Waves of weirdness tend to cascade my way in groups of three. Such was the case today. Upon receiving our assignment and learning a wide eyed intern would be accompanying us, veteran reporter Mark Becker and myself waxed poetic about the relevance of Tom Waits in modern society and then we were off...
Today's story wasn't very exciting, so I'll spare you the details. But I did come away with three encounters that should leave you either with tears in your eyes or scratching your head.
1) While gathering some wallpaper video of a store that was robbed last month, I kept hearing this insanely loud crackling coming through my head phones. This noise was actually spoiling my ambient nats! I turned around to discover some guy was selling stun guns out of the trunk of his car. Apparently our presence was cramping his style, because as soon as he realized a news crew was around, he turned to the line of cars waiting to drive up to him, (YES! There was a line of folks waiting to get their boot leg stun guns), and reported to them "Hey people, these shits is the real deal but I can't be doin' this in front of the cameraman... meet me out back." Then they formed a caravan and drove off behind the store. I certainly hope I didn't ruin his profit for the day, I admire entrepreneurship.
2) While searching for what we call MOS sound or, "man on the street", I encountered a man in his mid 70's who felt compelled to tell me every detail of his life. Including but not limited to where he grew up, where he worked, how he met his wife, and even the sordid details surrounding the circumcision procedure he apparently endured at the ripe age of five. The old top even used hand gestures with his explanation. Here's how the conversation went.
Him: "You young folks don't know nothing bout how it used to be. When I was five years old my mama brought me to that hospital to get my, uh, um, whatcha call it?? (motions to his crotch) You know, the skin down there?"
Me: "Your foreskin? She brought you here for a circumcision?"
Him: "Yep! Mmhmm, that's right, that's what it was. A-A-uh-A A circumcision. They cut my foreskin off when I was five. Damn, I memba that just like it was yesterday. Bet you was lucky enough to have it done when you was a baby huh?"
Me: Blinking - Just blinking - 5 or 6 second pause - "Thanks for the interview sir, and thanks for watching."
If this job has taught me anything, it's that some people just want someone to talk to, and they will say ANYTHING if you give them enough time.
3) I'd just wrapped my 6 o'clock live shot and was refueling my live van at the gas station just around the corner from the TV station I work at. It's pretty common to encounter a beggar at this locale, but today's derelict was craftier than most. While I'm pumping my gas, this guy limps over to me. Cane in hand, coughing, the whole 9 yards. "Hey cameraman, can I get 75 cents, I'm trying to buy myself a cold drink." I told him I didn't have any change and apologized - expecting him to mumble something and limp away with his cane. What actually happened was this: The guy stood up straight, cleared his throat, tucked his cane under his arm and said "It's cool cameraman, thanks anyway!" And then he ran off. You catch that? RAN! That's ambition if I've ever seen it. If this guy isn't doing anything with his time, he should seek out a local playhouse and audition for a lead role in something.
Now while my story might not have been the most visual or the coolest of the day, I'd still call this work day a win. How often have you had conversations like these with total strangers?