrooms to complain or perhaps explain “a new theory of the origin of the universe,” says Boston Globe science reporter Carolyn Johnson. She recently got a different kind of call – one that she tells me turned out to be “an amazing ‘why journalism matters’ moment.”


* “No one has ever been so surprised or delighted to talk to me” (facebook.com)

For readers without Facebook accounts (I hear from them often), I’ve put her full post after the jump.

Warm feelings time. A few weeks ago, I got a call from a reader. Usually, when readers call you up out of the blue, it is for one of two reasons: 1) they want to rant at you about something or 2) they have their own explanation for something, such as a new theory of the origin of the universe.

This reader wanted to know if I would call a man that he reads to every Wednesday, to wish him a happy birthday. He said that every week, he reads my articles aloud to a blind man in Arlington, and that he had become a big fan of my work — perhaps the biggest. “Every Wednesday, we start with Carolyn.”

I called Bob Gildea to wish him a happy 90th birthday today and I can already tell this was the high point of my week. He told me about his early career, his children, and some of his favorite books. He actually said the sentence: “we rejoice when we see Carolyn’s articles pop up.” No one has ever been so delighted or surprised to talk to me, and this may never happen again.

Happy 90th birthday, Bob Gildea — I should be thanking him for giving me the enormous gift of being an appreciative audience!