Unexpected mishaps overshadow the big city scene

Mike Linn

I grew up in a city that harbors more than 1 million people, requires an hour to get from the southern end to the northern tip and has more scenes than a Star Wars trilogy.
There’s the punk scene, the surfer “howly” scene, the hillbilly “darn wind too strong for squirrel huntin’ ” scene, the yuppie “like my new Mercedes?” scene, the “I was the high school stud turned bar-hopping car salesman” scene and a cascade more of every description.
So a few weeks ago when my editor asked if I wanted to go to the diverse, big city of Albuquerque to cover a football game I embraced the offer like a whining baby does a pacifier.
Little did I know then what I had gotten myself into — a short weekend of comical mishaps and misunderstandings.
The first of such misunderstandings occurred in the Valley High School press box shortly after the game, where one high school official told the photographer and I: “Sure you can use the press box to write your story and send your photos, just turn off the lights and lock the doors on your way out.”
Evidently he forgot to tell the local security guard what he told us, because no more than 10 minutes later the lights in the press box went out and not long thereafter the guard told us the police were on their way to lock the gates.
“They told us we could stay and finish up,” I yelled to the guard who was in a golf cart near the field.
“Who told you you could stay?” he asked.
“He didn’t give a name, just said we could stay,” I said.
That answer didn’t suffice, and we were on our way to try to find a hotel where we could e-mail the photos and story.
At this point it was 10 p.m., and we had plenty of time to find a hotel and get a story and photos to our editor before the 11 p.m. deadline. Right?
Wrong.
The first hotel had no rooms (the weekend of the New Mexico State Fair), but employees at the hotel said we could send our copy via the hotel desk telephone line.
After 20 minutes of piecing together notes from napkins and my trusty notebook, the photographer notified me the phone line wasn’t working and it was time to leave.
At this point we were back on the interstate, racing time in an out-of-shape Nissan Altima looking for a cheap motel to beat a 20-minute deadline looming like a hail storm over a cotton crop.
The second hotel obviously had vacancies because a family of 10 was at the hotel lobby intensely shopping for rooms like a disgruntled boyfriend in a flower shop.
Needless to say another 20 minutes of waiting ensued, and by the time we got a room and sent the photos my story was 10 minutes late — and counting — and a blank computer screen was staring me down, seemingly laughing at the events that had transpired and placed me in such a crisis mode.
Forty-five minutes later, two phone calls from my editor, several stress-induced fist slams on a nearby table, some kind words about a faulty computer and we were finally done.
But by this time it was almost too late to check out the scenes of the big city. Whether it’s anything like Jacksonville, Fla., I’ll have to find out at some other date.

Mike Linn is managing editor for the Portales News-Tribune. He can be contacted at 356-4483, ext. 33. His e-mail address is:
Mike_Linn@link.freedom.com