Smile


“You think any dogs have peed on this rock?” I asked Karen, our Sales Coordinator, as we leaned against it, wrapped in a large grey blanket on the grass in a park recently at 2:45 a.m. awaiting the arrival of hundreds of cyclists on an otherwise calm and quiet night.

“Yup,” she answered.

Neither one of us had planned our evening this way. I knew the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie cyclists were going to be arriving overnight in Pincourt but somehow had it in my mind that it would be at 1-ish so I got there much too early while Karen and her boyfriend arrived only to see what all the fuss – and all the campers – was about, and like true comrades, stayed to keep my husband and I company.

There’s a certain stubbornness that kicks in when I’m waiting for something. Much like extended stints in emergency rooms or walk-in clinics, the longer I wait, the more I’m determined to stick it out lest my time investment is all in vain.

Any preconceptions I’d ever had about journalism being a glamourous job were alleviated while I was still a student and landed a small contract with a national investigative journalism program who needed someone to stake out a suspected murderer at his east end Montreal apartment and, if possible, get a photo of him. Accused of stabbing his girlfriend in a Central American country with which Canada had no extradition treaty, he reportedly bribed police and officials to come home and escape a trial and was making his living locally as an artist.

A mom driving a silver Toyota was, essentially, invisible making me perfect for the job – a job that was one of the most boring things I’ve ever done. But after getting photos of the building, the directory in the lobby, and the surrounding streets, I duly drove out to scope his ‘hood three times a week. The upshot was an impeccably clean car as I whiled away the time wiping dust, sorting receipts, and generally tidying up. When the said killer finally left his warm apartment, he was so bundled up that I wasn’t even sure it was him but I got my photos and happily headed home.

By the time the program aired, the family gathered around the television to watch and while I had been paid a token amount for the work I did, I was more excited to see my name in the credits as a ‘field researcher’ as I’d been promised.

But as the credits rolled, I was nowhere to be seen.

“It must be because you blended into the background so well,” my husband joked.

While some photos are the result of being in the right time at the right place, many, if not most, others are chance events punctuated by extended bouts of nothing.

And, like any reward, they’re more satisfying if the effort expended in obtaining them is directly proportional to their quality. Like most life lessons learned, the messier and more uncomfortable, the longer they stay with you.

I’ve long ago learned to carry boots, socks, extra footwear, and blankets in my car along with the umbrellas, tripod, and monopod. But as of last Sunday, I’m now including a small pillow just in case I have to catch a nap in a park before the photo op arrives.

“Think there’s a column in this?” Karen asked as she pulled the blanket closer.

“Yup.”

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