I am currently sitting in a McDonald's in Chino, California, where it's about 152 degrees outside. I've been in a corn field all day doing live shots on how companies like Monsanto are investing big money to genetically modify crops so they can withstand drought.
Chino is best known for its dairy farms...and, well, you really can't appreciate the smell of the place until you've been here. The flies are so numerous they have their own Congressional district.
Here's what you don't see on TV. The live truck and the cameraman arrived on scene about 6 am this morning. They set up on a road near the corn field (public property). I arrived an hour later--that's what reporters do. We're late. I immediately declare that the shot looks "terrible"--that's another thing reporters do. They're late AND they want to change everything at the last minute. I insist we move all our equipment down into the corn field itself (private property) even though I don't have a clue who owns the place--a third thing reporters do--we flaunt the rules. I figure we'll just get lucky. Yes, that's what reporters do, too. No wonder people hate us.
Anyhow, I help pull a couple hundred feet of cable (most reporters don't do that but time was tight) and we get all set up right in the middle of the corn--the live shot is going to look great!
And then. One minute before I go live, cameraman Bill Sims says, "Don't look now, but coming up behind you is the farmer. And he has a pit bull." "You're joking," I said. "Wish I was," he replied.
Ok, this is not the first time I've trespassed--it's also what reporters do--but the pit bull was a new twist. So as the farmer approaches with a "who the hell are you" look on his face, I say a short prayer, put on my biggest smile and say, "Hey there! This place yours? It's beautiful!" That slowed him a bit. And as the seconds tick ever closer to my live shot, I quickly tell him why we're here and how lucky we are "to have found this place." There is a moment of silence as he looks at me, I look at him, while I hear in my ear the CNBC director back in New Jersey say, "coming to you next." And then...the farmer says..."Cool." That was it. He turned around, and he and his pit bull walked off. We haven't seen them since.
Too bad the flies didn't go with them.
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