Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A low interest rate

One of the spiffy things about being a journalist is getting to ask nosy questions. Or at least feeling empowered, when I see something that piques my interest, to ask what the heck is going on. I do this, as long as I have a microphone with me, or at least a notebook that says "NEWS" in large letters. Otherwise, I feel like just another schmuck bugging people to know what's going on.

Anyway, the side effect to this is my inability to countenance a lack of curiosity. I don't understand the mindset of someone who - given a situation in which there are barricades, dozens of emergency vehicles, protesters holding signs, and traffic backed up for miles around - goes about his business seemingly oblivious to the scene unfolding around him.

And yet, that was the scene on the bus the other day (and here you thought I was constructing a brilliant-yet-hypothetical scenario), as several people approached the driver to ask a) why the busses were all running so late, and b) why the route had been moved to a different street than usual.

The answer, of course, was that the President of the United States was going to a fundraiser at a downtown hotel (which for some reason necessitated closing a street on one side of the hotel, but not the other). The driver claimed to have no idea what was going on - leading me to believe he either thought he was performing some sort of national security-related function by not divulging his knowledge of the situation, or he honestly hadn't bothered to ask why his route had shifted and the traffic had backed up and the protesters were spilling into the street and there were a thousand police cars with their lights flashing just down the block.

One of the less-spiffy things about being a journalist is feeling the need to inform strangers on a bus when you actually know the answer to what's happening around you.

But there are plenty of would-be reporters out there, and so I let one of the would-be journalists on the bus handle the situation. I thought about giving him my notebook that said "NEWS", but then he got the facts of the story wrong.

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