I called my husband and son to say good morning, just as I had done every morning in all the years past when I was out of town. As always, my husband told me my work had looked great and my seven-year-old boy told me to come home as fast as I could and to bring him a surprise. It was a regular ritual.
I was staying at my favorite hotel home away from home, The Pierre, a grand old New York pile that is stuffy and high-priced. Without my CBS discount, I never would have seen the inside of the place.
The Pierre is also quiet, close to the office, and sweetly old-fashioned. Old-fashioned enough that Kitty Carlisle apparently still goes there often for "highballs," according to the hotel bartender, along with a male friend and their respective nurses. I once ran into her in the ladies' room, looking like she had just stepped off the set of "To Tell the Truth," mink capelet and all.
The elevator operators and doormen were older, too, and they were kind, always looking out for me. They knew me because of my regular visits and comfortingly clucked over how hard I was working when I stayed there.
On this trip, they had seen me leaving very early and coming in very late for the past few days. I had been staggering out to catch a cab to work by 9 a.m. and arriving back exhausted about 3 a.m. after the bar had closed and the hotel was buttoning up for the night. By the time I arrived, there was often no one in the lobby except a bellman, me, and perhaps a gaudily dressed female guest or two.
I often wondered what those women thought I did for a living. Disheveled and limping, straggling along with a heavy briefcase full of files, I entered the hotel lobby each night looking like a failing hooker for that small subset of customers who preferred exhausted, unkempt professional women.
On this morning, though, my energy was back. I was exhilarated by another success.
When I got to work, my mood was reinforced. I made rounds to thank the editors who had worked so hard to get the story put together in time for air. Their jobs are not for the faint of heart or for people who panic when time is short or the workload is overwhelming.
I ran into other producers and correspondents and collected hugs and kisses and congratulations. There were jokes about what we would do as a follow-up. Dan and I had broken the Abu Ghraib story in late April. Now this. My team, the people at "60 Minutes," and Dan all felt like we were on a roll.
The new executive producer of "60 Minutes Wednesday," Josh Howard, gave me a hug and congratulations, following up on a flattering e-mail he had sent me around midnight the night before: "I was just sitting here thinking about how amazing you are. I'm buckled in, ready to see where you'll take us next. Let's go!"
There was no hint of what was to come, no whiff of doubt about the work we had all done on the story.