Newspeak

Today is my last day as a journalist.

Sad, I know. But I’m moving over to the political world to be the Deputy Director of Communications for the Borough President. So I’ll still be dabbling in journalism (making headlines instead of writing them).

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the blog. I may repurpose it based on my experiences in my new job. I’m sure I’ll have a ton of stories to tell!

But until then, I will leave you with this last post about how news has infiltrated every part of my life:

I’ve written a little bit about “newspeak,” or how we talk in news. We make up words and terms all the time. And they have become so much a part of me that I end up using them all the time, even in non-news situations.

For example, a word I learned in the news biz is “efforting.” Now, “efforting” is not technically a word. Effort isn’t a verb, but we made it one. Basically, efforting means that  you’re trying to set up something. So we’ll say that a reporter is efforting a story on a new program designed to help the homeless. It means that the story hasn’t exactly been set up yet, and it may or may not come through.

At first, I hated the word efforting. I was annoying that we made up a word where there didn’t need to be one. We could have said “trying to set up” or something. But eventually, efforting entered my lexicon, and now I use it nonstop. I currently use it in situations that have nothing to do with news. If I’m a bit tired, I’ll lay in my bed and say I’m efforting a nap. If I see a cute guy, I’ll think to myself that I’m efforting a date with him. Despite my initial dislike, efforting turned out to be one of my favorite words.

Another similar term I use all the time is “possible.” We don’t really use the term possibility, we use the term possible, or for short, poss. You might be efforting a poss story to put cameras in a park where a lot of crime has happened. In real life I’ll look at a menu and decide which item is a poss (I guess that would mean I’m efforting my dinner?)

A different weird term I’ve taken on is “I’ll fix it in post.” For those not in the know, this means that you will fix whatever problem is happening after you film in by editing it. I have begun to use this in a totally non-filmic way. This began one day when I took a shower and then decided to take a nap with wet hair. If you’ve ever slept on wet hair, you know that it doesn’t usually dry in an aesthetically pleasing way. In fact, my hair tends to take on the shape of whatever pillow I lay it down on. As I was drifting off to sleep, this occurred to me, but I thought to myself, “I’ll fix it in post.” Meaning that I would have to work some magic on my hair when I woke up. Since then, I have used it for all sorts of things (usually having to do with having to do something to my face, hair, or body to make it look more acceptable).

I’m sure that despite leaving the news business, I will still use these terms, as well as many others in my daily life. You can take the girl out of the newsroom, but you can never really take the newsroom out of the girl.

Crazy Callers, Part 2

CALL #1

Racist Lady: I’m in a nursing home in Staten Island, and I need your help. There are Arabics working here. When I was younger I was abducted by an Arabic and forced to marry him. I luckily escaped from him but I know these Arabics are out to get me.

Me: Have they done anything to threaten you?

RL: No, but they will, because they are Arabics. All Arabics know each other. I can tell they are out to get me.

Me: But they haven’t done anything to hurt or threaten you.

RL: No, but I can hear them talking in their own language. I’m sure they are talking about me and what they’re going to do to me.

Me: Ma’am, if they haven’t done anything to you, we can’t do anything to help.

RL: But they’re going to get me! I know they are plotting!

Me: Maybe you should change nursing homes.

RL: I can’t. They will find me there too. Arabics are everywhere. You need to help me.

Me: We can’t do anything to help you. If you feel like your life is in danger, you should call the police.

RL: Okay. I’ll call the police.

 

CALL #2

(This took place the day after New Year’s Day)

Garbage Guy: I’m calling because I didn’t get my garbage collected yesterday. You didn’t say anything on the news about garbage collection being suspended.

Me: Sir, yesterday was a holiday. I’m pretty sure they don’t collect on New Year’s Day.

GG: Well there’s garbage everywhere! No one told me there wasn’t collection.

Me: They never collect on holidays. Hold on, let me check.

(Within five seconds I googled and found that garbage collection had been suspended the previous day)

Me: I just checked. There was no collection yesterday because of the holiday.

GG: Well, you didn’t say that on the news!

Me: I’m sure we did. We always announce that stuff. Maybe you just missed it.

GG: No, that’s not right! You didn’t say it! And now there’s garbage everywhere! Next time you have to say it!

(The guy had started screaming by this point…so I decided not to tell him that it’s not the news’s job to tell him when to put out his garbage, and that he could have checked himself by looking it up)

Me: Okay, thank you, goodbye.

Cry into your pillow

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with my coworker. She was having a particularly bad day…on top of a particularly bad week. I was trying to cheer her up.

“You know, as you’re crying into your pillow tonight about all of this, you can at least take some comfort knowing that this is one of the best experiences you’ll ever get in this industry.”

She laughed at that. But it’s not just funny–it’s true.

I say this as someone who isn’t a big fan of crying–in this job, you need to cry. If you don’t, you’ll probably kill yourself or go into serial killer mode or something.

That being said, there’s a time and a place for crying. And 99% of the time, it’s when you’re alone at home.

There are a few exceptions. If a story hits particularly close to home, I think it’s okay to shed a few tears. I’ve discussed this with my coworkers and came up with a few instances where we cried:

  • The only times I’ve ever cried at a shoot was at 9/11 memorials. This wasn’t so bad because everyone around me was crying too–including other photographers.
  • A coworker told me she cried covering a cop’s funeral, because her dad is a cop. But luckily she hid the tears behind big sunglasses (I need to remember this for 9/11 next year).
  • A coworker told me she cried doing a story about Osama bin Laden being killed because it brought back old memories for her. She ended up being really embarrassed about it because it happened during a one-on-one interview with a 9/11 victim’s family member.
  • Another coworker cried a few days after Sandy…and was comforted by two women who had lost their homes. The picture of him bawling made it into the Daily News, and of course is now famous in our office.

I think these were all instances when it was completely okay. I also think if you’re crying at work, you should try not to do it loudly or grossly. I try not to draw any attention to myself when I cry. But I have heard of “journalists” who start bawling all the time at nothing, and I think that’s crazy. You’ve got to be tough–at least outwardly–when you’re on the job.

One of my coworker always gives me a tip on how to cope with stressful situations at work. She always laughs, because as she says, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”

So I laugh. A lot.

Crazy Callers, An Ongoing Series

When I first started working in the field, a coworker gave me a great piece of advice.

As we were sitting in our office in Staten Island, the phone rang. It wasn’t our extension. It was some weird line that had a 718 area code.

I went to pick it up, and the coworker stopped me.

“Don’t pick that up,” she said.

“Why not?”

She shuddered, “That’s the tip line. I never pick up the tip line.”

Turns out the number is the one that plays after our segment airs. Anyone can call in. But half the time, the people are actually certifiable. You never know what psycho has memorized the number and decided to call in.

Recently I’ve been filling in as a researcher, which means many things, but mostly that I have to pick up the tip line. It is literally part of the job description.

So, I have decided to do a series of posts about all the crazy calls I have received while picking up the tip line. Here’s part 1:

CALL #1

A few days after Paul Walker died, we were running a story about the crash investigation. A woman called our tip line (which specifically plays after the Queens, Staten Island, and Bergen County news) about the story. The conversation went like this:

Crazy Lady: I saw that the guy from the Fast and Furious died. Which guy was it?

Me: Paul Walker.

CL: The bald guy?

Me: No, the other guy.

CL: Which other guy?

Me: The blond guy. The other main character.

CL: Oh, so not the bald guy?

Me: Not the bald guy.

CL: Oh because I thought it was the bald guy. They showed the picture.

Me: They showed a picture of Paul Walker.

CL: Okay. How did he die?

(By this point I wanted to scream “DIDN’T YOU WATCH THE STORY???” but I remained calm.)

Me: A car crash.

CL: Oh yes, that’s right. It’s terrible. Can you give me more details about that.

Me: I’m sorry, I didn’t cover that story. I only know what we’ve covered.

CL: So you don’t have any more information.

Me: No, we’re getting all our information from national news sources. You can look it up on CNN if you’re interested. It happened in LA and we’re in New York, so we’re getting everything from national sites.

CL: Oh, okay. It’s such a shame. I really liked that guy who died.

(I wanted to yell “YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHO HE WAS FIVE SECONDS AGO” but didn’t)

CALL #2

Insane Woman: I just saw a story about a cop that was arrested in Staten Island. What was he arrested for?

Me: Extortion.

IW: I left my young son in daycare on Staten Island today. I’m worried that he’s in danger from the cop.

Me: Well, the extortion took place in Queens, so you really don’t need to worry.

IW: But what if the cop is still out there? And dangerous?

Me: Ma’am, he’s been arrested.

(I wanted to add that extortion doesn’t really pose a physical danger to young children)

IW: So in your opinion, should I go pick up my son from daycare?

Me: He’s not in danger from the cop. The cop isn’t on the street anymore. He’s been arrested. He’s in court right now.

IW: Okay, if you think he’s safe, I won’t go get him.

CALL #3

Me: Hello, how can I help you.

Whacko: I’m in the hospital and they aren’t serving me tasty food. The food is absolutely disgusting here. It’s inedible. I told them I won’t eat it, but they keep bringing it to me and I said I won’t eat it but they don’t stop. I wanted them to bring me chicken but they brought me some slop and I have diabetes and this is not food and I hate it. I hate the food here. I’ve been here a week and the food is awful and I can’t even eat it.

(He went on for about 5 minutes without taking a breath, but I’ll spare you for now)

Me: I’m sorry, there isn’t anything I can do.

Whacko: Okay (hangs up)

The Doctor Is In

Sometimes in my job, I get to meet celebrities. Usually, they are D-listers.

Last week, I filled in producing an interview show. The producer told me that one of the guests was Dr. Ruth, the famous sex therapist.

I didn’t think much of it. Of course, I told my parents, who were excited for me. But they were alive through the entire ’80s, and I wasn’t, so Dr. Ruth’s appeal was a little bit lost on me.

I got an email the day we were supposed to tape the show that Dr. Ruth was taking an earlier train back from a trip to Washington DC. She wanted to come to our studios early to get out of the cold and sit and make phone calls.

Even though this meant I would have to go into work two hours earlier than I had originally planned, I said yes. To be honest, I was annoyed by the entire thing.

When Dr. Ruth arrived, the first thing I noticed was that she was tiny. I towered over her, and I’m only 5’4. She’s probably no more than 4’9, if that. She immediately greeted me (in her signature German accent), “Hello Allison, nice to meet you,” and then thrust her bag and coat into my hands.

As she walked in, she gave me a list of demands. She wanted to know where the bathroom was, where she would be sitting, and if she could have herbal tea, a sandwich, and the NY Post, in that order.

This all added to my annoyance. I sat her down, asked her what kind of sandwich she wanted, and went downstairs to buy one.

When I came back up, she was on the phone. I laid down the sandwich and tea, leaving the room quietly. When I returned with the Post, she was off the phone.

“This is the best sandwich I’ve ever had! Did you pay for this with your own money?” she asked.

“Yes, but I’ll expense it through the company,” I responded.

“No! I don’t want you paying for me! Did you pay for the newspaper?”

I explained to her that we got newspapers delivered to our office daily, and reassured her that I wasn’t paying for any of it. She kept alternating between thanking me and insisting that she would pay for whatever she had taken. And then she asked me for about five more requests, but by this time I didn’t take offense to it. Even though she wants a lot, you can tell that she’s a nice, friendly old lady.

I went back out to my desk after getting her what she wanted, but every so often she would come out and ask me for something else. She wanted to see the video of her that we were going to use. She wanted her manager to email me material to print out for her (she doesn’t know how to use a computer, but I did note that she had an iPhone). She wanted me to put pillows on her seat in the studio so she could be eye-level with the interviewer. And every time she would emerge from the room to ask me about something new, one of my coworkers would see her and talk to her, or ask for a picture. She gladly posed for every single one (including one with me).

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When it finally came time for the interview, I walked her back to the green room. By this point, she had another bag, filled with things that people from my office had given her.

“You’re really popular here,” I noted.

She smiled and said delightfully, “It’s good to be Dr. Ruth! So many freebies!”

I could see why. There’s something about her that just lights up–and makes you want to give her stuff.

In the interview, she shone. I even laughed out loud when she started talking about sexual stuff. At 85 years old, she’s so full of life and energy.

On her way out, she thanked me again for everything I had done and made sure to tell my coworkers that I had shown her a good time and taken care of her.

As she walked out the door, she said, “If you don’t get the money for the sandwich, I’ll send it to you!”

And you know what? I bet she would.

Stalking Whitney

I remember the moment I found out that Whitney Houston died.

I was sitting in Applebees in the Staten Island Mall. This is particularly strange because I eat at Applebees about once every 3 years. And I almost never go to the one in the mall. But I was hanging out with some friends from high school that I hadn’t seen in a while, and they wanted to go there.

My phone pinged, as it usually does every 45 seconds, and I looked down at it.

“AP reporting Whitney Houston is dead at 48,” the email said.

I was shocked. I mean, yeah, I knew about her issues. But I didn’t expect her to die.

I told my friends, and we chatted about how sad it was for a bit. But I thought it would end there.

The next day, I was working with our New Jersey unit. Even though we have the words New York in the name of our station, we cover parts of Bergen County, NJ. Weird, I know.

The thing about our Bergen unit is that there is almost no news to cover. A big story is a water main break or a car robbery. So I figured I’d have a nice quiet day–maybe I’d cover a farmer’s market or something.

Turns out Whitney Houston’s mother, Sissy Houston, lives in Bergen County.

I drove to Edgewater and found Sissy’s building, all while listening to Whitney’s music blaring through the car radio. I could tell I was in the right place, because there was another news van parked outside. But the apartment complex looked deserted.

So for about an hour, I waited outside the building. During that time, only about 3 people went in or out of the building–and I could tell by looking at them that none of them were related to Whitney.

The whole time I felt kind of sick to my stomach. I don’t know how the people from TMZ do it every day. If I did encounter Sissy, what was I supposed to say? Sorry about Whitney, but do you have time to comment about it to your favorite local news station? I really loved “The Bodyguard”…so how do you feel about your dead daughter? Do you think she was lying when she said “crack is whack”???

After waiting in the January chill for over an hour, I was finally cleared from the scene by our assignment desk (the news truck had left as well–I guess no one talked to Sissy that day). I went down to a local shopping center and interviewed random people about how they felt about Whitney’s death.

I was glad to finally go home at the end of the day, mentally exhausted and physically frozen from standing outside for so long.

Even though I never got the interview, I have become famous around my office for my attempts to chase down Sissy Houston. In fact, many of my coworkers refer to me as “the girl who got the exclusive sit down,” even though I didn’t. They like to tell people she picked me over an interview with Anderson Cooper or Katie Couric. If only.

But I guess I could be known for far worse things.

Checking My Phone, or How I Gave Myself ADD and OCD

First, I’d like to thank everyone for all the comments about my Sandy posts. It meant a lot to me that so many people took the time to read them and give me such positive feedback.

But now…on to other stories!

If you ever see me out in the field, or anywhere really, chances are, you’ve noticed that I look down at my phone.

A lot.

This is because I’m constantly getting emails. I get over a thousand every single day. It’s pretty nuts.

Now, most of the emails don’t pertain to me. But many of them do. So I feel the compulsion to check them. Constantly.

Even when I’m not working, like today, I go through and see if any of them are important or interesting. I can’t help myself.

Before I started this job, I was never like this. I was always super focused on the task at hand. I looked at my phone at the end of the day, or maybe between classes. Even when I got a smartphone during my senior year of college, I only took it out of my bag if I heard it ringing.

But now? Not having my phone attached to my hand gives me anxiety. Recently, I took a couple vacation days. During this time, I went to get my hair straightened. The process takes about 3 hours, which meant 3 hours away from my phone. I could feel myself missing important texts and emails, and as soon as my hair was finished I was digging around in my bag, making sure I hadn’t missed anything important.

It hit me after that how ridiculous my phone addiction is. I mean, I was on vacation. I had no responsibility to check my emails. If anyone from work texted or called me, they would just have to wait.

But I can’t help it. I usually stop in the middle of whatever I’m doing every few minutes to look at my phone and make sure no emails or texts have come in. The fact that I’ve written this much without stopping to grab my phone is a feat in itself, and I’m currently itching to click the home button as I write this.

This whole thing makes it hard to focus on anything. I like to tell people I have a homemade case of ADD and OCD. Knowing that at any time, an important message could be lurking means that I can’t really focus on what I’m doing.

Other people have begun to notice this about me as well. In my family, we used to have a firm “no electronics at the dinner table” rule. Now it’s become more of a “put your phone on silent so we don’t have to hear that email noise every five seconds” rule. Whenever I go to a movie, I like to take bets about how many emails I’ve gotten during the time my phone was off. My friends have gotten fairly good at guessing the number, which is usually around 150 depending on the length of the movie. Depending on breaking news, it could be an even bigger amount. For example, I flew to Las Vegas the day Ed Koch died, and when I got off I had around 700 emails waiting for me just about him.

Some who don’t know me as well are disturbed by the amount of times my phone goes off. A friend recently told me seeing all the emails on my phone gave her anxiety. One time I was out with a guy and he got jealous because he thought I was getting texts from another boy. I explained about the emails, but he didn’t seem to buy it.

The moral of the story is, if you’re with me and I’m looking at my phone, I’m not being purposefully rude. I have an addiction–one there’s no rehab for. But at the end of the day, at least I know that I’m more informed about what’s going on in the city for having read all the thousands of emails.

Sandy, That Bitch: Part 4

By now you know the ending of the story. Most of Staten Island lost power–some for up to a month.

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Hundreds lost their homes.

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24 people lost their lives.

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It felt so weird that neighborhoods I had hung out in my whole life looked like war zones.

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There were days when I didn’t think I would be able to face it. But part of me knew I had to. It felt right, sharing the stories of those who had lost so much.

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As for my car, we found it several days later. It floated from the back of the parking lot, over wooden spikes, across four lanes of traffic, into a ditch. When we opened up the glove compartment, water fell out.

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We did manage to rescue my tripod and a camera case. I still use the tripod, to this day.

They kept the car in my office parking lot for about 8 months after the storm. The bottom fell out, and the sides were bashed in. It was a daily reminder that I almost died.

As for me? I had pretty bad PTSD for a while. The worst was during the immediate aftermath, when I was staying at my grandparents’ house. I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. Once they got cable back, I watched the news obsessively, even though I was living it. A tree had fallen on their house, but was resting against the roof. One night, it moved, which made it feel like an earthquake. I woke up screaming.

I also tried to volunteer, but seeing all the donations and the people helping out gave me a panic attack, so I had to go home.

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I considered going to therapy, but then it mostly went away. It still comes back sometimes though. Just the other night I had a nightmare that my house was unstable and about to collapse.

But even though there were so many bad things that came of it, I also saw so much good. People from all over the country came to help the victims. Neighbors helped neighbors. Strangers helped each other. Donations poured in by the thousands.

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Even though there were bad things, there was so much that made me feel so good. And so even though Sandy was clearly the most traumatic thing that ever happened to me, it made me a stronger, better person.

So when I look back on that day, a year ago, I can still hear the transformers blowing and the power line sizzling. I can see all the dust and dirt and mold. But I also feel the goodness that came after–the human spirit that can never be knocked down.

Sandy, That Bitch: Part 3

When we got to my boss’s house, we realized there was no power.

I haven’t mentioned yet, but it was cold. This was at the end of October. For reference, several days later, it snowed. So we were freezing.

But it was nice to be inside, even if the wind was howling and we could only see by flashlight.

My boss asked me if I had called my parents. I hadn’t. This is particularly weird, since I am very close to them. But it was literally the last thing on my mind.

I called them and reassured them that I was safe inside with my boss and her family and the rest of our crew.

After we got ourselves settled, we went upstairs to talk with my boss. While the reporter filled her in on what we had seen, I entertained her kids while eating their Halloween candy. When one of the kids got too close to the window, I would try to distract them by calling them over to tell me something. No one wanted to say the truth, which was that the winds had gotten so bad that a tree could easily fall right through the picture windows in their living room and kill them.

Soon, I was tired. It was only about 10 at night, but I felt like it was 4am. I fell asleep on their couch, wondering how I was going to get home when my car was still at the beach and probably wouldn’t start.

At 1am, the truck op woke me up. The station wanted another live shot, and we were the only crew left in the field with a working truck.

So I trudged down the stairs and went outside. It was even colder now, and the winds hadn’t exactly died down.

My fingers were shaking and my teeth were chattering. I kept going back into the truck, using the excuse that I had to charge my cell phone. But the truth was, even in my sweatshirt and raincoat and rain-pants, I was cold.

It was about 2am when they finally said they would take us. We could hear the station through our earpieces. They were taking a phone call from one of our reporters, who was in City Island. From the sound of it, she was watching the storm through a hotel room window.

“They’re taking a phoner? While we’re freezing our asses off?” The reporter screamed.

I felt the same way. Finally, they took us. I wondered who was watching, since most everywhere seemed to be without power.

In our live shot, the reporter noted that we had gotten word that a teenage girl had died.

I immediately assumed she had been one of those stupid people walking out on the boardwalk during the storm. It was sad, but if you do something stupid, you risk the consequences, right?

I found out later that her name was Angela. She was 13. She had been in her house, when the water came up to the top floor. She and her parents huddled together, holding each other, until the house was completely swept away. Angela and her father died. Her mother miraculously survived by holding onto someone’s porch for several hours.

Their house once stood next to the beach, but was now gone completely. The houses next to theirs had stood, but only because they were made of concrete. Only the concrete slab that held the stairs was left…leading to an empty pit filled with debris.

But I didn’t know that at the time. I thought poor Angela was just being an idiot.

After the live shot, I went back upstairs and immediately fell asleep. I woke up several hours later, noting that my phone had died.

The truck had gone to another part of the Island to continue news coverage. The reporter had also left. I didn’t have to be back in until 4pm.

My boss and her husband offered to drive me home. We don’t live far apart–maybe 5 minutes. But the trip took a lot longer because there were trees down everywhere and no traffic lights.

I hadn’t talked to my parents since the previous night. I honestly wondered if they were still alive. We always lost trees during big storms. I had no way of knowing what I would find when I got there.

But thankfully, when I arrived at home, my parents were outside assessing the damage. I ran to hug them. I couldn’t believe I was so lucky.

We had lost part of our roof. A tree fell, thankfully away from the house, crushing the hedges. If it had fallen in the other direction, it probably would have gone through a window.

I sat in my bed, sort of explaining to my parents what I had seen. They tried to calm me down. But I couldn’t listen. All I could do was rock back and forth, in a state of panic.

There wasn’t anything I could do. But I would have to go back out, at 4pm, and see what had happened.

Sandy, That Bitch: Part 2

We ended up at a gas station. People were still filling up their tanks. At the time I thought this was stupid (which it was, because who fills up their tank in the middle of a hurricane?) but later I realized that they would have the last laugh during the gas crisis that followed Sandy.

The wind had gotten to be so intense that even a mile from the shore I felt like it could knock me over.

We went up to people in their cars and started interviewing them about why they were getting gas. I could feel the camera shaking. When we got back in the truck and replayed the feed, the reporter yelled at me about how shaky it was. I didn’t say anything, because I was altogether too terrified of what was happening to fight with him.

A few days later, he later had me retell the story to a coworker. When I mentioned the conditions, he softened up, and noted that maybe he shouldn’t have yelled at me, considering I was filming handheld during the worst hurricane to ever hit New York City.

Anyway, back to my story. The weirdest part of Sandy was that there was no rain. In my experience, hurricanes meant rain. A lot of rain. During Irene we had seen significant flooding–all caused by rainwater.

But there was no rain. Just strong winds, which picked up surrounding debris and made you feel like you were being pelted and pricked with tiny rocks.

Nearby, there must have been a major transformer. Every few seconds we’d hear a loud pop that made all of us jump. And following the pop, we could see power in nearby stores going out.

Then there was a loud bang, and the carwash in front of us lost power.

That’s when we decided to move again.

We drove down local streets, turning when we’d reach flooding. It was dark out, and the street lights had gone out. But I could still see cars submerged in water…sometimes reaching up to the windows.

I’d point them out with detached wonder. It was if I didn’t realize that these cars belonged to actual people. Or that if the flooding had taken out cars, that it would surely have infiltrated houses as well.

But it all came crashing down on me when we drove by a local hospital. There were fire trucks stationed in the road, blocking any cars from driving down from where the water was edging up towards Hylan Boulevard–the main drag about a mile inland.

That’s when a man came up to us, frantically screaming about his uncle, who was trapped inside his house. He was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get out. He begged with us to help him.

There was nothing we could do. We told him that. We told him to talk to the firefighters and EMS workers who were just feet from us. He said they told him there was nothing they could do.

As we drove away, we all made excuses as to why we couldn’t have helped him. And we were right. If we had done anything, we probably would have died as well. But there was an unspoken thought on all of our minds–that the man who was trapped inside his house would probably die.

A few days later, we heard reports of divers finding the body of a 67-year-old paraplegic in the neighborhood. When we heard, the reporter and I looked at each other, knowing that while we couldn’t have saved him, we both felt somewhat responsible.

Shaken, we headed inland once again. We parked next to a small puddle in a deserted parking lot. We were trying to figure out what to do next when we heard the crash.

A power line had been severed by the strength of the wind. It came down, hitting the puddle. Even through the sound of the truck, which was still running, you could hear it sizzle.

In that moment, I decided to leave my last mark on humanity, as I was sure that I was about to die. I sent out a goodbye tweet.

It said, “I love you all. Goodbye.”

Later, I found out one of my friends read it, and she was sure I was dead.

While I was tweeting, the reporter was shouting to the truck op, “Get us out of here!”

And to his credit, he did what he was told.

We raced up Todt Hill, to the safety of my boss’s house. Suddenly, I felt okay again.