Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You can ask.

As much as I joke and laugh and really enjoy the heck out of what I do for a living, it's never very long before I'm reminded of just how heartbreaking my assignments can be.

You've heard me complain about how slow it's been at work. With all the training days I've covered, it just hasn't felt like I've been a part of anything major lately.

That changed on Tuesday. My most recent trainee and I were sent to back up the crew covering developments in the Taja Jones story.

Taja Jones was a woman who had been missing for several days. Her body was found on Tuesday in her car near Culver City.

At one point between liveshots, friends of Taja Jones arrived at the scene. They were pointed out to me and I grabbed my camera and rolled a couple of shots from about half a block away.

Again, it was a training day, so I passed the camera over to the trainee and followed followed him along with the reporter over to the edge of the crime scene.

Other crews were right behind us and we all kept back a bit.

I can't remember the specific story when I last saw grieving family members. The memory fades because I move on and leave it behind me. It's not my intention to diminish anyone's tragedy, but sometimes there's no point in trying to hold on to memories of events I witness.

I remind myself, I'm not directly involved. It's not my tragedy.

Even though I say that, plenty stays with me whether I try to remember or not.

There's just no getting past this part of what I do. As tough as it is, I absolutely have to put my feelings aside at times at work.

When I'm behind the lens, I point the camera and frame the shot to record the events that happen. I do that to the best of my ability. It has to be about the truth of what happens and not what I personally feel should or shouldn't be seen on the news.

We set limits on what's appropriate, but for whatever reason this falls within those limits.

I felt a tight knot in my own stomach watching the two women and the man. In her grief, one of the women started shaking and needed to be held up to keep from falling completely to the ground. She continued sobbing uncontrollably and gasped for air.

We couldn't even air some of the things the man yelled out. I think I'd be yelling out the same things (maybe worse). They took turns holding each other and said a few things to us on camera. I'm thankful for that. They didn't have to.

I don't ask the question anymore asked most often by people in their grief. Even if they catch whoever committed the crime; even if the whole story comes out. There's never going to be a motive or an explanation that justifies the loss suffered.

I don't mean to offend. It's a matter of faith and you can ask Him, but I've never once heard God answer the question.



Angry in L.A.-Shannon said...

I've worked as a social worker a probation officer and therapist for several years. I guess I've seen my share of tragedy. You are right. You try not to internalize the stories of those victimized..but unconciously I think it can wear on you. At the least it changes your view of the world. I used to have a saviour complex. I thought I would be an instrument to fix everybodies problem. Now I know if anyone is gonna be saved they are gonna have to save themselves. The most I can do is listen.

beFrank said...

shannon - All we can do is all we can do and sometimes that is enough. Everybody helps in some way, but thanks for making it your vocation.

I'm thankful people like you can and will help others.

Michael said...

Power stuff.

It shakes me too.

Take Care

turdpolisher said...

thanks for your blog.

i've been shooting for 16 years. during that time i have become what i do. your insights and heart-felt words always remind me that it's just a job, and i have a family at home.

keep up the good work.

Pat M. said...

I found this site only because I knew Taja.

Thanks for the write-up and acknowledging the strength and power of her work family to -- at least a little bit -- make sure Taja is not invisible.

Pat M.

Shawnita said...

I am the young lady you spoke of that had to be held up. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your consideration of my grief and respect of Taja's memeory. I also appreciate everything the media, especially 2 and 9 did to help us find her.I lost my bestfriend that day and it doesn't matter how many questions we ask, I'll never get her back.
Shawnita Jenkins

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am an old friend of Ric's. Could you please pass on my email address to him?