As part of my ongoing mentorship of tomorrow’s broadcasters, I introduced a young lady to a newsgathering tradition as old as the microphone flag itself: the Man on the Street interview. Actually, I just needed some bystander sound for a piece on credit scores I’m putting together, so I grabbed Intern Liz and together we rushed to the nearest Wal-Mart. There we loitered in the far end of the parking lot, away from any pesky manager types who might ‘go corporate’ and force me to desist with my little expedition. So Liz and I paced under a light pole with a security camera on top, trying to look as casual as only a lingering news crew can. To Wally World’s credit, we remained unscathed during our entire ten minute visit - though one bag boy glared at us mightily he rounded up abandoned shopping courts. I was pretty sure I could take him, should the parking lot suddenly go apocalyptic but since I’m a uniter and not a divider I chose not to return his accusing gaze.
Besides, I was too busy getting rejected by passersby. Despite the fancycam on my shoulder and the toothsome young woman at my side, young and old shoppers alike pulled their purses, jackets and opinions close every time I offered to share their thoughts on credit ratings with the more sentient members of the Greater Piedmont Triad. You’d think an offer like that would make a person forget all about the beef jerky, camouflage and jumper cables that awaited them inside, but apparently there was a sale or something. Why else would so many fine citizens decline my friendly appeal, avert the gaze or mumble some ill-gotten retort under their breath. Now, I’m not up on the latest gang signs, buy either a little old lady’s arthritis was acting up or she threatened to burn my entire village should I point that camera her way. Sensing Liz’s unease, I looked over and mustered every bit of veteran credibility I claim to possess. “It’s cool,” I said, hitching my belt, “you just gotta grin when they piss on ya.”
Liz didn’t seem to relish the idea of begging for soundbites, but I felt better - especially when a rumpled yet avuncular gentleman in an old school pimp hat strutted up and asked what we were doing. ‘Yahtzee!’ I thought as I answered with something about a friendly little poll. Much to my surprise, a broad and broken smile spread across Uncle Pimpy’s face and he let loose with a detailed explanation of neglected credit scores and their detrimental effect on acquiring reasonable interest rates. “You sure talk purty,” I feebly offered as the man readjusted his brim and made his way to the awaiting oasis of a couple dozen discount bins. Reinvigorated in his wake, I turned to an approaching column of housewives and reeled them in with ease. Minutes later I had more sentences committed to disc than I could possibly use and I told Liz as much. I’m not sure she was all that impressed as I whisked her away to Unit Four, but I was just happy to be done - especially since a certain surly bag-boy was pointing a most rotund store manager my way.
They’re just lucky I was late for a groundbreaking...