“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m afraid we have an indicator alerting us to a possible electrical malfunction onboard and since we want to get you to Cincinnati as safely as possible, we’re gonna taxi back to the terminal for a closer look...”
Curses and murmurs rumbled through the packed cabin as rear-ends shifted and cell phones chirped back to life. The guy to my right pulled a Blackberry out of his pocket and began jabbing at it angrily. Behind me a woman explained to to someone how she was about to miss her connecting flight. Only then did I set down the Ernie Pyle biography and fish out my own itinerary. Damn. With only a fifty minute layover in Cincy, I was in danger of the same. The jet I was scheduled to be on would leave Ohio airspace without me - provided their pilot didn’t notice an idiot light flashing moments before thrusting the aircraft upward. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate the crew’s dedication to safety - I did. But the fact was my own mission was going down in flames with every awkward bounce back down the rainy runway. Nope, I thought - there is no way I’ll be in Tulsa by the time the little bald guy with the lightning bolt sideburns takes the stage.
Back inside the terminal, a woman with a shiny nametag, a lovely scarf and a shitty attitude confirmed my suspicion. I would not make it to Cincinnati in time. The plane there would not wait for me. I would not be able to catch another flight West until 10 pm. I would not haggle with the tour manager, score any free drinks form the club owner or suffer the inebriated shout-outs of eight hundred unhinged Oklahomans. Okay that last one I could have done without anyway, but drunken revelers were part of the gig and I had hoped to weave their beer-spittle throughout the profile of young Mr. Turbo-Throat. Why else would I agree to dash to the Sooner State just to sling a lens? Besides the fact that I paid for it. And the knowledge it would make damn fine blog-fodder? And that I love to shoot live music - even if it is from a guy I first interviewed during his lunch-break from Crown Honda.
But it wasn’t the sweaty encores I’d miss that got me down. No, I was bummed by the flummoxing of all that planning. Gauzy profiles don’t happen by osmosis, ya know. They take strategery - and lots of doodads. It’s why I spent all day Friday bouncing from an edit suite blaring sex offender footage to a padded bag bristling with gizmos. I’d thought of everything: tripod, lights, umbrella, extra discs, batteries, microphones - even a three-pronged doohickey I was gonna use to jack into the nightclub’s soundboard. And I didn’t just cadge some of these gadgets from unsuspecting coworkers, I packed them! That’s a big deal, for photogs love to pack. It’s a ritual of preparedness, if you will - the amassing and proper stowage of the myriad of tools that help make television. I know guys who - despite regularly sleeping in piles of dirty laundry - can field strip their news unit’s interior of every working thingamabob and itemize them by purpose, cost and vintage. Blindfolded. Even absent-minded professor types like me harbor a certain categorization fetish. So its no really no surprise that as I schlepped my gear off the concourse, it wasn’t the fact that my all-access backstage pass had been revoked that bothered me, but that all my obsessive acts of inventory had all been for naught.
Sure beats a sudden loss of altitude, though.