Friday, May 7, 2010

“Help me Mr. Wizard!”

Have you ever been stuck in an embarrassing situation where you just wish that Scotty could beam you up out of there or get a little help from Mr. Wizard?

While driving around looking for a feature picture on a slow news day a police call came across the scanner concerning a man perched up in a tree with a rifle near an elementary school. There’s nothing like the possibility of getting a spot news photograph that get’s one adrenalin flowing. Arriving near the address, I was stopped a deputy, whose car was blocking access to the scene. After a few minutes, he told me it was not a guy armed with a rifle, but someone up in a tree with a rope around his neck threatening to jump. Still, because of the nature of the situation, the officer explained that I was not allowed near the scene, but if I wanted to back up and drive down his neighbor’s driveway, I could possibility get some good shots from that location.

Sounding like a plan, I backed up, pulled over at the entrance, grabbed a camera with a 300mm lens attached and quietly positioned myself behind some bushes that offered a protective view from the police and a front row seat to the developing situation.

About thirty or so feet off the ground, standing on a tree branch, was this guy with a yellow rope around his neck and drinking coffee from one of those “Big Gulp” containers. Apparently he was pretty despondent over the fact his wife had recently left him and he was in the process of being talked out of ending his life by a suicide prevention officer.

A few minutes later, he happened to look over at my direction, and from his birds’ eye view spotted me. Yelling at the top of his lungs, “Hey photographer, do you really want a good picture, get ready!” Knowing my cover was blown and peering through the bush I could see deputies looking my way. Having already gotten a few good pictures, should I stay or leave? Just to make matters worse, I next heard from a half dressed woman leaning out of the upstairs bedroom window asking me what I was doing in her yard? When her husband appeared and asked, “what in the hell are doing with a camera outside our bedroom, as the situation was starting to get way out of hand only thing I thought of saying was, “I’m from the newspaper and your neighbor, Raymond, is up in a tree with a rope around his neck. “

Now taking the attention away from me they both left the driveway widow and as I quickly retreated to my car, I heard the balcony door open with the husband yelling at his neighbor, “Raymond, what in the hell are you doing up in that tree?”

Remembering a childhood cartoon, I thought, "There's no place like home"and wanted to desperately call on Tooter the Turtle’s friend, Mr. Wizard and request a transfer to anywhere and quickly. As I got into the car I’d cry out for Mr. Wizard to rescue me; and with the words "Drizzle, Drazzle, Drozzle, Drome, Time for this one to come home" I safely departed the area and safely arrived back at the newspaper a few minutes later without any police cruisers in hot pursuit.