When Garry said it, it meant he was on the air live, had absolutely no material written and no one had told him anything … and he had to keep talking — intelligently — for as long as the station kept the mike open and cameras rolling. I once watched him dance through the raindrops for almost an hour on a runway at Logan Airport while waiting for one or another President to arrive. This kind of thing happened to him at least once a week and on a busy day, could happen several times in various locations. He was better than most people at doing the dance. They don’t give Emmy’s for it, but they should.

For me, it meant writing about something — intelligently — about which I knew essentially nothing, but I had five days to turn out 500 pages to meet a deadline. I got hired for a lot of jobs like that because I was really fast. I could write about pretty much anything if someone could give me an overview of what the product was supposed to do, for whom it was supposed to do it … and someone else would produce screen dumps for me because 500 pages, including book formatting and readying for press, is a lot of work even if you work very fast. I got paid well for the work and I deserved it. In the tech doc gig, they don’t give prizes … but earning a living is a prize. It’s not glamorous, but it has its moments.

I remember riding down the elevator at Channel 7 with Garry, on our way home. The anchor came on. He’d had a difficult show because they’d given him the wrong script. He had to wing a couple of stories. In other words, no script. Nothing to read. You’d never have known what was going on unless you were in the studio and realized he had no script. He never lost a beat and when the commercial came on, they gave him a script and an apology. He looked at Garry and said “Let no one say that I cannot dance between the raindrops!”

From teaching kids who have no interest in the course you are supposed to be presenting, to giving a speech when the audience isn’t buying it, to standing in the middle of a major catastrophe while trying to explain to the watching world — when you’re working without a script or a producer and all you have to go on is your experience. When the rain is pouring down, that’s when you find your tap shoes.

We all learned to dance between the raindrops. Remarkably, our bosses never recognized how good we are. Never noticed or said thank you because we’d done a lot more than they ever paid us to do. We got no awards or raises for being able to perform the impossible. The best we got was from our peers. “Good job,” they said and that meant something. Sometimes, it meant everything.

We are amazing, aren’t we? Let’s clap for ourselves. Let’s tell each other how good we are. Because damn it, we deserve it.

Categories: #News, #Photography, #Work, Cameras, intelligence, Media, Performance

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18 replies

  1. I’m clapping too. Can you imagine trying to wing it while you’re on air? That has to be difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Dancing between the Raindrops” is my new favourite expression. 😊 Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is awesome

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Aunderwince arts and commented:
    I see the pattern of the tapping feet, let’s add a beat. This is awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, tapping feet. All part of ad-libbing. You gotta know how to share those “stories”. I loved the “rush” during those anxious moments on live television. Sometimes I could hear my crew laughing as I shared secret anecdotes with viewers.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. These are the things you don’t realize when the news is running, because it has to look so perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You can’t hear me, but I’m clapping, Marilyn.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And I am clapping for you, too. In fact, I rehung your piece today so it is more visible. I didn’t reglue the scottie. I just stood him up. I felt insecure about glue. Clapping, clapping!!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Take a photo of the retablo in its new spot? If you have white (Elmer’s) glue, just dab a bit on each foot with a toothpick and stand him up in the glue marks from before and let him dry. No problema.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for this piece. It brings back positive memories. We also called it “dancing on dime”. The anchor who’ll remain anonymous (out of respect) was known as “The Prince” among his Boston TV News peers. He was Irish, tall in stature and had ties to “the old country”. “The Prince” truly was ‘the Quiet Man’.

        He wasn’t a raconteur but ready to share stories about shared events in our careers. He was the fella anchoring when then Vice President G.H. Bush’s plane was descending on Logan Airport. It was a big media event and everyone was “LIVE” with breaking news. “The Prince”, from his anchor desk, reported the Veep’s plane was landing. I relayed, via separate “comm”, that we had a problem and the Veep’s plane was circling the airport til cleared by the control tower. The response, “That’s YOUR problem, Garry. We’re coming to you now, LIVE!”

        I heard the intro, “We now go LIVE, to Logan Airport, where Vice President Bush’s plane is landing. Garry Armstrong is there with all the details and comments from the Vice President…Garry?”

        I gulped, The Veep’s plane circled above for almost ten minutes until cleared to land. I “danced between the raindrops” … on that clear day…for a very long ten minutes…that seemed like 10 hours.

        You could look it up!!


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