You had to be there

Given the industry I work in, and the kind of job I have, there seems to be at least one big, tense situation each year where things go absolutely nuts.

A few years ago, an 18-wheeler filled with paint caught on fire on I-20 right under 45, shutting down the entire area, right at the beginning of afternoon rush hour. Last year it was a warehouse fire in downtown Dallas where canisters shot out of the place and landed onto the nearby freeways. Earlier this year was the death of a police officer riding in Hillary Clinton's motorcade near downtown Dallas.

Well, today an 18-wheeler slid down an embankment coming off of 35E northbound and onto 635 eastbound. Catching fire, it was a mess for hours. There were many road closures in the area, smoke flew across the highway, the trailer portion was stuck up in the air and split in half as the fire kept going. Quite a sight to see and report live, I must say.

Whenever this stuff happens, I tend to go into lockdown mode without going nuts. Covering breaking news can be a thrill, and frankly, one that's hard to translate to others after the fact. It's like being in the middle of a violent storm and trying to cover all the major developments.

But I find it a little deflating whenever I ask somebody I know about one of these big situations and they hadn't even heard about it -- making it seem like this wasn't a big deal at all. Hearing this doesn't make me want to do less of a job in the future. Rather, it's just understanding that not a lot of people are going to experience the whole rollercoaster ride -- or even want to know about the ride at all. The same can be said for so many other things in life.

Strange to say now, but I think it's hard to translate how big a movie like Star Wars was to a generation raised on the Matrix and Lord of the Rings trilogies. Same can be said with describing to a teenager raised on mall emo how life-changing seeing the Promise Ring back in the late Nineties was. Is my experience greater and the younger person's experience lesser? No, but I think there's a challenge in describing how big something is in the moment -- all while trying to make sense in hindsight. As easy as it would be to say, "Eh, you had to be there," I see this as a chance to dig deep and try to explain exactly the who, what, where, why and when.


Todd Carruth said…
I have people ask me all the time about a traffic issue that happened in the afternoon the day before and they are always disappointed when I say, "huh?" (although I did know about this one....)