I need to vent. I figure venting here is at least a little more productive then screaming to myself in the car. So for all of you who don't want to listen to a bitch fest, I suggest you turn the page.
So here goes...
When I see camera, I think, news.
When I see a groupd of people with physical disabilities (including visual impairment) riding bicycles up the steep inclines of Gold Camp Road, I think, inspiration.
When I see a large van with flashing hazard lights following the physical impaired bike riders, I think, safety.
That's what I think. Apparently others in the community don't think quite like I do. And apparently, they think that because I am carrying a camera and driving a news truck, I have to give a shit about what they think.
So by now you are probably asking yourself what the hell I'm talking about. Let me start at the beginning.
I walk into work around nine am and plop myself down at the computer. I've been "one man banding" for a while now, so when our assignment editor hands me information about "learn to race" bike camp for disabled athletes, I'm not suprised. I make some calls and quickly realize that any hope for squeezing a nat pkg out of this is definitely out the window. All week long the campers have been training in places condusive to shooting video: the velodrome at memorial park, the weight room at the olympic training complex. Today of course, they are going on a road bike ride up Gold Camp Rd. For me, this means that unless I have a driver who is capable of chauffering me up the hill while I shoot video out of the back hatch of the truck, my nat pkg hopes are gone.
Now that that is settled, and I've accepted vsv duty once again, I load my gear and head up to the designated meeting area. The first thing I notice when I get there is a large Olympic training center van moving about 2 miles per hour. As I pull up behind, I see that there is a group of about 20 bikers moving just as slowly infront of it. Luckily the driver stops when he sees me, and informs me that the staging area is actually about two miles up the road. He is just moving slowly to protect the riders from speeding cars. Some of the cycles are not bicylces, but hand cycles. They are made for riders with little to no movement in their lower body. He explains to me that these cycles sit very low to the ground and can be hard to see for a driver who is not paying close attention...thus the large white van.
I decide my best chances of getting any good video is to make my way around the riders, find a pull off a little further up the road, and do my best to get enough video as they ride past me. I inch around the car and crawl past the cyclists taking great pains to stay a safe distance away from them on the narrow road.
Once I'm infront of the lead rider, I start a slow acceleration. Considering the age of the car that I'm driving, my acceleration to about 15 miles per hour sounds like I'm jumping off the start line at a NASCAR race. The engine is churning, and obviously working way to hard for the speed I'm going, but when you are the lowest photog on the food chain, you take what you can get.
That's when I hear the first comment of the day that makes me want to stop the car, get out, and tell the woman who is talking to me to shove it! "SLOW DOWN!" she screams, "GEEZ! YOU PEOPLE ARE GOING TO KILL SOMEONE. YOU HAVE NO RESPECT! THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT HERE!"
Ok, so first let me point out that I realize that there are "people out here." I just drove two miles an hour past a group of blind and paralyzed bike riders...at this point, careful is my middle name. Second, let me point out that I was going under 15 miles an hour on a road where the speed limit is 25! Thirdly, and this is the last thought that I had time to formulate before my next encounter with an angry neighbor, I have complete respect for people using the road for recreational purposes, and I don't appreciate telling me that I don't, when she knows nothing about me!
Moving on. I make my way up the road, find a nice pull-off, and get my camera ready to go. That's when angry neighbor number two pulls up. Something in my eyes much scream, "Please come bitch at me and tell me about all your problems, before you insult me to my face!" That's what I feel like sometimes... anyways, I digress.
Mr. Neighbor, as I shall refer to him for now on, stops his SUV in the middle of the road. As he is rolling down his window and waving me over, my only thought is, "I hope this is quick so I don't miss my only opportunity for some semi-decent video." I walk up to the truck and prepare myself for an earful.
"Let me tell you missy. You work for the news don't ya!?! Well, let me tell ya... what they are doing here is shameful. Awful. They should not be on the road. Someone is going to get hurt trying to avoid them. They need to find someone else to go."
I interrupt with, " Well Sir, I don't control where the bikers decide to ride, but this is a popular road and I'm sure they aren't the only people on it today."
"I know! That's just my point! Someone is gonna get hurt. People come speeding up and down this road, on their bikes, and in cars... not looking where they are going. People are going to get hurt! They should be banned from this road. You want a real story. You know what you should focus on?"
I want to say, "actually no sir, I couldn't give a shit what you think my story should be about." But I don't. I nod, and let him keep talking.
"You should focus your story about how dangerous this little experiment on biky riding is... and how the neighbors want them gone."
At this point I notice that the bikers are coming up over the hill. This is the only chance for video that I am going to get, but how do I respectfully step away from this ornary old man? I point to the bikers and tell him that I need to get this video. At that remark he respectfully tells me, " You have no idea what you are doing. You are missing the bigger story! You a stupid for passing this up. Dumb girl!" And then he rolls up his window, and is gone.
I'm left standing there, fumbling with my camera. I miss the shot the money shot and have to settle for vid of the slower riders who arrive a few minutes after the pack. When I'm done with my interview and climb back in my car, I finally realize how pissed off I am.
First beef... why does a camera on my shoulder make you think that you can speak to me with utter disrespect. I would not scream at you if you had a camera on your shoulder. I would not call you stupid. No, I wouldn't think twice about doing that... probably because I learned when I was about 3 about the Golden Rule. Treat people the way that you would like to be treated. No, I wouldn't call a stranger that I barely knew stupid, because I wouldn't like them to do that to me.
Second issue... When you see me standing with my camera shooting video, why do you think that you know better then I do, what makes a good story. Do I come to your place to work and tell you how to do your job? No. You want to know why? I don't tell you how to do your job, because I don't know how to do your job! The same holds true for angry neighbors. You have no idea how to do my job, what makes a good story, or what I should shoot... so do me a favor. Don't pretend like you do!
Third concern... Does compassion exist in this world anymore? I mean seriously. These are people with crippling disabilities. Seeing them ride up and down a road that I can't even make it up is inspiring. As moral citizens, we should be encouraging them, cheering them on. I can't imagine the genuine lack of care that must be in the heart of a man who curses them for trying.
So what I'm saying is, the next time you see a photog standing on the side of the road shooting video, don't pull over and give her a piece of your mind. She doesn't give a shit! Don't tell her what to shoot, or how to do her job. She already knows! And if you notice a pack of disabled bike riders attempting a challenge that you yourself would fail... give them a cheer of encouragement.
That is all.