Doddering old fart comes to mind while perusing WaPo Gene Weingarten‘s latest column. The Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist walks us through the pitfalls of road journalism. Gene paints a bleak picture of all the things that have gone wrong for him in his travels to get a hot story. For example, while on the road to interview a dying man, he lost his rental car. He didn’t just LOSE his car, though. He forgot which car he was driving. He says, “I had not happened to notice the make, model, color or size of the car I had rented, and the key in my hand offered no clue. ” Let’s get this straight. While this man was DYING, Gene was looking for a car that he had JUST driven and parked and now didn’t know where it was. That says a lot. Some people lose their car keys, Gene misplaces an entire car.
Another example is the problem Gene has with plastic room keys. During one hotel stay, he was told to keep the key away from his cell phone. I’ll let Gene pick it up from here. He writes, “In the ensuing four days, I had to get my key reprogrammed six times. Initially, this was done with commiseration, then amusement, then belly laughs, and finally wordlessly and expressionlessly, as the clerk attended to other business. I had become one of her chores. ” It’s happened to me before, too. Once. Not six times in four days.
One final example Gene tells us is about taking a bizarre shower in a hotel room. Everyone picturing him naked now? Mission accomplished. He recalls stepping out of the shower and not feeling very clean. What’s the matter? Not enough mustache shampoo? (That’s a thing, right?) Turns out, Gene just forgot to take the wrapping off the soap and washed himself with a bar of soap wrapped in plastic. In other words, he acted like a giant, hairier gorilla in a hotel room.
Every reporter has stories like this from their road travels. I’ve never spoken to anyone with SO MANY boneheaded moves on the trail. Congrats, Gene! You’re a modern-day Mr. Magoo.