Hoisting TV glass for twenty years has damaged more than my attention span; it's been hell on my skeleton. Neck aching, lower back sore, right knee throbbing like Studio 54. My moves just aren't as fluid as they used to be - and that's not just because I haven't hit the Disco since 'Celebration' was fresh. No, it's that ball and chain I been holding on my shoulders all these years; the one I schlep from courthouse floor to widow's door, often with tripod, battery bag and chiseled correspondent in tow. Is it any wonder I make old man noises when I take off my shoes at night? Little help, please?
But it's not just me. Ever since the very first fancycam was forged from industrial steel, those tasked with dragging it into battle have paid with their thorax. Throw in a drive-thru diet and a never-ending sense of energy and you have a chiropractor's dream. Me - I've avoided the quacks, pills and sawbones for longer than most. I credit my DNA - that and a habit of working smarter, not harder. See it's not just my penchant for solitude that forces me to work alone. Carrying junior reporters across the finish line every day wears me down; so does snaking five hundred feet of live truck cable up a concrete stairwell. Not that turning features is all that easier. You ever chased a glad-handing sheriff as he charity-jogged across his county? Or dodged sliding trombones at a Founders Day parade? Call it 'soft news' and I may very well pop you in the jaw. If I could lift my arm above my shoulder, that is.
Of course some say technology will save the day. Magic laptops and diminutive lenses will make the creaky cameraman as obsolete as all those hatband press-passes. I'm not so sure. As long as there's a room full of experts with airtime to fill, those of us on the other end will need our Ben-Gay at night. For crying out loud (DOH!), they do call them back-pack journalists, don't they? They do, and just because your camcorder is the size of a baked potato, doesn't mean twenty years of one-eyed back-pedal won't take its toll. Especially if you run into the likes of me, a less than fresh veteran who's not above giving you bad advice while blocking your shot. Hey, rubbin's racin', right?
Don't bother answering. Just hand me that heating pad. My back is killing me.