Thanks to a series of fresh press passes, my twenties were pretty intense. Since then, however, the sudden rush of understanding felt when golden shovels break topsoil has subsided a bit. Don't get me wrong. I still feel a thrill when the rent-a-cop wants to pat me down and loitering outside a burning meth-lab never does lose its buzz. But the less glamorous aspects of news-gathering haven't aged nearly as well. Neither, for that matter, have I. Back when I was a neophyte with good intentions and a wicked mullet, I tackled every assignment with hustle, gusto and a really rad jean jacket.
These days, I rarely ever go double-denim. But as my wardrobe has evolved, so too has my attitude. No longer do I volunteer for all-day stake-outs. Where as I used to fall in behind each and every passing siren, I usually now drop to the floor and hide under my desk. And that three part consumer investigative piece? I'd rather pretend I watched it than shoot a single miserable frame. How did I get to be this way? Overexposure to all manner of inanity, I think. Truth is, I don't really know. See, I was just a pup when I wandered off the street and into my very first newsroom. Thus, I can't tell if I'm half-bent and cynical because I've carried a camera everywhere I gone for more than two decades, or if it's the other way around. I don't suppose it even matters. One thing's for sure: I learned to work the knobs pretty quickly, but it's taken me years to gain even a little perspective.
What IS that perspective? Hard to say. All I know is twenty years behind the lens has left me half-convinced I've seen it all. No doubt that comes from repeating myself so many times over the years. Example: I've produced more 'Back to School Shopping' stories than I can shake a three-ring binder at. Somewhere at the North Carolina Zoo there's a cage with my name on it - not because I'm so damn furry but because I've showcased every species that place has to offer - including the veteran janitor dude who'd rather dry-scrape the monkey pit than clean up after one more third grader. I don't blame him, for that kind of time in office can only lead to scandal, graft or petulance. For we 'slinger types, a long career manifests itself in a kind of practiced aimlessness, an urgent insouciance, a feeling of being well connected yet utterly detached...
Now if you'll excuse me there's a drive-by shooting I gotta get to. Seems they're fresh out of knock-knock jokes and it's my turn to bring the fondue set...WHAT?!?