An awkward moment

My illustrious career as a TV reporter has been chock-full of awkward moments. Here’s one you may appreciate. It centers on a question posed to me by a state trooper in McRae, Georgia some years ago.

McRae is a town best known for its delightful reproduction of the Statue of Liberty. A conscientious trooper with the Georgia State Patrol pulled my vehicle over after claiming that it had exceeded the speed limit.

He began to question me. What are you doing here in McRae? he asked, as if it was any of his business.

I explained that I was driving my children to southeast Georgia to visit Cumberland Island. Sir.

What do you do for a living? he asked.

I hesitated. Some people hold lifelong grudges against the news media. If this guy was one of them, he could throw me into jail and put my children into DFCS custody.

I’m a TV reporter in Atlanta, sir. I started to squirm.

His eyebrows shot up.  And he asked a question that’s pretty impossible to answer:  Oh yeah? What kind of reporter are you?

Of course the question made no sense. What he wanted to know was:

Are you the kind of reporter who noses around into stuff they shouldn’t?  Or are you the kind of reporter who makes the police look bad?

The honest answer was yes, I occasionally nose around into stuff that some people — perhaps even police officers — would prefer stayed out of the public eye. And yes, when police officers do things they shouldn’t, it’s absolutely one of the type of stories I would tell in a heartbeat. So that’s what kind of reporter I am.  Most of us are like that.

But I didn’t give him an honest answer. Instead, I said “huh?”

Then the awkward moment shifted back to our conscientious state trooper.

You’ve got some fine lookin’ young uns, he said, viewing my two kids strapped into the car. You’re probably one of the good reporters.

I sure am, sir, I answered. He wrote me a warning instead of a speeding ticket.   My well-timed “huh?” kept me out of trouble.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

…with thanks to WXIA photog Richard Crabbe for lending his eye and re-enactment skills to this piece.
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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

6 thoughts on “An awkward moment

  1. JimmyD

    My first run in with Georgia Law Enforcement happened when I moved here 25 years ago when I’d driven into Atlanta to pick up supplies. Having only been here for two weeks, I still had an out of state tag and registration.

    First question he (APD officer) asked was to see my registration and insurance card…”my what?” I replied. I honestly had no idea what he was talking about. The state I came from made you have a years worth of insurance, bought and paid for, before they’d sell you a tag, so I’d never seen an insurance card in my life.

    The ensuing five minutes of “who’s on first” hilarity was probably a lot more fun for the trooper standing on the side of the road (who apparently knew that I didn’t need an insurance card) than it was for either the APD officer or myself.

    Finally, the trooper spoke up, and explained that I didn’t need an insurance card yet.

  2. Angela Sinton

    I was born and raised in McRae, Ga. Upon graduation from GSU, which in South Georgia is Georgia Southern and not Georgia State, I moved to Atlanta. Considering both places my home I must say…Doug Richards, you are dang lucky you did not get a ticket. Don’t you know we locals have a line item in out city budget for you yankee speeders from Atlanta?

  3. DG

    We’re proud of all out law enforcement in this area, and if you don’t do anything wrong then you won’t get stopped.

  4. Mr. Bear

    I’m seeing a career opportunity here, that of reenacting amusing moments. If they can dress up for Civil War / War Between the States events, why not others? We’ve already seen the great pig chase, sans pig, who apparently had artistic differences with the director. Surely, there will be more? Think of the potential. So, the next time you need a cigar chomping balding white guy, give my agent a call. I have plenty of wardrobe choices and can speak redneck.


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