q and a

I've been working out some answers to questions that people pepper me with on the job. For some reason, people seem to think that it's okay to approach a complete stranger and jack information from me about my life, the contents of my luggage, the weight and cost of our equipment, what have you. I realize that what I do is perceived as part of the Fame Machine, and therefore I have no more expectation of privacy than a hapless celebrity wandering down a Main Street in some Midwestern town, but it's still odd and sometimes incredibly irritating to deal with a passerby calling out: Hey, what's in your suitcase? It's a bit like walking into an office and saying So... what you got in your desk? How much does that file cabinet cost? And so on. Here are some responses I give out to the most commonly offered questions and conversational gambits.

  • Q: Hey, what's in your suitcase?

  • A: Some guy who owes me money.

    This is a great all-purpose response in most parts of the world, usually eliciting a laugh from the curious. In the Florida Keys, though, people will take you seriously.

  • Q: What are you filming?

  • A: Well, this is kind of embarassing, really, because we've been making a documentary on you for the last ten years, and you've finally noticed us.

  • Q: What kind of film stock do you use for that camera?

  • A: The fuck you care, buddy?

    That's not the answer I give, but man, do I ever get tired of people staring like mules at a Betacam and asking about film stock.

  • Q: How much does that camera cost?

  • A: Around forty thousand dollars.

    Even though it's not wise to announce to strangers that you're carrying the price of a sports car on your shoulder, it's too much fun to see their eyes defocus and their mouths try to chew out a response to that.

  • Q: Are you news reporters?

  • A: Yes, the event we're covering happened fifty years ago and we just heard about it in Canada. We're hot on its trail.

  • Q: Are you making a student film?

  • A: Yes, we're making a student documentary about student disasters for student networks all over the student world. The students hired us because they're so busy studying.

  • Q: You must have enough Air Miles to go anywhere in the world, hey?

  • A: We fly on a special magic rock. Sometimes crew members fall off and the company pretends that they've quit and gone partying in Thailand.

  • Q: You must find your work very interesting.

  • A: Could you phrase that as a question? I'm trying to maintain a format.

  • Q: Don't you find your work interesting?

  • A: Oh yes, very interesting, thank you, thank you, it's fascinating, and rewarding too, you wouldn't believe the rewards, and all the people I meet, yes I meet all kinds of interesting people, and oh the things I see and the places I go, feel free to live vicariously through me for thirty seconds, and yes it's hard because I miss my wife, and no we don't have any children, but yes there'll be quite a homecoming ha ha, she'll be so sore when I get through with her, oh yes, oh I can see I got a bit carried away there and you're not smiling anymore and we're still setting up, oh damn.