Once upon a time I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of a news unit - not to just burn someone else’s gas, but to roll up on scene with a purpose. It’s the same strand of DNA that drove my older brother to become a career firefighter - then later, a kick-ass paramedic. But whereas Richard helps people, I just put ‘em on tee-vee, and rarely in the way they envisioned. But this post is less about straining for nobility and more about my growing disdain for all that mobility. It’s not that I want to drive a desk - far from it . I’d just like to know where all these mad dashes, fruitless pursuits and exasperating excursions are taking me. I’m guessing, it ain’t easy street. Most likely, I’ll end up a stooped old man with chronic pain in one shoulder and a bad attitude in every other extremity. If that sounds overly bleak, you obviously ain’t logged enough miles in the name of news. Tearful goodbyes and gauzy retrospectives are reserved for the anchor set. We road warriors are lucky to end our careers with new logo-wear and our vision intact. Oh yeah, we also get stories.
Those stories, along with the access to other people’s lives, fueled my desire to chase deadlines for far longer than logic dictated. But an un-funny thing happened on the way to newsgathering glory. I got bored. Lulled to complacency by the numbing repetition of a thousand newscasts, I began looking around a few years ago for a different way to spend my day. Alas, the world did not beat a path to my feet. Instead, I continued my drudgery, shuffling from one semi-scintillating news scene to another, with lots of windshield meditation in between. Stand-offs, sit-downs, stalemates: assignments that used to render me breathless now strike me as monumentally inconvenient. So I did the only thing I knew to do; I began to scribble about the job I used to find so damned interesting. And it worked! Nowadays I’d much rather write about electronic newsgathering than actually saddle up and do it. Too bad my station won’t pay me cash money for half-baked diatribes. Yet.
So now that we’ve established my overall dislike for the nature of the chase, know that I regularly find myself crisscrossing the region for the oddest of reasons. Ribbon-cuttings, racial slurs, reality shows, I’ve raced to and zeroed in on more than I even pretend to remember. But just as I grow comfortable in my lifelong role as a calloused burnout, someone catches my attention through the open window of my own bored existence. Sometimes it’s a kid impressed by the logos, other times it’s a full grown adult enamored with my call letters. Yesterday, it was three happy cats on a nearby bench, who felt it necessary to cheer when I passed by their lunchtime post. Their enthusiasm washed over me from across midtown traffic. Gripping the wheel with a vigor renewed, I smiled to myself and once again felt proud of my profession - even if I was on a three hour quest for all the storm damage I could cram into thirty seconds of air-time. Now if only I could convince my bosses to let me scrub these logos off the doors. Then perhaps, I’d get some peace in the cockpit. On second thought, I’d have to park like a mere mortal again.
Forget what I said...