Pavlov's Reporters

Thursday, June 5, 2008
A friend was once walking with a large group of his co-editors in the middle of the night. A fire engine drove past, sirens on, and he left his group to walk in the opposite direction to follow the sirens.

I was sitting with a good friend in a diner drinking sodas when the radios of the cops sitting behind us started crackling. We stopped talking mid-sentence to try and hear what they were saying.

Another friend once picked up my phone call and said, before anything else, "I hear the sirens. Where are you?"

I was getting coffee with a friend visiting D.C. when another friend pulled up. "There are police cars all around the Australian Embassy. Want to go?" Of course we did. We got in the car.

We are the reporter's version of the reviled lawyers labeled "ambulance chasers" except we are (slightly) less reviled.

Trained in metro reporting, even after you move on, or are out of your coverage area, it's hard to not follow the sirens.

So, in retrospect, I guess it's not really surprising that when police lights filled my room and sirens woke me from my in-between-sleep-and-wake state, I stood on my balcony to watch. And then, as it became clear there was about to be an arrest, and as the police cars kept coming, I pulled on my sweatshirt, grabbed my press pass, pen, and pad, and walked down the stairs.

It was 3:45 in the morning. There was no paper I could have called even if it was news (it was just a belligerent drunk, in the end). But really, how could I be expected to lie in bed without knowing what was going on just outside my window?

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Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

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