No sooner had I pinned my microphone on the park ranger than he whipped out that damn hat. You know - the kind Sergeant Carter wore in those priceless old Gomer Pyle episodes? These days, you usually see these face-light deprivers wedged on the heads of robotic State Troopers, equatorial brims cloaking their every expression in official silhouette. That may match the Sergio Leone movie playing inside your head, Ociffer - but in looks damn silly on the evening news. Still, the Highway Patrol must like it, since they apparently train every recruit to jam it down to their earlobes at the first sight of an approaching TV camera.
But today’s Smokey Bear headwear encounter didn’t for once involve twisted sheet metal. Instead of clinging to a ditch-bank while a highwayman waxes pragmatic, I was gathering sleepy soundbite on a copperhead scare at the Military Park. Not one to intentionally put crap on-the-air, I fiddled with my sticks until my hefty-cam was perched oh so precariously high. Reaching up, I stabilized my shot (and my piece of high-dollar gear I’d willingly catch with my face) until three quarters of the uniformed historian’s weathered face was appropriately sunlit. As unfocused squirrels frolicked in the background, I asked my first question secretly proud I’d conquered the elements for all of what would be an eight second shot.
That’s when the air-conditioning unit outside the Visitor’s Center kicked on, obliterating most of whatever Ranger Bear said.