Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Usual Suspects
When is a train wreck the social event of the summer? When you know more cameramen than debutantes, that's when! Moments after an Amtrak passenger train derailed in downtown Mebane yesterday, a predictable scrum began forming around the wreckage. I was in Raleigh at the time, battling field trip kids at the North Carolina Museum of Art. As impressive as that place was, my heart was on the edge of Alamance County, for I knew a number of my friends were convening there against their will. Thus, I couldn't help but stop by on the way back West - if for no other reason than to count the crews who suddenly found themselves stranded by those buckled tracks. My timing was off. The noon newscast had just wrapped up, another press conference was hours away and even the looky-loos who'd canceled the rest of their day were getting bored by the debris. Those crews I did encounter were a little hollow-eyed, mumbling in half sentences about impossible deadlines and a glaring lack of dining options. I offered to get food but most of them stumbled off to their live trucks in a zombie-like daze. No worries. I took a few more looks around, realized I couldn't reach El Ocho's sat truck on the other side of the tracks without a congressional escort and beat feet out of town. Later I was forced to glean details of the disaster by staring at a glowing screen in the corner of my den...