Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Rain Man

2007 began just as 2006 ended,,,,, wet. God if there is one thing I hate about the winters here in Vancouver it's the wet.
Moisture can be a camera guy's worst enemy. It can fog up your lens and viewfinder. It finds its way under your rain gear and worst of all it finds it way into your boots. There is nothing worse than wet feet, well except maybe, cold wet feet.

One of my first assignments back was the annual Polar Bear swim. It rained hard just before the thousands took the plunge into English Bay. But I had my foul weather sailing gear on so I stayed dry for the most part. My colleague on the other hand, well he might as well of joined the swim as he seemed soaked to the bone.
It is a condition we are becoming all to familiar with. Lately we have been battered with high winds or heavy rain or both at the same time. These conditions make it hard for you to get excited about your shift. Couple that with my 7AM start time this week, Oh did I not mention, I am not much of a morning person to begin with, and you can see the wet week was shaping up to be one I just wanted to end.

The forecast was for rain, rain and more rain,,,,, Biblical Rain. Of course you know that will mean the dreaded "Nasty Weather Story", and Tuesday's nasty weather story began just the way all of the others have before it.

"Murman, can you check out the flooding on the road,,,,,,,,"

One of the things about living in a rain forest is you know where all of the flooding hot spots will be. You might as well go park and wait for the fun to ensue.
That place is actually not far from my home, at the foot of Schoolhouse, in Coquitlam. Its at the bottom of a mountain and intersects with a major provincial highway. The traffic there is always busy. Add 6 inches of rain and oh boy we have a story.
The water collects in two low spots and in no time you have lakes that are waist high. The city closes the street, but it is such a well traveled route that either people think their cars are amphibious or they can't read. Either way, every shooter in the lower mainland knows that this is the place for pictures of motorists stalling out and stranding themselves in water up to the windows. The people who work at the Wendy's and the Cactus Club watch and cheer as people ignore the road closure and take their chances. Some like I say, get themselves stranded and wait for a tow. Most of the time it's funnier than hell. In the past people look at us with our cameras and they expect us to jump in and help. Fat chance.
This location has everything. There's a Wendy's. The parking lot there is on high ground and provides a great place to park. If you are going to be there all day, it's also handy to have hot food so close by. Across the "pond" ( street) there are business that will always give you a clip about how the city need to do something about this. One poor business owner, must be tired of seeing us, but he always invites us in as he sandbags inside his building.
It's one stop shopping, and with my storm gear on, I am dry.

But this day was to be different. As I am shooting the umteenth vehicle trying to navigate the Schoolhouse sea, along comes this Jaguar. Oh ya, this will be good. Some 4 wheel drives have been having a hard time, this should be funny.
In comes this fellow and his Jag, talking on his cell. He gets about halfway and that's as far as he gets. He's dead in the water. I'm rolling and so is my colleague Gary. How we ended up with two cameras here I don't know but our reporter appreciated it. Anyway, we are both rolling away. A large semi comes through, making a wake that proves to be too much for our stranded man in Jag. The car is tossed around like a float toy in a bath tub. Geez a Jag is a pretty expensive float toy. This went on for a few minutes.
Buddy in the car rolls his window down, and looks at me and asks for a tow. Then he tells me he is having chest pains and his arms are going numb. I can't just sit there and watch some guy have a heart attack in front of me , I have to do something. I give my camera to my Reporter and tell him to keep rolling. I jump in. When I get there the man's look in his eyes are of panic and fear.
" I am having chest pains, I was trying to drive myself to the hospital".
"OK, Please stay calm."
We Call 911.
Now I am feeling bad about laughing just a few short moments ago. I push his car to the shallow end of the pool. This way when emergency crews arrive, they will not have to get their feet wet.
Gary jumps in to lend a hand, when we get him out, we just try to keep him comfortable.
When the emergency crew arrives, they take over. I return to my camera and roll more tape.
Now I am soaked up to my hips. But what was I gonna do, nothing?

Just when I thought I had seen it all. Here's hoping for a January dry spell.

1 comment:

turdpolisher said...

Thanks for being a human being.

I know lots of photogs, mostly still guys, with high and mighty standards that wouldn't allow them to participate in a news event. You did the right thing.