I've been here before. Hundreds of times. Too many times. And contrary to a lot of folks who don't understand what we in the news business do for a living - and why - it's not my favourite place to be.
A youngster had been hit by a car. Maybe his fault, maybe the driver's. At this point it doesn't matter.
I was there to take some pictures and put together a basic narrative about what had happened.
In the old days, I would have snapped a few pictures, got the name of the police officer who would conduct the investigation, and then headed back to the office, getting the details later, in time to send the newspaper off to press.
And although the "old days" weren't all that long ago, even in dog years, the fact is that they were a long, long time ago, in technological terms. Now an important component of the "paper" is electronic, and goes to press immediately - stories now appear on our website literally minutes after they happen. As always, I was careful to stay out of the way of the people who were there to what they could for the stricken lad.
I need my pictures, but they come first. I believe that what I and my colleagues in the news business do in situations like that saves lives... but in the long term. We hope that, when you read your newspaper (or visit our website) and you see something tragic like this, it reminds you that this sort of thing can happen to you, too.
Or it can happen to someone you care about. You need to be careful out there.
But what the first responders do - the police officers, the firefighters, the ambulance paramedics, and yes, sometimes the BC Hydro linemen or other specialists called in to help - matters immediately.
Their lifesaving efforts work on time frames literally spanning seconds.
So I kept my distance from the action. But there he was.
There always seems to be one of them, usually a police officer, sometimes a firefighter. It was one of the firefighters, this time, watching me with obvious disdain.
He sent over a subordinate to shut me down. "No pictures," he said. His voice was not gentle.
"I'm with the newspaper," I said. And he backed off, and I entered into brand new territory. A few moments later, when he
finally had a few to spare, he came over to me and politely apologized.
"I didn't know you were with the paper," he said.
Wow. No one in that position had ever apologized before,
and I didn't quite know what to say, except, "That's okay. No problem."
It's not like I wear a uniform or a fire helmet or something.
He mentioned something about "looky loos" and how he really didn't like how some people morbidly take pictures of grisly scenes... well he didn't say all of that, but it was clear that was what he meant.
And I agreed with him. But he also appeared to realize that I'm not out there to take pictures for my morbid curiosity - nor for yours, for that matter.
You have a right to know that bad things like this happen, and you have a right to know what the dedicated members of the emergency crews you pay for are doing.
And then, because someone was obviously paying more attention to the kid on the ground than on the road ahead, we all heard a thump.
And one more looky loo got a lesson in the correlation between unfettered morbid curiosity and rising automotive insurance rates. By the way, the kid's not out of the woods, but he's going to make it!
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