My last workday of the year and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it involved a tragic event.
Start of my shift yesterday and I'm at the station (on time) and I had just parked my microwave truck. I was about to grab a book. Well, you know that's how my days have been shaping up recently.
The cell phone rings and I get hit with an assignment. Drive down to the LAX courthouse and cover an arraignment. The assignment desk is going to page me with the details.
I'm kind of grumbling because I live less than five minutes from LAX. By the way, I believe we just call it the LAX courthouse, because it's next to the airport. Parts of the Tom Sizemore court case was held there and I think parts of the Robert Blake trial were also held there. It's been open a couple of years, but I've never covered a story there.
Anyway, we don't get much notice on these things. Had they known about it, I'm sure they would have just sent me from home and saved me the long round trip to Hollywood.
So, I get to the courthouse and of course the guy has already been arraigned. I'm lucky though and I get a dub of the arraignment from another photog (who got a dub from the photog who had actually gotten there in time). Somehow it becomes a pool footage situation. Don't ask me how. I'm just happy to have the tape and didn't waste the drive over.
By this time, I've also finally gotten the story. It's the arraignment of the guy from a shooting that took place over in Westwood on Monday. The guy had gotten into an argument at a restaurant, leaves, but then drives past to shoot the guy he was having the argument with. He takes a shot, but misses the guy he was aiming for and hits another guy in the head. The man hit was hanging on, but it doesn't look like he's going to make it.
I'm disgusted at the callous disregard for human life and I'm at a loss (again) to make any sense out of this incident. I'll hope and pray for the victim's recovery, but there was a press conference with his family members and it doesn't sound like they expect him to recover. The reporter who was assigned this story was at the press conference (at the West Los Angeles Police Station) and would need the arraignment tape. So, I'm back on the road again. I have the assignment desk page me with directions, because I don't think I've ever been to this police station. That's an odd thing, but I get the address and drive over. I help with one liveshot as soon as I get there and offer to cut a package for the next liveshot. The photographer working with the reporter would normally handle the editing, but he's feeling under the weather and I know he'd do the same for me.
One more liveshot and that's a wrap. No breaking news for the rest of the evening, so this was the last assignment for me for the year. I put some miles on my newsvan and covered an assignment that felt like a real news story. I pitched in and helped another photographer. My adrenaline was pumping a bit and we put the story on TV.
Was it a good day for me?
No, I don't think I'd ever be able to say a day where my assignment involves lives ruined is ever going to be a good day.
It's true, I don't know and didn't meet the people involved, so there's only so much I'm really going to feel. The thing is, I don't need to be directly affected to feel something.
I'm just at a loss, because I want to understand how this kind of thing can happen, but I'm not the kind of person who would walk away from an argument and come back later with a gun.
Yeah, I'll never understand it. All I can do is just go to work and put these stories on TV and hope someone realizes that there's nothing to gain from this kind of violence. The details change, but the facts always include that lives are ruined all the way around.
So, I can't honestly say it was a "good" day for me. I just did my job (happy to do it) and I have to take stories like this in stride. I don't need to let it get me down, but actually feeling good when this is part of my job isn't in the cards either. I had a great year and I hope you did too.
This? Well, this was just another day at the office.