It's said to be the only true perk of broadcasting: the right to park like a putz. Actually, I've scoured the by-laws of our profession and can't find anything about free-range vehicle placement. But you can't rewrite history and neither can you convince some 20-something slacker he's not allowed to snake the Mayor's spot. It's been that way ever since a TV station first slathered a Packard with false promises. It's as if those early call letters bestowed the fleet that followed with an eternal, mysterious power to pull over anywhere we damn well pleased. Why is that? I'm guessing it had something to do with the heft of our weaponry. Back then, even the most basic gear induced hernias in 4 out of 5 photogs. Or is it because our very tools sparked panic/joy/loathing in the hearts of otherwise placid taxpayers? Perhaps. Even to this day, the citizenry affords news vehicles and the crews within them access they don't always deserve. It's the kind of thing you won't find me pointing out to the crime scene crowd as they step back to let me place my unit right up against the yellow tape.
These days, of course, I roll sans logo. The unmarked life has its merits. I can slow-cruise a shopping mall parking lot without tipping off the rent-a-cops. I can space out at a green light without the dude behind me threatening to kick my weatherman's ass. I can even drive past a liberal college's student union without a single overindulged neo-hippie kid flipping me off. It's all rather refreshing! But stealth has it's downside. No more rolling up to a house fire like an ambulance driver. Now I gotta go through a lot of windshield pantomime to convince the firefighting underling I'm not just some freelance looky-loo but instead am a respected member of the local media scum, er, scrum. Sure, I got a laminated sign with El Ocho's logo on it, but it's not just the same as driving a minivan wrapped in day-glow peacock feathers. Been there, and got a heckuva better spot for my troubles. Oh well, at least I can live vicariously through the infractions of others by visiting the latest Facebook group, Media Parking.
Basically, it's pictures of cars. News cars. From massive sat truck gatherings to a lone news unit's refusal to park like a mortal van, this ad-hoc collection of logo-mobile porn leaves me strangely titillated. Maybe I'm just pining for the old days, when I could commandeer some executive's parking lot perk without any real fear of retribution. Whatever the reason, I'm not alone in my fascination. Already a butt-load of vehicular pix have been uploaded and the admirers of said site increase with every click. I believe that to be just, for if I can't get get away with spot-squatting like I once could, it's refreshing to see others break all kinds of social mores in cyberspace. Hey, isn't that why the internet was invented in the first place? Don't answer that. In fact, don't move. There's a grandmother hunkered down in a Cushman nearby eyeballing us both while stroking her citation pad. As soon as I throw this baby in PARK, hop out and run for the front entrance. She can't ticket both of us...
Just be careful how you open the car door. Those fire hydrants leave a nasty mark.