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The Observer, July 29

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If you haven't seen the video that got four folks fired at KARK awhile back, you should look it up online and watch it. In the video — apparently a fictionalized version of the life of an Arkansas TV reporter — one of that channel's now-former on-air folks cusses, talks ill of his co-workers, and gushes about how much he loathes the subjects of his interviews. The Observer can't tsk-tsk too much, given that we've been known to indulge in all of the above, plus other sins we'd not care to mention in print. We never quite got around, however, to immortalizing it on tape as did the hapless can-ees at Channel 4. There, but for the grace of God, go moi.

Downtown earlier last week, strolling to the Federal courthouse to attend a celebrated trial, The Observer thought of that mini-scandal as we passed by the big TV vans idling in their primo parking spaces at the curb out front, ready to go live from the scene. On the sidewalk, next to their respective tripods, the cameramen loitered, waiting for their more attractive and coiffed co-workers to emerge, stand before the all-seeing eye, and legitimize the proceedings. As folks tend to do when there's nothing going on but the rent, they were talking to pass the time. One of the great joys of The Observer's existence is the fact that our job gives us an excuse to eavesdrop — to pass through clouds of conversation and skim off wisps of other peoples' lives.

"They said what we were all thinking," one of the camera dudes said. "We just didn't put it on YouTube."

The Observer doesn't like driving on the freeway much — too few opportunities to observe when the world is whipping by at 65 miles per hour. Periodically, however, we just can't avoid Deathrace 2010, and have to join the mass of humanity moving from place to place at warp speed.

Recently, headed to visit a pal in Levy, The Observer and family were motoring north on I-40. We'd just crossed into North Little Rock, and were coming up to the fork where the exit for JFK Boulevard splits from the main arterial that heads on to Levy, Fort Smith and points west. The freeway narrows to one lane at the JFK exit, and combined with the speed of northbound folks rushing off the long straightaway leading from the bridge, the curve at the fork, and the narrowing, it has always struck us as a particularly dangerous spot.

That day, it was made even more treacherous by the inclusion of an obstacle, in the form of a Clinton-era Pontiac Grand Am sitting directly in the middle of the lane. Luckily, the driver had turned his flashers on, or it might have been horrendously dangerous instead of stupendously, ridiculously, insanely dangerous.

Coming up on the car, The Observer first thought there'd been an accident. As we soon found out, that was not yet the case but likely would be soon. Instead, the driver was apparently trying to decide whether or not to back up and take the JFK exit, and thought that the best place to reach that decision would be in the middle of the one-lane freeway with his flashers on. Let me say that again: He was parked, like a guy waiting for a cheeseburger at the McDonald's drive-thru, in the middle of a one-lane freeway.

Ms. Observer was at the wheel, and she dutifully began coming to a stop behind the moron. At this point, we considered what it would feel like to have her Honda pancaked between the Pontiac and an oncoming tractor trailer rig, and made one of the most intelligent (and loudest) observations of our career. Spouse blew her horn while trying to skirt around said dumbass on the narrow shoulder. At that point, he took off with a screech of tires — but not before flashing a middle finger to show his appreciation to us for having probably saved his miserable life.

We would say they oughta make folks get a license to drive, if not for the obvious.

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