I know precious little about the horse rescue my buddy Duff McDander covered the other day, but the trek he and his reporter had to make in the process looks all too familiar. It's a facet of news-gathering most couch potatoes never think about. Nor should they have to, I guess. But whenever I watch a story about imperiled animals, unplanned landings or some hiker stepping in something sticky, I can't help but ponder the portage. Maybe that's because I've humped it into the muck more times than I'd like to admit, usually while cursing like the sailor I once was. It was easier in my twenties, when adrenaline, arrogance and acid-washed jeans fueled my fervor for the kind of assignments I now try to dodge at all costs. Does that make me less of a lenslinger? You betcha - but twisting happenstance into headlines is a young man's game and at age 42 I'm damn near antique. Besides, I'm most often alone - a status I've cultivated through brash acts of flatulence. But sometimes, even I yearn for a partner, someone to boost my morale, lift my spirits and carry my sticks.
Duff seems to have had just that and no doubt his back is the better for it. Of course not every reporter will lower themselves to the role of stevedore - some because they're erudite overdressed professionals, others because they're lazy sacks of shit. (You know who you are.) It's a shame, too because there's no better way for a news crew to bond than over a shared hernia. I know some of my most cherished reporter memories are ones involving apoplexy, deprivation and flopsweat. I'll spare you the smelly details; just know that no one rages against the machine like a lacquered correspondent coming apart at the greasy, wrinkled, stinky seams. So the next time you're staring at the flat-screen and some yammering hair-do breaks into programming with breathless details of a fresh Sasquatch cadaver, newly harpooned fugitive or particularly sticky pot-pull, pay close to attention to his or her pits. If all is arid extra dry, chances are said mouthpiece scribbled details in the sanctity of an air-conditioned sat truck while an army of shooters delved deep into the bush. If however they kind of look like they woke up in a nightclub dumpster, give them your attention and dare I say, your respect.
They sure got mine.