Friday, November 12, 2004

Snowblind On the Overpass

The Feeling of Accomplishment Outlasted the Frostbite…

Here in the South, we're still a couple of months away from snow. Not that it will take much precipitation to spark the Annual Media Sno-gasm. Yankees may scoff at our excitement - but here where the local viewers begin stockpiling food and weapons before the first flake ever hits the ground...well, three to five inches of snow and ice is a BIG DEAL.

Big enough to shake me out of my soft-news coma, anyway. In times like these (snow, frogs, locusts) , frantic desk jockeys with too much caffeine on board drag me out of my cozy edit bay and out into the Great Frozen Unknown. Be it chasing salt trucks, shooting future E.R. patients at the sled gatherings, or whipping the bread and milk crowd into a freeze-dried frenzy - it’s always a blast when snow clouds take a dump on the Land of Dixie.

I remember the last snow storm. When the alarm clock started screaming at 3:15 a.m. (same time as the Amityville Horror murders), I jumped from my bed, wrapped my self in logo wear and jumped in my pick-up. Say what you want about southerners not being able to drive in the snow, but I for one am getting plenty of practice. By the time I fish-tailed into work I was pretty damn confident of my maneuvering skills, even if stopping on target still eluded me.

Still, I managed to safely bring my five-speed tractor to a reasonable halt and within minutes I was behind the wheel of one rolling billboard with retractable mast. As the wacky morning traffic guy riding shotgun fished out his first discount cigarette of the day, I cranked the crappy radio and pretended I could actually see out of my thoroughly opaque windshield - all the while humming along and wondering, who Did let the dogs out?

I never found out. For soon, we had reached our destination - there, up ahead. That snow-covered grassy knoll by the interstate overpass - that looks like a perfect place for some live morning television! Within minutes my chain-smoking partner and I were busy dragging out all manners of outdated TV equipment - all in the name of keeping our neighbors safe. Sure, the generator fumes were making me hallucinate and I soon couldn’t feel my toes, but this is public safety we’re talking about here! Somewhere an old lady in a bad housecoat was dying to hear the words “wintry white stuff’ emanating from her kitchen TV set. Moms and Dads who had no intention of leaving their homes yearned to see frost-bitten correspondents shiver on cue and kick at the ice with their designer boots. Senior citizens were relying on us to keep them updated on every single salt truck in town - even the one half-dismantled out behind the County garage. Yes, all over the Greater Piedmont Triad Googolplex, the good citizens were counting on us. Across the region they leaned into their set s and hung on every word - hoping against all hopes that somewhere out there, some crazy kid of a reporter would be clever enough to pack along an oversized thermometer, and repeatedly refer to it throughout the morning.

And we didn’t disappoint. In fact, we gave our loyal viewers the best four hours of our life. Feigned snowball fights, mock excitement at passing snow-scrapers, even a few heartfelt words of caution for the army of ice-sled daredevils currently bundling up. As the wind picked up and I lost most of the feeling in my fingers, my nicotine-addicted reporter dug deep, offering up every snowbound clichĂ© he knew, which as it turns out - was quite a few. Before either of us was ready to regain sensation in our lower extremities, the show was over and we were left with nothing to do but seek the proper shelter our southern bloodlines demanded. But the feeling of accomplishment lasted far longer than my third degree frostbite…

Yes, when the ivory expanse under the live truck was scorched an angry black from the exhaust pipe, when the last of my partner’s low-dollar smokes were crushed under his boot, when the mysterious spot of yellow snow by the wood-line had reached it’s full growth, we packed up our ice-covered toys and made a beeline for the nearest greasy spoon- knowing deep down inside that on this cold, snowy morning, we sir, were living our dreams.

At least that's the kind of crap my news manager was selling when he signed me up for day two.


D. Hoggard said...

Excellent reason to have a blog, Slinger.

The view behind the camera has always intrigued me. You deserve blogroll many links, I will be the first.


Patrick Eakes said...

I agree. I will be the second.