Monday, January 24, 2011

Power to the people

Instead of finishing up a boat race story or tracking down St. John Flag Football League results, I spent my afternoon hanging out with vicious counter-culture folk who refused to take "No" for an answer.

Boss handed me a camera and told me to get over to the Territory Legislature Building to document the different unions protesting outside of the State of the Territory address.

Then it hit me: "Did I go to college for this?"

I wasn't in the mood to re-analyze life decisions so I just grabbed the camera, put on my sunglasses and moseyed toward the action.

'The action' was a group of about 50 unorganized people holding illegible signs doused with thin, colorful markings that represent words. Who the hell set this up? Then I see some lady -- she said she was an elementary school teacher -- in the backseat of a car recklessly writing messages on the signs with markers she stole from her school.

So let me paint a picture here: I saw a school teacher misspelling words on protest signs that called for the government to give the teachers' union a raise. Classic.

"Take a picture of my sign -- I want this on the front page of the Daily News!" they yelled at me over and over again.

"Your wish is my command," I answered. "Whatever you say, I will do. No questions asked."

The response from a goofy white photographer confused many of them so they just fell back on holding up their signs to passerby motorists and asking them to honk their horns in some pathetic sign of unity.

I didn't understand about half the protest messages nor did I care. The news writer assigned to the story tried to explain the different qualms each faction had with the Governor but I lost interest and asked him when he would be done writing so we could go grab some drinks.

I like Governor John P. deJongh. I've interviewed him a handful of times on the phone. Only met him once in person. Any politician that stops to pose for a picture with me during an alcohol-laced chili cookoff is OK in my book.

So I wonder what Tuesday will bring?

Maybe a profanity-riddled phone message from the Interscholastic Athletics Association president ripping one of my stories, or how about a Dominican girl prostituting herself to me with a business card but let's not forget about a drive down a dark street that had been closed late at night because a triple-murder shootout had just taken place a few 100 yards ahead.

It wouldn't surprise me. I've experienced all three of those scenarios in the 10 months I've lived on St. Thomas and worked for the Daily News.

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