Most often we news crews can be found at the very center of the latest, breaking development. Other times we merely park the satellite truck on the edge of nowhere and pretend something is happening. (To be fair, a bustling new shopping center is a scant fifteen months away from this location. We were probably smart to get there early.) Not that I have any right to complain; I get paid regardless - whether shackled defendants are trying to body-check me in narrow hallways or bored earthworms are simply diggin’ me from afar. Either way, the check is appreciated, but today’s desolation plays nicely into the theme of tonight’s post, even if it did take half an hour of drawing dirt circles with my shoe to come up with it. File this one under Perception Vs. Reality.
When I was but a youngster, I assumed every news day was a frenzied footrace through uproar and controversy. It never occurred me that those clever people on the evening newscast ever loitered, paced about or fidgeted. When would they have time, what with all that truth to uncover? Little did I know then how agonizingly slow some news days could be. Problem is, there’s a still a newscast to produce - kerfluffle or not. So we dog a little deeper, run through stacks of press releases, reconsider subject matter we’d quickly ditch were Bigfoot to call and wanna hold a press conference. I have to admit I kept an eye out for the elusive beast as I wandered the perimeter of my logo’d exile. Like most news geeks I hate to wait. Just ask Jeff Varner. He knows a thing or two about waiting, having slept on the Outback floor during the second season of Survivor. These days the last thing he wants to do is cool his jets in some backwoods outpost. That, and talk about the second season of Survivor.
Perhaps we should consult the third member of our expedition party. As a grizzled sat truck operator and veteran photog, Danny Spillane knows how to chill at an odd locale. Be it a hurricane, manhunt, Nascar race or Presidential visit, Danny holds a Doctorate degree in extended satellite encampment. Who better than he to explain the mysteries of the wait, the nuances of the delay, the eternal implications surrounding the downtime before all those off-air cues. I tried to broach the subject as he stared intently into the on-sat truck’s board computer, but the outer space coordinates at his fingertip held his full attention. Either that, or the he’d gotten enough blinking amphibians across the virtual highway to earn himself an extra frog. Whatever the case, it took a moment or three for him to process my question: How does one best deal with those idle, endless moments preceding show-time?
"Chewing gum..." he said, "sensible shoes, and a belief in a higher satellite." Not grasping the full meaning of his words, I slowly backed out of the truck and waited for his cryptic wisdom to wash over me. It didn’t and after a few minutes I grew distracted by a nearby colony of ant hills as they ferried off a bent cigarette butt back to their subterranean kingdom. Maybe next time, I’ll just bring a book.