Monday, January 17, 2011
How NOT To Interview
Despite interference from ice, The Running Dream tour has been pretty uneventful. I get where I’m supposed to go, the equipment all works….things go as The Schedule says they should. Until today. Today I was escorted to Booksource in St. Louis, a wholesale retailer that had me sign a gazillion books for stock. The people were nice and everything went great. The Schedule said they would take me out to lunch afterwards, which they did, mindful of the fact that I needed to be back at my hotel by 1:00 to do a live phone interview with Atlanta-based “Americas Web Radio” (rescheduled from last week when no one could get to the station because of the ice). We got seated immediately, placed our orders fairly soon thereafter, and relaxed…everything was going according plan. Then my phone rang. As I clicked it on I noticed the time was 12:00. “Hello, this is Tom from Americas Web Radio, are you ready to do your interview?” “But it’s only—” and then I realized that it was an hour later in Atlanta. The Schedule was messed up! I gave him a quick rundown of the situation, excused myself from the table, and scooted out of the noisy restaurant and into the bar. And then I realized we’d been disconnected. So I hit redial and when Tom answered he informed me that he’d just put me on hold while the host, Lisa, did the introduction. He went “dead” again, and I held on. The bar was suddenly filling with people and was loud, so I went into the small foyer, but groups of people were stompping in in their snow gear and loud voices. Lisa was now on, but I could barely hear her. So I moved into the snow room up front and shivered through a few questions, until loud people started filing in there, too. I ducked back inside desperately looking for a quiet space, all the while trying to discuss The Running Dream with some level of cohesive intelligence. I finally found a back staircase. It was a straight flight up with a “lift” along the side – you know a single motorized chair for people who cannot walk up stairs. The rails of the lift apparatus narrowed the staircase by about a third, and with me standing there passage was pretty tight. Fortunately, nobody went up or down for a while, My open ear was plugged tight with my finger, and it was a strain to hear, but at least I could answer the questions, and was able to talk to Lisa for a whole 10 minutes without interruption. Then big men in parkas started lugging up huge coolers. When the first one appeared I just squeezed up against the lift rails to get out of the way. Then the second guy arrived carrying something even bigger. And the third. And I’m trying to stay out of the way, hear what’s being said, and answer questions without sounding like anything’s wrong. Finally I went the other half of the distance up the stairs, sat on the little chair at the top of the lift to make room for these hulking guys and their giant coolers, and that’s when I saw that the room at the top of the stairs wasn’t an office, but a room with table and chairs—like an upstairs annex to the restaurant—and after the hulking guys left, there was nobody in it. So I went inside, found a corner, faced the wall and hunkered down with my finger in one ear and my cell phone cranked up to maximum volume against the other. For about three minutes it was quiet in the room. Then the sheet metal started arriving. Big sheets of it, boinging and banging around behind me. Now, the whole time I’m answering questions I’m trying to ignore the sound and I’m hoping they can’t hear it in the radio station studio, but after the drills started Lisa asks me, “What is that noise?” So, live on the air, I recounted everything I’d done to try to conduct this interview. Lisa was great about it, and I managed to make it through a total of four 15-minute segments. Who knows what it sounded like to people listening? I’m told it’ll be posted as a podcast online later, but I don’t think I want to hear! The women I was supposed to have lunch with were very nice and understanding about their disappearing guest (my escort explained the situation) and I’m glad they went ahead and ate without me. After all this I really needed to get out for a run, and since Forest Park is right near my hotel, I bundled up in three shirts (don’t have a sweatshirt) shorts (don’t have sweats) 3 headbands (two over my ears, one around my neck) and mittens, and headed around the park. Despite the snow and the brrrrr temps, it was a lovely run. I went past a zoo and an outdoor ice skating facility. I saw beautiful architecture and a 1904 (?) World’s Fair building. And then I took a wrong turn and wound up facing what you see in the picture posted. A little bit scary, but hey, I had my phone (which I took the picture with) and my speedy (although frost-bitten) legs to get me out of any potentially dangerous situation. And see? Here I am, safe and sound (and finally warm!) telling you about it. The day’s not over though—I have an event at a Border’s store tonight and who knows what--whoops! The Schedule says it's in 45 minutes! And I’m still in my running clothes! Tomorrow Seattle—see you then!