Monday, January 30, 2006

Phone Tag, Firefighters and Floor Wax

Roger that...Okay, so not EVERY day behind your local TV news lens is a breath-taking thrill-ride through pomp and cataclysm. Truth is, some days my gig is as boring as...well, your job. Take today for instance. After a brisk morning of thwarted phone calls, I jumped up from my newsroom cubicle at the first mention of a certified calamity in progress just a few miles away. Crawling into Unit 4, I pushed last week's collection of newspapers out of the way and threw it in reverse. Screw playing phone-tag with a bunch of PR flacks, I thought as I gunned the engine out of the parking lot, I got a toxic waste spill to check out.

Floor Wax CreekFive minutes later my glee dissipated as I clung to a bamboo stalk and looked down at the alledged toxicity. Something was definitely wrong with the creek behind High Point University; what was usually a trickling artery of rushing brown water now sat stagnant under a thick milky layer of mysterious fluid. Staring into the abyss, memories of all-night galley-mopping roiled to the surface of my simmering brain pan. That's when the three firemen who had been containing the mess with shovels full of mud noticed the TV geek clinging to the banks and with seven simple words affirmed my suspicions: "Hey dude, you lose some floor wax?"

Floor Wax FiremenThat's right, floor wax. Seems an independent contractor at a nearby Food Lion thought it might be a good idea to dump gallons upon gallons of floor wax in the grocery store parking lot. Mix in a little gravity, an eager storm drain and a curious jogger and you have the three main reasons some of High Point's bravest and yours truly spent a few quality moments huddling over North Carolina's most lemony-fresh waterway. Luckily, I love firefighters, perhaps because my brother is one. As we waited for the city dump trucks to arrive, we traded insults, talked shop and admired our collective reflections in the shimmering, mirror-like surface.

All in all, it was a pleasant midday interlude I'd gladly waste forty-five minutes on again - even if I did have six unanswered phone messages waiting for me when I got back to my desk. Beats a real job.


Anonymous said...

Did it run?

Daniel said...

my favorite spill story: in 1993 a truck carrying liquid chocolate overturned in cleveland county, where I ran the news operation for the local daily. All this liquid chocolate drained into a stream, and the hazmat team treated the entire scene like it was a toxic spill. Needless to say, we got a kick out of that one.

Couple weeks later I got a phone call from a children's book author who wanted details. when i told her that the county seat was the home of the annual Livermush Festival she just about had an orgasm. Whether her "Evil Livermush-eaters overthrown by chocolate spill" plot was ever published, I cannot say.

Lenslinger said...

Yes, it ran - for all of forty seconds.

Great story, Daniel. My FAVORITE overturned truck story involved a truck full of live pigs en route to market. When the truck turned over on its side, authorities called in prosoners from a local prison farm, who quickly built a makeshift fence around the truck. Welders came out and cut the truck open, the dazed pigs wandered out into the fence, where firefighters sprayed them down with firehoses so they wouldn't overheat in the summer sun. As a TV guy, the sory had everything: animals, prisoners, weid the delicious irony that the swine in question had survived the wreck only to board another truck for the slaughterhouse. Won my first AP award with that one. And my last, come to think of it.

Billy Jones said...

I once saw a tractor trailer rig loaded with Pepsi ram into the back of a rig loaded with Ketchup... Talk about a spill, it was all over the New York Thruway, traffic stopped for hours as the cut the rigs apart and washed everything away.

Thankfully, neither rig was mine.