rent the movie with the provocative title, The Goalie's Anxiety
at the Penalty Kick, because I love the concept of the Goaltender
poised for a shot-on-goal.
I was reminded
of the goalie's anxiety when my friend Holly Sweet phoned while
packing her audio gear for Montana, where she would be working
the wildfires for CBS News. She wanted advice on shoes, and
any advice in general about preparing for a fire assignment.
We discussed shoes, batteries, water, chapstick and bandanas.
We considered the dangers of helicopters, the speed of fires,
and whether anybody looks good in yellow and green Nomex (a
fire retardant material).
started thinking about the different anxieties I've had while
preparing for tv news assignments. Once I was trained to do
my job, I never really worried about my shooting or producing
skills. I'm very competitive, and confident that even on my
worse day, I'll deliver. But over the years, I've had other
worries while packing for the job.
the physical challenges: Will I be able to climb a mountain
with my gear? Will I endure the smoke (or the heat, or the cold,
depending). Will I be able to wear my contact lenses for the
first thirty hours?
logistics: Will I find the location, how will I make my deadline?
How late can the uplink truck be, before I start worrying? How
late can it be before I alert someone in New York or Washington
or LA to start worrying? Will I get stuck in traffic if I take
the Big I? (or: the Big Dig, or whatever big roadache is out
winter of 1997, on the way home from an assignment I fell asleep
behind the wheel. After that, I worried: Will I be able to stay
awake while I drive? This anxiety bothered me for two years.
Eventually I felt really sleepy one morning, driving home from
a live shot. I pulled over and slept for five or ten minutes.
Then I woke up and drove home. I've never worried about it since.
worry about finding a parking space or a bathroom. I took care
of that in the seventies, by spending $300 on a program called
"est." It was a self-realization seminar that allowed its captives
to discover the greatness of their bladders. If you missed est,
you can still study great parking techniques by catching a re-run
of "Kojak." He was a master at what est called "creating a space."
On my first
science assignment as a field producer, I didn't know whether
I'd have the background to understand the story. That was an
unnecessary worry. If I don't understand it, the scientist needs
to explain it again. End of that problem.
that really leaves is: Will I run out of clothes. My theory
on that one is: pack lots of panties, and the rest will take
care of itself.
Holly today, to see how the fires went. She said that the first
day of her nine-day assignment was the hardest, and that she
lived in fear of being "the one" who would "crater out." (slang
for being unable to continue). In fact, she survived the climbs
and some dangerous moments and never quit.
to me that women are motivated by the fear of failure, and men
are inspired by the desire for bragging rights. If this is so,
I suppose that as long as I work in tv news, I'll be like the
goalie at the penalty kick: ready, but somewhat anxious.
to hear from any goalies out there: Do you ever experience the
newspuke's anxiety at the starting block?