“Hi folks, wanna tell Channel 8 what your New Year’s Resolution is?”
The old couple looked my way, their necks jerking in unison like two frightened birds. The woman’s thin lips curl into a sneer, but before she can say anything her husband deems me a degenerate and pulls her away. I smile as if they tipped me and let them pass.
‘Was it something I said?’ I ask myself. My tone, perhaps? I look down at my clothes and decide they’re perfectly suitable for approaching strangers in a parking lot. Unfazed, I glance around and spot three teenage girls walking out of the Old Navy. So lost in conversation about their very next text, they don’t notice me until I’m within arms reach.
“Hey ladies,” I say, waving the stick microphone I’ve been concealing in my sleeve, “Ya got a second to tell Channel 8 about your New Year’s Resolution?”
Minutes later, I’m still squinting through the lens as the high schoolers yammer on about their plans. I nod and act interested as they chirp in what can best be described as a foreign tongue. In truth, I’m not even listening to them. There’s no need to - not when the glowing red light in the corner of my screen and the dancing green audio lights tell me all I need to know. ‘WHEN will this be on?’, I hear them think. When they run out of complete sentences, I tell them. Tonight at Six. Only half a dozen hours before Twenty Ten runs out.
As they scamper off to text their friends, I scan the parking lot for any signs of a security guard. Amazingly, I don’t see one. Was a time I couldn’t wave a station bumper sticker around these parts without getting wrestled to the ground. Now, it appears I could shoot a reality show on the Ben and Jerry’s patio and not get hassled. Makes me glad I didn’t ask permission to be here.
Two men, both dressed in khaki pants and dark golf shirts head straight for me. They look like IT guys looking to score copier paper. I let them pass and center in on a trio of Goth Kids smoking on the corner.
“Wanna tell the local news what your New Years Resolution is? Guaranteed to piss someone off.”
They look at me like I just licked my eyelid, but I only gaze back. Twenty years of panhandling for sound has thickened my skin and lengthened my stare. But when they fail to utter an interesting syllable, I shrug and walk away. Guess Marilyn Manson fans don’t believe in promises - no matter how they try to convince Mom to change the wallpaper in their bedrooms. ‘No bother’ I think. Plenty of fish in the sea; plenty of gasbags in the parking lot. Just a few more on tape - er, disc, er, card and I can start my own New Year’s Eve ritual - which basically consists of avoiding shopping malls, strangers and microphones. Glancing at my watch, I try to do the math to see how much time I have left, but the numbers hurt my brain and I’m reminded why I’m holding a TV camera in the first place.
That’s when I spot them. An African-American family pouring out of the Barnes and Nobles; impeccably dressed, the youngest one in dreds. ‘Yahtzee’, I think as I heave my camera into first shoulder position and hit RECORD for what would be the final time that year...
“Hi there folks, care to cap off two Thousand Ten with a quick confession? Just wanna know your New Year’s Resolution. Limited time offer...”