In our business, there are consequences for failure. This was mine: I got to do a live report on a tree.
True, the tree had dislodged from its rootwork on a hillside in DeKalb County. It had the good fortune, from the perspective of the news, of falling across a roadway during a thunderstorm.
That morning, I exited the morning editorial meeting assigned to a story that produced a series of unanswered phone calls and emails. It was Friday, after all.
Midday, I was sitting at my desk, high and dry. A home invasion robbery / person shot story called my name.
Dan Reilly and I drove to Stone Mountain in a live truck. The details emerged. It was garden-variety mayhem, of the sort we thankfully avoid at 11 Alive News.
But I’d failed again. I couldn’t / wouldn’t try to “sell” the story. Maybe if I’d done so, I wouldn’t have ended up in front of a tree.
A couple hours passed. 5pm brought storms. Somebody in the weather department got a little excited, which had a contagious effect among certain decision makers.
The manager who caught my eye had a hint of evil in his smile. “There’s some bad lightning in Gwinnett County. Try to get there for six.”
Traffic was a bitch. It was not only Friday rush hour, but there was bad weather. We spent thirty minutes traveling eight miles.
We exited Chamblee Tucker Rd. At 5:45 we started to look for a place to alight. There was rain, but the storms had passed.
Dan had WSB radio tuned in. “There’s a tree down on Presidential Drive near Chamblee Tucker and 285.” The voice was Doug Turnbull’s. I knew Turnbull when he was in high school. He and my kids were pals.
The road was two blocks from us. There we went.
There I stood, talking about a tree.
“It’s an oak tree,” I began. I had a tree, but very little other material.
My live shot ended quickly, and we wrapped our “coverage.”
It gave my punishment, on a Friday evening, a measure of mercy. Nonetheless, it was a reminder of why failure is a very poor option in my line of work.