“Okay players, listen up! When the scanner crackles you and your partner will use one of these ragged-out live trucks to race to a place to be determinedalong the way. Once you think you’ve arrived, the person who drove will unload all the equipment as fast as possible while the passenger player rushes to the center of the incident and determine just what the hell happened. Keep in mind three other 2 person teams, possibly smarter and probably better looking, are rushing to the same location and are allowed to cut you off in traffic, mislead you down a dead end or flip you the Bicentennial bird. Remember, individual teams can form allies, but it must be unspoken! Changing conditions and gear malfunctions can be expected by all. The first team to establish a live signal and present the facts in full color focus will win immunity from their ten o clock re-cuts. Extra points awarded for good backlight, exclusive video and a trace of respectability. Are you ready? GO!”
Okay, so work ain't exactly a reality show, but it's close. More than anything it's a series of photo finishes, in which you hop obstacles alongside those of another logo until you both stumble across the finish line. It makes we wonder what its like to work in other industries where The Competition is just some squiggly line on a chart. Not my gig. Every day we rub shoulders with the operatives of Channel X; doppelgangers jostling for shots at lock-ups and coliseums. Truthbetold, it's better that way, as nothing breeds complacency like working in a vacuum. Not that I'd know. I've spent most of my working life trying to out-shoot, out-drive, out-light, out-edit and out-write a rotating cast of gladiators in overly-logoed parkas. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but I'm rarely unsure of my team's status, what with my most heated rival hyperventilating just three feet away.
But it ain't all battle. Odd pockets of downtime make for casual conversations among combatants - sometimes by the side of a highway, other times while stalking an elevator landing. In fact, some of my most engaging exchanges have taken place in the presence of OPT (Other People's Tripods). Back during my formative years, I learned most everything I knew back then from my direct competitors. They, after all, were the ones I jousted with on a daily basis. With little critque from my faraway bosses, I got better solely by copying those who choked me with heel dust day after day. One gapped-tooth mentor was especially kind; he even rang me up one day to tell me I'd better get over to the SBI office pronto. Seems a drug dealer had taken great umbrage at having his stash confiscated, so he broke in and stole it back from the cops. That kind of story can take all day and I believe my buddy only called me because he was lonely over there kickin' my ass.
Besides, he knew I'd bring donuts.