Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Toxic Hop Scotch
Hey, wanna make the photog in your life wince in pain without - you know, touching him? Simple, whisper these two words in his (or her) one good ear: "Walking Tour". Chances are they'll double up on the spot - or at least grumble a bit, depending on how much time has passed since their last extended amble. Me, I'm still aching from Tuesday's forced march through a local elementary school. It seems the old place has been making teachers and students sick for y-e-a-r-s. Headaches, rashes, nose bleeds; just a few of the symptoms a group of parents described to federal inspectors before the whole lot of them decided to traipse through the campus in search of noxious smells, bleeding walls or even a certain ooze. Of course when I heard experts were touring a building known for making its occupants sick to their stomach, I knew I had to be there!
Actually, I didn't have much choice. The grown-ups said 'GO!' and since those damn lottery numbers didn't pan out the other night, I went. Not that the federal inspection team wanted me there. Their leader, a sophisticated lady with a cool British accent, eyeballed me the moment I came crashing into the media center, where a table full of teachers and parents threatened to bring in stool samples and gnarly Polaroids if something wasn't done about their sick school. If she didn't like the looks of my lens, I thought, wait until she get a load of my friends. See, this is the Greater Piedmont Googolplex, home to three TV stations and a cable news outlet that acts like one. A bullfrog can't pass a wet fart on the highway without a handful of jaded news crews showing up for extended team smotherage of ToadShit '09!
True to form, by the time the inspectors dismissed the parents and gathered up their clipboards, no fewer than four fancycams waited to follow their every move. And....we're off! You know they may call it a 'walking tour' but the only ones getting their sashay on were the ones wearing wingtips. Those of us in cargo shorts and sweat stains weren't quite so economical in our movements. You can't be when you're trying to be a well placed fly on the wall, one that captures sweeping vistas of the group making their way down deserted hallways and rock-solid tight shots of whatever the hell it is they point out along the way. Thus, I and three of my closest competitors bounced off each other like pinballs, sprinting ahead, falling back, crouching in corners - all while trying not to pile-drive the Queen or her minions into any open, oozing lockers.(Sorry, lady!)
Yes, nothing makes you feel like hired help more than flanking a bunch of out of town experts as they poke, prod and frown their way through your particular jurisdiction. The fact that your not alone only makes it worse, for the presence of a competitor always ratchets up the action. Even though I considered the other lenslingers there good friends, it's my sworn duty to get better shots than them. They of course feel the same way about me, which is why a simple tour of a supposedly mold-ridden school can easily resemble a light saber fight sequence from one of those God-awful Star Wars sequel ( minus the back-flips and bad acting). Truth be told, I had what i needed about ten minutes in, but with every other camera sticking close I didn't dare break away - lest some overdressed expert jimmy open a janitor's locker to find a smoldering, toxic scarecrow stirring a vat of cafeteria peanut butter and that sawdust they use to cover up kid vomit...
THAT never happened, but the slightest possibility that it might kept me in the game longer than my gams wished I had - which - along with the fact that my ass is numb from driving nine hours in the past two workdays - explains why I'm walking kind of funny. That and the fact that Swamp-Ass Season is upon and I finally ran out of that Boudreaux's Butt Paste that Portier gave me.
Sorry, Too Much Information...