Friday afternoon, the local American Red Cross office called me at home, and immediately put me on speaker phone. I hate that. I never know who all is sitting in the room, and then you’re suddenly self-conscious about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it….
Anywho – they asked if I would participate in an interview with a local television news crew about relief efforts in Haiti.
Now – obviously, I’m not in Haiti right now. A part of me desperately wishes I were. A national disaster requires a commitment of up to three weeks for a disaster volunteer; an international disaster requires a commitment of up to several months. I can’t commit to that – I have kids here at home – and I just can’t/won’t be away from them for that length of time. If the kids were older and out of the house – well, I would have been on the first plane to Haiti. It’s frustrating me to no end to be sitting here, watching events on CNN, and unable to physically do anything at this time. Argh.
Okay – I’ve digressed. I’m good at that. So, the news crew wants the perspective of someone who has traveled to 3rd-world countries for mission work – and can speak on the difficulties of living – such as infrastructure, supplies, communication – when there isn’t a disaster…and how these difficulties are only compounded after a disaster, such as the earthquake. They also want me to speak on what the International Red Cross is doing in Haiti – which is the same as what we would be doing if the disaster was here in the United States – only compounded and made more difficult by the various challenges.
I had blogged just last week on how difficult it was for us to find something so basic as a pad for a paint roller in Jamaica…a 3-4 mile hike, in the pouring down rain, to 4 stores, before we eventually found what we were looking for. Last year, it was a 2-hour search to 3 different stores for a stick of butter. In Guatemala, we have ran into this, too – if we forget to bring something with us on our trips, then we go without. There isn’t a Walmart right down the street, unfortunately.
The roads? Average, at best. Mediocre, on average. Communication? Ha. Cell towers don’t often work on a normal day – let alone after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Internet cafés are few and far between, and it’s certainly not high-speed, turbo-charged Internet when it DOES work. Even something as basic as toilet paper can become a challenge if you run out, and all of the stores are closed due to lack of power, or they're seriously damaged. Um, leaves, anyone? Seriously.
So, I was supposed to do the interview in conjunction with our CEO here of our local American Red Cross. I get to the television station Sunday evening, and guess what? No CEO. They were unable to contact him. I’m flying solo on this one.
I looked at the reporter, aghast, and said, “What?! No brains of the operation here? I’m just the grunt! You’re expecting me to be the grunt AND the brains? What kind of pressure are you putting me under?!?!”
The reporter narrowed his eyes, looked at me, and then said, “I’ve talked with you before, haven’t I? I remember you.”
Actually, he HAS interviewed me in the past – several times, in fact – when I’ve been deployed to various disasters. I’m sure he remembers my charisma – or my charming sense of humor – or my Queenly attitude….Yeah, that’s it. It’s my Royal presence he remembers. If you've ever been in the presence of a Queen, it's probably something you never forget.
The interview went okay. It’s difficult to “be natural” when there’s a HUGE light shining right on your face, and there’s a television camera – zooming in on YOU. And you’re hoping and praying that you’re coming across all smart and witty and intelligent and sounding halfway coherent – all the while wondering if the bright light is showing the age spots and wrinkles and fine lines for all the world to see. And also worrying about the 10 extra pounds that the camera adds. I already have chipmunk cheeks and a double chin - 10 extra pounds on my face is not a good thing. Trust me.
After the lights and camera were off, the reporter and I spent an additional 20 minutes or so, talking about my various assignments over the years - he was genuinely interested, I guess, since he wasn't recording this and yet still wanted to know. Hmmm...maybe he'll be a future Red Cross volunteer, you think?
So, I get home last night and anxiously waited for the 10:00 p.m. news...and in the first 10 minutes, on came the story. I did okay. I know, I know - I'm my own worst critic. It would have been nice if I'd had hair and make-up artists working their magic - but I think the message came across. I sounded coherent and I didn't say, "uh" or "um", like, 100 million times. I didn't even say, "like". So - that was good, right?
And this - thank God - isn't even High Definition.
Geesh. It’s hard being famous. I’ll leave it to Angelina and Jennifer and Diane Sawyer. I’ll stick to being a grunt. It’s so much easier.