On many a pre-dawn raid I packed a thermos the size of a warhead on board whatever TV live truck I happened to be flying. It was a must. Early morning live shots can be grueling -' rushing from one location to another, raising the mast, tuning in, pulling cable, setting up, lighting, and whatever else it takes to spice up the marathon of live remotes.
For me that spice was caffeinated java. I took on slow gallons of the store-bought bean, all while dragging cameras and cables around every riot, rodeo and Red Cross in our fair parcel.
Trouble was, all that coffee had ill effects on the body photog. It's not that it made me jittery - no matter how jacked to the gills I may have been, I put my live camera work up against anyone's - super-jacked-to-the-max or straight-up decaf. The camera comes first.
No, my jag with the juice was of a more...diarrhetic variety. A time or two, that ole quivery feeling in the back of the knees hit me while I was trying to hold a camera steady on a reporter, potted plant or both. Couple the gastro-gurgle with biting cold weather and you have the recipe for high-anxiety. OOF! I'll spare you the details, but let's just say it's not easy to do the one-eyed camera backpedal when you got a LAUNCH COMMIT! in the nether-regions. Know what I mean, Vern?
I could usually take care of business like a gentlemen, but overnite shootings and icy bypasses don't have porta-potties, ya know. You try to uphold your Mother's standards when you're stuck in the rural highlands with 800 CC's of high-dollar Starbucks onboard. Only twice have I had to set down the camera quickly and make an impromptu mad-dash for the treeline, venturing off on a lone walk with nature, a bivouac best left undocumented.
There was that one time, after spending hours alone in a live truck parked on the icy interstate. I was already dancing foot-to-foot when the last remote ended. As I scrambled to break down the truck the urge to go almost overwhelmed me. But all around, morning traffic zoomed past - making any clandestine bladder relief impossible.
All I could do was gather up my cables as fast as possible, and plot my desecration of the nearest gas station restroom I could find. Imagine my alarm when the live truck wouldn't drop. Having towered over my frosty perch all morning, the damn thing was encased in a thick layer of ice - the telescopic sections frozen in their fully-extended position.
"Yeah, no problem", said the engineer over my cell phone as I pressed my knees inward in a desperate attempt to hold back the impending gush, "see if you can get some hot water to pour over the mast. That should crack the ice and you'll be on your way."
Knowing the only warm liquid available was the eight gallons roiling in my mid-section, I fought the urge to climb the truck and let 'er rip. Instead I hopped lock-kneed circles around the truck, imagining the pile-up I'd cause if I did baptise the live truck in such an unceremonious fashion.
After much gnashing of the teeth I locked up my frozen vessel and hobbled toward the forest, like some staion-logo wearing Sasquatch scampering over the ice floe. Seconds after disappearing into the thicket several square feet of icy expanse were feverishly melted. Ahhh...sweet relief!