Moments after strolling into the newsroom this morning, I strolled right back out, jumped in trusty Unit 4 and plotted an immediate course due North. The trip to Caana took about an hour but I didn't really mind. It gave me a chance to listen to my new Gorillaz CD in its entirety, chew a toothpick to smithereens and snap this 70 mile an hour photograph of Pilot Mountain - a place I still refer to as 'Mount Pilot', thanks to all those Andy Griffith episodes I watched as a kid. But I couldn't let nostalgia slow me down, for I had a date...with a big goofy check.
Understand, this isn't the first oversized promisory note I've crossed mountains to put on TV. In this silly business, giant checks are as common as gold plated groundbreaking shovels and giant ribbon cutting scissors. Something about these broadcast props hold a powerful allure over assignment editors. Wave a freshly-faxed press release under the right nose and they'll strap me to a rocket just so someone's magic-marker masterpiece can make their television debut. But enough of my bitterness; are we there yet? Ah, here we go...The Lucky Horseshoe, a lottery ticket disperal emporium that just happens to sell beer and cigarettes.
Inside, a dozen grizzled factory workers from nearby Mt. Airy squirmed and giggled like nervous school girls as Virginia Lottery officials checked their I.D.'s. Seems the workers had pooled their resources in hopes of cracking the 315 million mega-million drawing. They missed the unthinkable fortune by one number, but managed to score the second prize of 250 thousand dollars. That's about 12 thousand bucks a piece after taxes, not enough to retire on but more than enough to get on Tee-Vee. As I moved in with soggy toothpick and fancy-cam in tow, the group stiffened, uneasy around strangers with lenses. Within minutes however, we were the best of friends. As they chortled at all the attention I rode the focus and realized that, big goofy check aside, all this giddiness was well-worth the trip.