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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

First Person: Going for a Ride

Let me tell you about my Monday.

First, let's back up for a second.  Monday was the first work day after the long holiday layoff, and I detected a lot of grumpiness.  The vacation was over for many, and it was back to the grind for a long, cold, dark January.  I thought everything was ok at the TV station.  We're a 24/7/365 business, so the holidays are just another day.  In fact, I took my Christmas holiday yesterday.  I'll celebrate New Year's Day on Tuesday, January 12.

I arrived at the office around 2:30 AM.  My assignment was the opening of the new intermodal transportation center in downtown Scranton.  Interesting story.  The public was getting its first look at a $12.4 million bus station.

I banged out my scripts.  Photographer Jason and I got in to one of our microwave trucks, and we pulled in to the bus station around 4:00 AM.  We got there early to scope out the turf, a site survey as we call it.  We wanted a spot where you could see what was going on, but yet, we wanted to be out of everyone's way.  We found one.  Our first hit was 4:30 AM.  No problem.

The COLTS news release said the bus station would open at 5:00 AM.  Well, 5:00 AM came and went.  The building was still dark.  Deserted.  I started to worry.  Did I miss the postponement e-mail?  Did I miss a phone call?

Eventually, several minutes after 5:00 AM, a maintenance worker in a pick up truck arrived.  He didn't have a key.  He mumbled something about a miscommunication about who was supposed to open and when.  A solitary rider showed up to catch a bus.  He waited in the cold.  Fail.

COLTS chief operating officer arrived several minutes after that.  He had the keys.  Lights on.  Building open.  Passengers streamed in.  Warm, happy people.  We were in business.

The bus station got good reviews.  As noted here in the past, I have my reservations.  The biggest is the building is several blocks away from where people want to be, or need to be.  The COLTS people explain that everything is the same, except every route starts and ends here.  The old de facto hub on Wyoming Avenue will still be a stop.

Photographer Jason and I shot a story for our later broadcasts, in between live hits during Newswatch 16 This Morning.  We headed back to the office after our last live hit at 6:30 AM.  I wrote.  Jason edited.  Success.

Shortly after that, the station needed a body to cover the Laureen Cummings Lackawanna County Commissioner inauguration.  I volunteered, so it was in another truck, this time with photographer Corey.  Back to Scranton.  This time, it was the courthouse rather than a bus station.

We got there in plenty of time and set up our gear.  Something didn't feel right.  It didn't smell right.  The dominoes were starting to tumble.

We got video of MS. Cummings taking the oath.  Interview afterward.  She complained about being left out of the transition process.  Red flag!  The story was bigger than we first believed.  As it turned out, quite a mess was developing.  Someone who was supposed to be chief of staff was out.  Strange alliances were developing.  Bad feelings all around.  So much for that tired bit about politics ending after an election and everyone working together for the good of the people.  Politics is alive and well, and possibly going down a bad road.  Working together?  Hardly.

I handed off my stuff to Carmella Mataloni, and she developed it into some nice pieces for our afternoon broadcasts.

Experience shows the following:  When an individual or an organization gets off to a bad start, one of two things will happen.  It could spiral downward and get even worse.  Or, some rational thought could strike like a bolt of lightning, and the powers that be can pull the jet out of the nosedive before it crashes and burns.  I have my theory.

What looked like a routine day turned into anything but.  The plan is for people to enter the county using that new bus station.  I fear more might be exiting.  Stay tuned.