Of all the holidays a TV News photog has to work, the Fourth of July is one of 'em. Actually, it's a lot like working President's Day - just with a greater chance of heatstroke. I should know...
I've schlepped my weapon through more re-enactor campsites than any dues-paying militia member within the six county confederacy.
I've spun like a top in the middle of Main Street as mostly sober grandpas sporting the latest in fez-wear tried to kill me with go-carts and halitosis.
I've soaked in the smoke of a wide open pig-cooker a total stranger in an American flag apron insisted I take a whooping To-Go plate back to the studio. I usually ate it in the car.
I've felt concrete bridges flex beneath my feet as a State Trooper aimed his radar gun down at passing traffic and chuckled as the truckers flinched.
I've dropped wisecracks in the firecracker shack before a guy with nine fingers and a mouth full of worm dirt, er, chewing tobacco shushed me, spraying his collection of PVC pipes in warm, brown spittle.
I've seen steady beads of sweat run down my forehead, drip off my brow and land on a tiny black and white TV screen, until I wiped it dry long enough to zoom in on an approaching beaming beauty queen.
I've huddled with chums in the breakdown lane as men in Smokey Bear hats held up a tarp to block our view of head-on collision victims. 'Cause, you know, we're always putting dead bodies on the air around here.
I've wrung-out jungle-flavored flop-sweat from my third shirt of the day as an on-air partner remained dry and fly under the strain of my reflector and his necktie. Strange get-up for a water safety story.
I've baby-sat dying live trucks outside amphitheaters as sunburned citizens rushed home to watch digitized glimpses of the very fireworks shows they just saw spread across the heavens. Never understood that.
Yes, I've hauled glass to (and from) every Independence Day cliche that's out there, even made up a few new ones along the way. All the while I've chortled and bitched about double-time not being enough to ease my freedom, and if the schedule I read on my way out of the office of Friday is correct...
I get to do it all again this year. Happy Fourth of July!