I used to be a news reporter. Click this for one of my most compelling stories.
I kind of looked like this:
When you are a reporter, you are at the whim of your editors. It’s really great. Like this one time when an editor sent me to a standoff in the middle of the night.
I was pretty thrilled when I got a call at 11 p.m. from an assistant night editor explaining that a man was in his house with a handgun and a standoff was in progress on some county road in the middle of nowhere, but that they were unable to get any information from the sheriff’s dispatch, and would I mind driving there and checking things out. It really wasn’t a request.
I got into my car and drove to the dark road, parking next to a few TV news vans. No law enforcement was in sight apart from the empty sheriff deputy cars parked in the driveway. The house was set back from the road and trees obscured its view.
I got out of the car and approached a newscaster, asking first for his autograph and then if he knew what was going on. He didn’t.
I called the newspaper back telling the assistant night editor that no one was around except for TV broadcasters who knew nothing.
“You can’t see any deputies?” she asked.
“Okay, hold tight. We have about a half-hour until deadline. See what you can get and call back.”
I didn’t quite know what to do so I stood in the same spot and looked at a house I couldn’t see.
The cell phone rang.
“Anything yet?” she asked.
I could hear her talking to someone in the background. She got back on the phone, sighed, and asked if I could go up to the door, knock and see what was going on.
What a fabulous idea! Why didn’t I think of that? I could just see it in my head. I’ll walk up the darkened driveway, bang on the screen door:
“Hello? Hi. Yes, you with the gun, I’m from The . . . and we have a really tight deadline so we need to speed things up here. If I could first just get your name?”
“Could you spell that?”
“Great, um. . so what are you feeling right now?”
“Sir, I’m having a little trouble understanding you with the sobbing. Could you say that again?”
“Oh you’re depressed. Yeah that’s not very descriptive. Could you say why you’re depressed?”
“How do you spell her name?”
“Do you have a contact number for her. I’d really like to get her side in this. Sir if you could just keep that gun pointed at your head, not at me.”
Easy, right? But for some reason my feet stayed on the road.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’m going to do that,” I told the assistant editor.
“I didn’t think so,” she said. “Just stick tight until deadline and you can go home.”
So I did. I stood in the same spot, looking at a house I couldn’t see, waiting out the minutes. Nothing happened and I drove home.
I found out the next day, the man wasn’t even at the house.