You ever look up from your workspace and see an exact replica of yourself toiling away for the competition? I do all the time, but only today did it weird me out. I was staring through the viewfinder when it happened. More accurately, I was admiring the dustmotes swirling in the background while the Principal in my lens spoke of car crashes and crisis counselors. With my camera perched on its tripod and my reporter locked intently on the educator's words, I was free to daydream and did. In fact, I ws near catatonic when the heavy door to the gymnasium lobby opened and caused my head to swing to the left. When my eyes gained focus, I could have sworn I was looking back in time.
The reporter held the door while the photog squeezed through the space with his camera and bulky tripod. As they did, the school's basketball coach, a man whose DNA still lingered in my lens, greeted them. Respectful of our own ensuing interview and the subject matter at hand, the coach and reporter spoke in hushed tones while the photog set up his gear. Strangely, I was enraptured with this workaday scene. It certainly wasn't the first time rival news crews shared the news. Heck, I see some of my competitors more than I do extendede family members. Buy something about their 'Groundhog Day' appearance intrigued me. Perhaps it was the overwhelming similarities: Like mine, the other crew's reporter was compact, groomed and vaguely Latino. Like me, the other photog was scruffy, Caucasian and more than a little bored.
When News Crew X interviewed the coach, I could almost read the reporter's lips as she asked the Coach the same questions we had a few minutes earlier. Nothing wrong with that; it was after all a run of the mill story about high school kids badly injured in an overnight car crash. Neither crew was breaking any new journalistic ground and we all knew it. But staring at the four of us just going through the motions made me think and I realized why, to the people we interview on a daily basis, we all look the same for a very good reason.
Of course, I didn't let my lack of originality stop me from my appointed rounds. We soon left the gym lobby quietly, as not to interrupt the other crew as they took the microphone from the Coach and attached it to the Principal's lapel. In fact, I'd pretty much put the quiet interlude out of my mind, until about an hour later when I followed an impossibly vague set of directions to one of the injured boy's home. Who should be squeezing out of the humble trailer's door than our cross-town clones. We traded pleasantries as they packed up their gear and we unloaded ours, but I couldn't help but notice the other photog looking at me funny as they drove away and we climbed the mobile home's rickety stairs.
Bet I know what he was thinking...