As part of a new series called "My Big Break," All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click and people leap forward into their careers.
Before she became an Emmy Award-winning journalist, Deborah Norville was a senior at the University of Georgia with a low-paying job as a weekend reporter at WAGA-TV in Atlanta. She was barely scraping by on her weekly pay of $75.
Forest Lawn is a big name in the funeral business, and it has funeral homes all across Southern California. Most are stately, sprawling estates. But the Glendale location is a little different.
First off, it's tiny — the size of a typical funeral home bathroom. Second, there aren't any coffins or headstones for sale. There is an attendant, but he can't sell you anything: The urns are only on display. The place feels pretty inconspicuous. It could as easily be marketing homemade pottery as end-of-life planning.
Wayne Warren shakes wet dirt out of a plastic bucket and into a metal chute, tossing aside bigger rocks. For him, California's drought is golden.
Yes, golden. Warren is knee-deep in the San Gabriel River, an hour outside of Los Angeles. That chute next to him is a sluice box. The water washes away the dirt in a muddy cloud, and he leans over the box. Out of the creek, he taps his findings into a green, plastic gold pan and gives it a few swirls. What's left ...