A few weeks ago, my blog imploded. For whatever reason, my backups weren’t actually backing up, and one day I awoke to a tweet from a reader informing me that none of my posts existed anymore.
That’s never good.
So I contacted my tech guy, Shawn Smith, who’s been saving my digital ass since 2003 (at least). He was able (while on vacation) to restore the most recent uncorrupted backup of my blog… which was from January of 2010. And while 18 months ago isn’t so long in people years, in blog years, that means most of my content had simply disappeared.
That’s a blogger’s version of the end of the world, right?
Well… not quite.
But in the interim, the most recent posts my blog was showcasing were decidedly dated.
And yet, in a paradoxical twist, they were also incredibly timely.
Here’s Where the Story Gets Interesting
Somehow, Dan Hughes, a producer for several Canadian Broadcasting Channel (CBC) news programs — and who frequently uses Twitter to schedule interviews — stumbled across my blog on the day it was broken. The post that caught his attention was one of those “ancient” posts about how hard it is for us to manage our increasingly media-saturated lives, and he emailed me to ask if I’d like to be a live guest on an upcoming episode of Connect with Mark Kelley, to discuss Twitter’s five-year anniversary.
And by “upcoming,” he meant “in a few hours,” as in, at 8:30 PM that day.
It was around 6 PM when we finally spoke by phone.
I said “sure,” but I’d have to reschedule a shoot for The Baristas, and the cast was en route.
So while I was rearranging the schedules of half a dozen people on almost no notice, Dan was trying to figure out where I’d have to go in Pittsburgh in order to reach Connect via satellite.
In two hours.
Tip: Always Dress Like You MIGHT Be Interviewed on National TV
Realizing my behind-the-scenes wardrobe of a t-shirt and cargo shorts wouldn’t exactly scream “authoritative” on the CBC, I zipped off to the closest GAP to buy a shirt that wouldn’t get me shamed off Canadian television.
So many choices, so little time. I texted a photo of my options to my girlfriend (since she’s the one who takes fashion seriously), but she never got the message. Time passes. I buy the shirt that seems least objectionable.
At the counter, I’m served by a cashier trainee, and the sales process ground to a halt while she attempts to figure out exactly how to detach those pesky security tags, then possibly rings my whole sale up wrong. Precious minutes are ticking away. I’m well aware that “I’m running late for an interview on the CBC” isn’t a reasonable excuse to ask minimum wage employees to please hurry, so I wait it out and then hustle back to my car.
It’s 8 o’clock and I zoom off down the highway toward… well, I have no idea.
Why Aragorn Would Have Hated Pittsburgh
The video production facility that Dan had emailed me an address for was somewhere in Gateway Towers. These are a cadre of nondescript office towers at the very tip of downtown, straddling Point State Park. Alas, the address I was given didn’t say which of the towers the facility was located in.
I call the phone number for the facility. No answer.
I’m forwarded to their alternate answering service, which is way out in Plum, which is as far from downtown as you can be and still say you’re in Pittsburgh. They have no idea which towers the facility is in either. They forward my call to someone’s cell phone, whom I can barely hear. As I’m explaining my situation, the call is dropped.
I get downtown and find a garage. The cell phone connection has called her Plum colleagues back and explained where I should be parking, but still hasn’t specified which tower the facilities are in.
I park, change shirts in the car (like a boss), and run a few blocks to…
… all the wrong towers.
Because I’ve checked Google Maps, and it insists the facility is inside the Wyndham Grand Hotel, which is not true.
Nor is it in Gateway Towers 2, 3 or 4.
I finally ask a guy having a smoke break outside an actual broadcast facility where this mystery facility might be. He’s just guessing, but based on process of elimination, it must be this tower of office condos that’s otherwise completely unmarked.
I doubt it.
But, on the off chance he’s actually right, I run to that building. No address listed. The security guy inside looks at me with about as much suspicion as I’d probably have for someone who looked as shady as I must have looked at that particular moment.
So I run to a different tower. Someone else lets me into the lobby, where I ask the security guard where this phantom address could possibly be. He agrees that it must be the office condo tower. I tell him the addresses don’t match. He tells me it’s not listed in any other tower. I say fine, and run back to that damn unmarked tower.
Fucking A, the facility is in that goddamn tower.
So I’m in the Makeup Room
With no makeup people.
It turns out the facility was opened specifically because I had to film there, so only the two technicians who had to be there had come in. Neither of these dudes are makeup pros, but they do let me sit there and drink water for a few minutes while I rifle through the drawers and blot my face with a cotton ball.
They tell me I’m supposed to be on between 8:30 and 8:45 PM.
There’s a backdrop of “nighttime Pittsburgh” behind me. One tech asks if I want it changed to daytime instead. I reason that it’s nighttime as we’re filming this, so no, nighttime Pittsburgh seems like the right call.
I get in the chair. They mic me up. One guy asks if I can hear the live feed in my earpiece. I say yes. He says “Does it feel like it’s going to fall out?” I say no. He turns away. It falls out.
While I’m fiddling with the earpiece, which keeps repeatedly falling out of my ear, the two techs get embroiled in a discussion about the medical properties of certain hallucinogenic substances. This causes them to miss the incoming CBC phone call. Several times.
Finally, the CBC producer calls one of the techs on his cell phone. She gets him to promise to take the call the next time they place it. They hang up. The call comes in. Apparently, I am the only one of the three of us who hears it. But I can’t answer, because I’m in a chair with an earpiece that keeps falling out.
The guy’s cell phone rings.
This time, they’ll try a different line.
“Justin, can you hear Mark?”
(A more accurate answer would have been, “Yes, barely.”)
“Great. We’ll bring you in after commercial. You have three minutes.”
My earpiece cuts to commercial.
Chit chat chit chat suddenly Mark Kelley is in my ear, talking about Twitter, and suddenly I’m on the CBC.
I stare straight ahead, because I want to focus on the reflection of a white check in my shirt pattern, so it’ll look like I’m making eye contact with Mark Kelley (whom I’ve never seen, met or spoken to before), but also because I’m afraid that if I move my head my earpiece will fall out on national television, simultaneously making a mockery of me, Mark Kelley, Pittsburgh, Canada and Twitter.
The interview goes relatively smoothly, if you ignore the fact that I manage to both wink at the camera and raise my eyebrow like The Rock as a form of punctuation, both of which, I think, would make anyone who’s never worked in social media but who sees this interview immediately believe that social media is exclusively a playground of douchebags, which would mostly be true.
Mark Kelley goes to commercial. I’m informed by the producer that I’ve done well, and she thanks me for my time. The whole interview lasts approximately five minutes and costs me exactly $25.99 in GAP receipts and parking fees. You can see it all here, starting around the 42 minute mark. (You’ll have to fast-forward the player manually.)
Incredibly, in the actual broadcast, it looks like Mark Kelley and I are staring right at each other.
In reality, I’m in a tiny room in the lobby of an office condo, staring at my own shirt.
What Did I Learn From All This?
A few days later, my blog was resuscitated and the January 2010 post that earned me a CBC interview was once again relegated to the archives.
And now, looking back on that day’s insanity, I’m honestly not sure what the lesson in all of this is supposed to be.
“Don’t back up your blog after all?”
“Trust the guy who’s on a smoke break?”
“Always keep a freshly-ironed dress shirt in your car?”
But the next time you see an expert being interviewed on your favorite news channel, you should probably give her the benefit of the doubt.
You have no idea how long she had to wait in line at The GAP.