My journalism professors love forcing me to get out of my comfort zone for the sake of being a “real reporter.” They’re constantly sending me out into the community blindly to get interviews to talk to people.
During the third week of spring quarter, Teresa Allen gave us a “cover your hood” assignment. We were assigned to travel around San Luis Obispo and talk to city officials from the fire department, the police station, the courthouse and City Hall. Since I am not our overachieving arts editor, Sarah Gilmore, I obviously waited to complete this assignment until the night before it was due.
I am a reporter on a scooter. I own a Yamaha Vino 125. Scooters, I have found, are also the least convenient way to travel as a reporter.
I enjoy finding creative ways to transport my equipment for reporting. Carrying a laptop, a camera and a tripod at the same time is tricky if you’re not yet experienced in the fine art of scootering.
Sometimes I take stories in Paso Robles or Templeton, and then I remember I don’t even have enough horsepower to drive on the freeway. But hey, at least I spend one-tenth the gas money of my peers.
As for my gas-saving scooter, her name is Lola. She’s red and adorable.
So, I rode Lola from the fire department to the police department (get your mind out of the gutter, my friend). The secretary at the fire department was less than excited to see me. Since I was the last of my peers to complete this assignment (no shock there), the city officials had grown tired of the annoying students with bombarding questions. Thank you, Allen.
I was scootering my way down Higuera Street, when I got in the left turn lane on Walnut Street, right in front of the police department. I sat at the light for SIX LIGHT CYCLES before I realized that the magnetic detector had no idea I was there.
I looked around nervously as cars zoomed past me in all directions. I began forcefully rocking my scooter back and forth. I backed up and drove forward to the left and right. I drove around in awkward circles hoping and praying the light would change to green. Suddenly I felt as if I was in a deep dark cavern, with no escape. I looked at my watch to notice I had wasted eight minutes at this intersection already.
I kept thinking that, at any minute, somebody might drive up behind me and tip the scale. No luck. Of course nobody wants to turn left on Walnut Street at 3 p.m. That would be ridiculous.
Finally, I got the gumption to turn left on a red light — in front of the police station. I am not generally one for illegal activities, so the fact my crime was in front of the police station felt mildly ironic.
After organizing my helmet hair, I walked into the station. I told the receptionist my name, and that I hoped to speak to the chief of police, Deborah Linden.
The receptionist promptly told me, “Oh, I’m so sorry, she just left two minutes ago. Try again tomorrow morning.”