Tuesday, March 20, 2007

For All the Wrong Reasons

Unlike, say - Weaver - I haven’t been to the mountains this week. But with a local 12 year old missing in steep terrain ninety minutes away, it was only a matter of time until I saddled up and headed West. Or so I thought. This morning, as I whittled footage of a certain bald singer, the newsroom exploded. Suddenly co-workers scrambled this way and that as shards of broken news fell over the cubicle farm. Dropping to the floor, I low crawled past the anchors’ desks and dodged scanner fire until I made it to the feed room. There the morning editor hunkered over an open timeline as raw footage poured in through multiple satellite windows. Wedged up under an equipment rack, I watched in silence as flickering images played out on every screen. Searchers scurrying up a hill. Men in camouflage waving walkie-talkies. A lady forest ranger grinning into a bank of microphones. Lying there in the dust-bunnies, I realized that 1.) Michael Auberry was freakin’ alive and 2.) that I could stop hiding from the assignment desk. Feeling all warm inside, I decided to rise - even before a passing janitor jabbed me with a broom handle.

Back in the edit bay, I thought about the missing kid cases I’ve covered and how very few of them ended in anything less than misery. The latest example was just last September - when a week-long hunt for two young Danbury brothers came to a sad halt when a couple of lifeless forms were found upriver. I was there that day. The pall that fell over Search Headquarters when the bad news broke was the kind that sucks the wind out of your local lenslinger - even while scrambling to interview teary-eyed neighbors. Too much of that, I’ve found, erodes the soul. Thus, I faded into the background when the suits began dispatching crews up the mountain. It’s not that I can’t handle the ninety minute drive, the steepest of schleps, the familair halitosis of your most cadaver dogs. No Sir, I can cope and focus simultaneously while still finding time to dig on the view. But when you’re in it for the long haul like me, there’s never a shortage of tragedies and chasms. The sheer odds of doing what I do guarantee my presence at more calamities than I can ever pretend to forget. So understand if I don’t volunteer every time one invades the local consciousness.

Damn, I sound selfish. A young Boy Scout goes missing and I worry only about my own well-being. Untrue. I got kids myself. In fact, before I low-crawled my way through the newsroom this morning, I dialed up the wife and gave her the good news. Her joyful shrieks would have you believe we know the family in question. We don’t. But my wife - who harbors a healthy disdain for TV news - never questions her gut feelings. Its what makes her a kick-ass nurse and a champion Mother. So it was with my bride that I commiserated on the goodness of it all - before stashing my phone and my feelings. That’s nothing I’m proud of - but a gift for disconnecting comes in handy when you quiz victims for a living. That way, when the stories at hand veer off into the utterly senseless, it does not jar the psyche quite as bad. So forgive my melancholy; it is a warm, protective cloak. Should I dare to ever shed it, I might not feel so damn guilty about being happy for all the wrong reasons.

But then what would I blog about?


Murman said...

Glad it ended well. Join the club on those "guilty for all the wrong reasons" feelings.

Keep on crankin' it out Sir. Makes for some damn fine readin'


HockeyPat said...

Your feelings seem normal to me; just most people try to play them off as strengths. Being honest about is always the right thing to do. And no, your butt does not look big in those jeans.