As a journalist, it’s good to be approachable. After all, we talk to people for a living, and all that face-to-face time creates for us a modicum of pesudo-celebrity that we learn to live with. Folks feel obliged to introduce themselves to their favorite news cutie, no matter where they find them.
As a photog, I only have to deal with it when I’m out in public with a hunk of lensmeat on my arm. Everyone has a story to tell, and we are the people they’re gonna tell it to — RIGHT NOW. Whether we like it or not. I suppose it’s one of those hazards of working in television.
This week’s chance encounter over an Arby’s roast beef sandwich stands head and shoulders above the rest in the “Did He Really Just Tell Us That” category.
My reporter and I had paused from a hectic day chasing the Denham Springs glitterati. Someone had done something that somebody found offensive (or at the least in poor taste) and of course it was our job to expose it to the greater capitol region.
The exercise in inanity included tracking down people who either knew nothing of the events, or knew everything, but had no desire to air their soiled delicates for the world to see.
It was well past 2pm when our stomachs could take no more, and we made great haste to the nearest fast food that wouldn’t turn our arteries to concrete. The idea was to cram some roast beef down our necks and hit the streets for another dose of rejection.
I was ear-deep in my large Arby’s #1 when he approached. Bib overalls, dingy t-shirt, and a Git-R-Done ball cap with sprigs of gray peeking out around the edges. No doubt, the good ole boy wanted an autograph from my dinner date. It happens. You get used to it.
This living Jeff Foxworthy punchline walked straight up and stared me down like I had stolen his woman. Then he extended a hand and waited for me to drop my lunch and shake it.
He wanted to talk the ugly side of the camera?
My reporter was as surprised as I was, but I offered him my hand and introduced myself. He cut right to the chase. “Men’s Room is out of paper towels.”
That’s all he said. Then he and his wife left the restaurant. I went back to my meal, and my reporter tried to stifle a meat-and-cheese guffaw. Did he expect us to report on this? Or did I look like the custodian?
Either way, I couldn’t call myself a journalist and defender of freedom if I didn’t check it out. After swallowing my last bite, I headed toward the head. There, I found the paper towel dispenser sufficiently supplied. You don’t think he meant . . . And wait . . . I shook his hand?!?!?! I wonder how . . . It’s probably best I don’t over think this one.
I guess that’s the price of fame when you have a name like Turd.