The day the blizzard came

Snow removal in the 'burbs

Nothing really went the way I planned it to go Tuesday, but it was an interesting day to say the least.

I was supposed to go to Highland Park to cover a story about that kid performing in the Grammy band, but my editor mercifully called and told me not to go. I knew the weather was going to be bad, but I still probably would have gone if he hadn’t called because it would have been my last chance to interview the guy before he left for LA and I needed the story to pay my car insurance. Still, it turned out to be a really good thing I didn’t go because I grossly underestimated the power of this snow storm, and I experienced some unanticipated car trouble.

My editor from Hinsdale called me early in the morning and asked me to get some video and do a story about grocery stores in the area, since everyone and their mother was stocking up on essentials before the “blizzaster” began. I called a local grocery store and also a regional chain, and I can tell you there was a big difference between those two. The local store owner answered the phone when I called and while he declined being on camera himself, he told me I could come film inside the store. The owner of the chain store asked me to call the company’s corporate office, which I did, and I was handed on to three different people. I had to leave a message with the last person, who didn’t get back to me until the following day when it was too late. To be fair, it turned out I’d been directed to still the wrong person, and I was given the appropriate contact info should I ever need to seek permission for an interview with them again.

When I left the local grocery store I got back into my car to move along to the next part of my assignment. That was when I realized my car battery was dead. Not only was it dead, but it was dead for the second time in two weeks when it shouldn’t have been. Anyone who has worked with me knows I am infamous for leaving my headlights on and killing my battery at least once every four months or so, but both these recent times that wasn’t the case. Alas, my days of leaving headlights on have caught up with me and the battery I only bought in March of 2009 has come to the end of its life. Luckily a guy in the parking lot gave my car a jump, but advised me not to shut my car off again until I was either home or in the parking lot of an auto shop.

I went to a local park I was asked to get video of next. I left my car on and hurriedly shot video of the area from within 50 feet of my car and sped off again. That was when the corporate office for Walgreen’s, the third place I’d contacted, called me back to give me permission to take my video camera into the local store and interview a manager. I thanked them and spent all of five minutes in Walgreen’s, shooting video and interviewing furiously, my car running in the parking lot all the while. Lucky for me, no one in Hinsdale stole my 2004 Cavalier during that time and I rushed home.

I got home just before 3, and twenty minutes later it was almost a complete white out. I heard later that people getting on the road around that time got completely stuck in it and weren’t rescued from their cars until several hours later.

I edited the video that evening and it ran first thing the next morning. It was an exciting assignment, although I could have done without the added drama of my car troubles.

I got some bad news Tuesday morning in regards to my work for the paper. I guess there was a big budget meeting and as a result of cuts, the video-of-the-day project I was so excited about was taken away. I am trying not to dwell too much on the loss of a job I never really had and just focusing on regrouping and doubling my other efforts. That’s all I can say about that.

The thing about Patch as a company is, I like it a lot. It’s young, it’s fun and it’s exactly what I want to be doing. I think I would really enjoy being an editor for one of their papers, although that would then mean I’d have to live in a suburb. But it would be a great job with a fun, innovative company I care about. The editors get to post fun things and have random contests with poetry as prizes and they have a lot of freedom in what they do.

Hyper-local journalism is kind of weird for me, because I know full well any other paper wouldn’t see a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary as something newsworthy, but what’s so bad if Patch does? Maybe we are pandering to our audience, but they’re the ones coming to the news site. Who better to cater to? And it’s not like they’re not also covering hard-hitting news — they’re covering ALL news. They’re versatile, creative, cutting edge and they seem to be flourishing. If hyper-local coverage is the future of journalism, they’re getting at least a few things right.

Anyway, here’s a link to the grocery store piece I did. I am not sure if these budget cuts will mean I get fewer assignments to cover, but I really hope not. I’m trying to stay positive. And warm. There’s like three feet of snow out there.