Your name is Mike Thomas. You’re an elite news photographer of the local variety, a guy who assumed a managerial position at WXIA-TV years ago because of your sometimes breathtaking talent. You’re a go-to when high-profile things happen and the coverage has to be rock-solid.
So it makes sense that you’d get sent to cover the two political conventions, one in Tampa and another in Charlotte. You and anchor Melissa Long spent 24 hours of your lives inside of news vehicles commuting roundtrip from Atlanta to those two cities, agreeably saving the company the cost of air fare. Your hotel space is not exactly in the convention core with CNN and the rest of the bigshot news organizations. You’re in the ‘burbs, but you’re not one to complain.
Good thing. Because when you get to Charlotte, you realize that you’ve got a situation.
The producers back in Atlanta are expecting an abundance of material from you, more or less from the moment you hit the ground. You’ve gathered the video. Now’s time to put it together.
But it seems that the cozy workspace to which you’ve been assigned is actually a cramped and overcrowded nightmare. You try to set up shop, but there’s no room. You could waste a bunch of energy elbowing your way into nonexistent space. Or you can find an alternative. If you’re Mike Thomas, a man who looks thirty but is pushing fifty, your experience tells you to use your available energy wisely, and adapt.
So you find a hallway near the location where your nightly live shots will be. You spot a priceless accessory in a wall — a working electrical socket. You disregard the detritus that flecks the floor around you. You adjust your expectations. You plug your laptop into the wall, squat like Yogi Berra and get crackin’.
Because your space is common, there are distractions. You assume a first-name relationship with the janitorial staff. You barely flinch when FLOTUS walks by with a heavily-armed entourage.
And if the talent strikes what may or may not be a slightly impatient pose in front of you, you multitask: You ease any concerns expressed about your upcoming shared deadline, while simultaneously positioning your cursor — no mouse pad for you! — with your touchpad, grabbing keyframes and making rapid-fire TV magic.
“I covered both political conventions in 2012,” you’ll say for the rest of your life. It’ll sound a lot more glamorous than it really was.
Top photo by Melissa Long, bottom photo by Chris Sweigart.