It sounded simple enough. Go cover the emotional homecoming of a young family injured in a head-on collision. Caron Myers worked the phones for details and barely flinched at their estimated time of arrival - 3 PM, a full three hours before the story was scheduled to render the entire region verklempt. That's less time than we'd like, but to a couple of meatball surgeons like ourselves, it was hardly reason to panic. Besides, tearful reunions are pretty easy to shoot: just point the big end of the camera at the emotion. It may not win any awards for cinematography, but a shoulder-rolled rendezvous can choke up a soybean farmer from across a crowded truck stop - especially if his grandbaby's with him. With that in mind, Caron and I rolled up at quarter 'til without too much concern - though to be honest, the live truck did smell like old cheese.
The Pollards on the other hand, could not have been more agreeable. Anxious to have their family members home from the hospital, they gathered by the newly constructed wheelchair ramp and praised their maker for needing it at all. Jeremy and Tiffany Pollard were taking their 16-month-old son Stephen to a revival service a few weeks ago when they smashed head-on into another car. Doctors were pessimistic at first, but all three family members have made what some are calling a miraculous discovery. Less miraculous was the fluid execution of coming home. When four o clock came with no hospital van in sight, Caron and I prepped the truck, doing all we could to save precious moments come crunch time. By five o clock there was still no movement on the horizon and my lower left leg fell asleep in protest. It dozed 'til around quarter to six, when word of the van's imminent arrival caused me to wiggle and shake like Elvis on amphetamines. Once all feeling in my leg returned, I used it to pace back and forth by the driveway, lens hoisted, ready to pounce.
Five minutes later I got my chance. The van rolled up quickly, family and friends descended upon it and the wheelchair bound couple emerged tired but smiling. Someone handed them their baby, who'd just been released from the hospital a day later, and grateful tears fell. I rolled on it all, with one eye on the clock. By the time we broke away and bolted for the live truck, the opening theme to the six o clock news filled the air. With eight minutes to go before they introduced our piece, we huddled over the laptop, dropping shots and bouncing sound until something close to lucidity was achieved. At 6:08, they took our live shot; Caron espoused into the lens while I mentally broke down both the truck and my gear. As for the resulting piece, no one will ever stick it in a time capsule, but I guarantee you somewhere out there, a viewer's lip quivered right on cue - not due to my camera acumen mind you but because of the simple shot of a toddler in a neck brace.
So drive carefully, and if you feel compelled to help the Pollards in their long recovery, you can start right here. Thanks...