Thursday, August 14, 2008
Last Thursday and Friday, three interns (including myself), one former intern and Donna took a field trip to South Mississippi for a story. Several stories, actually, but none of them are a part of this story, so never mind. We all split up into three cars, (Donna was with me, mostly, I suspect, because she wanted to road-trip in my Camaro - actually, I don't suspect it as much as I know it because she told me flat out).
Have you ever tried to walk up to strangers in a small Mississippi town and get them to tell you their innermost secrets? No? Wise choice, it's nearly impossible, especially when it's one-hundred one degrees outside and you're driving the least subtle car in the world. Donna said, "I think we didn't think this out all the way." I think they though that we were the shifty, big-city reporters out to make everyone look like a yokel, for which I can't really blame them. It's happened before and it will happen again, so it's hard to convince them that we have no intention of screwing them over.
Then while the boys were off on one project, Donna and I, went off to find a grave. This particular cemetery was in possibly the farthest point from any civilized settlement than I have ever been in my life. I drove on a freaking gravel road. Not a little driveway - a full-on road. There was a horse just standing by the side of the road. No fence, just a little rope around its hoof. I've been sheltered from the deep country as much as I have been from the big cities, possibly more, so I was a bit taken aback. Then we finally park, and it's so quiet I'm kind of freaked out. I look over and Donna, and clearly she understood where my mind was going, and she said, "I have mace in my purse." So make that one more thing that needs to go in the reporter's survival kit.
Which, the more I think about, should really come into actual existence. Perhaps a little welcome gift for the new interns. So far I've got:
1. Rubbing alcohol - For the chiggers. Ask Donna.
2. Comfy walking shoes. - It's best to wear your fancy shoes while interviewing, but inevitably you will have to do footwork, so stash some flip-flops in a bag.
3. A plain black notebook. - See previous entries.
4. At least two pens, because you don't want to be sitting in on the confession of the Man on the Grassy Knoll and have your pen
5. A tape recorder with extra batteries. - See above.
6. Mace. Or a taser, depending on how hardcore you are. - People are crazy, and as a reporter, it's sort of your job to bother them.
7. Granola bar, or snack of choice. - If you're rushing from place to place trying to get the scoop, it's a good chance lunch will not
factor in to the agenda. I actually prefer Little Debbie Devil Cremes.
8. Gum/Mint. - If all your case-making witness can think about is your rank garlic pizza breath, you may miss out on the story.
9. A lighter. - In case your source needs to light up to calm down. Plus you never know when you'll have to destroy evidence to
keep the other papers off your tail. Am I right?
10. Digital camera. - While it is important to take pictures of the sites and people important to the story. It's even more important to
take funny pictures of your fellow travelers when they're sweaty and gross. I'd post them here, but I have better uses for them.
Anyway, the rest of the trip was good. No one died, and we got to eat at the infamous Mammy's in Natchez, which is in the shape of a black maid. Mammy's, I mean, not Natchez. As one might suspect, there was a lack of racial diversity in the restaurant, but they did have pies with meringue about six inches high. I'd give it a seven and a half for the food, and about a minus twelve for sensitivity.
- A restaurant called Mammy's huh? It's a shame that such a place still exists in the 21st century.
- Ironghost, the jury is still out on this one. Rev. Warren admitts that he made an error in assuming that McCain was in a "cone of silence" during Obama's period with him. This acknowledgment by Rev. Warren gives the appearance of foul play.
- If you can believe it, L.W., it used to be called Black Mammy's. According to my aunt, a man built it as a gift for his wife to use as a tearoom. I think I prefer flowers as a token of love.
- Lauren, I really enjoyed this slice of a roving reporter's life...who knew...very interesting & funny, too. Hope you never have to use that mace, but glad that you have it.
- This is great. This was a very fun, and sobering, road trip. It captured both joy and woe. Thanks, Lauren, you red-headed wit. ;-)