Everyone Has at Least One Story

As my time comes to an end (for now) in Los Angeles, I can only feel a sense of gratefulness. I'm once again looking at my future with excitement and uncertainty, but also looking back on this past year with amazement.

Almost every day, something happens in LA to make me stop and think "wow, what a special place this is". The people you happen to come across, the things that you see....they just don't happen anywhere else. Or anywhere else I've lived, not even New York City.

Today I had such an experience. I've come across several celebrities and "neat" things while working on the CBS lot, but today was special for a different reason.
What inspired and amazed me came from somewhere I least expected.

We often walk by people we don't know, or have co-workers we never talk to. It's what happens in life. We don't have the opportunities, or don't take the opportunities to meet or speak to every single person we encounter.

Yesterday I was picking up some video for a promo I was working on. I had to go find an editor I had never met before and ask him if he had what I needed. His name was Steve. I knocked on his door, got the video and left. Today I had to give it back. But instead of knocking on the door and dropping it off, we got into a conversation.

It turns out, Steve is one hell of a guy.

Steve currently freelance edits for the place I work, but it's nothing compared to what he used to do.
A short conversation about editing turned into a long conversation. Then he invited me to sit down and shut the door to his edit bay.
I did.
He pulled out his personal computer and began showing me several pieces he edited for "The Today Show". He spent years working and traveling for NBC. We watched a 5 minute piece he did with Matt Lauer (one of several). They sent him to Chile. It was beautiful and well put together.
He traveled all over the world and worked on multiple Olympic games.
He told me people used to care about news and storytelling. That every shot mattered to a photographer, every word mattered to the reporter, and every splice mattered to an editor.

But the piece de resistance came when he showed me a giant scar on his arm. I noticed it earlier in our chat, but I didn't say anything.
Steve was actually shot when shooting a story.
A very famous story.
He was part of Cali Congressman Leo Ryan's entourage when they went to investigate Jim Jones and the cult in Jonestown. I didn't know much about the story, but I did remember when I interned at NBC, there was a memorial at 30 Rock for the journalists killed in the attack. I also had heard the term "don't drink the kool-aid".

"On November 14, 1978, Harris accompanied California congressman Leo Ryan, NBC cameraman Bob Brown, NBC producer Bob Flick, NBC sound engineer Steve Sung and several other journalists to GeorgetownGuyana.[2] The group was investigating rumors of torture, kidnapping and other offenses by the Peoples Temple in an agricultural commune located 150 miles from Georgetown that the Temple called Jonestown.[2] "

"The next thing I remember was people picking up guns from inside the truck and shooting at us. That's the footage the world saw." That now-famous shot came at a great cost. Brown took a bullet in the thigh, Sung in the arm. Seconds later, a gunman shot Brown at point-blank range, wanting to make sure he was dead. Only Sung's ability to lie completely still, despite the wound burning in his arm, saved him."

So Steve was shot...and he survived. Many people around him did not.
He lived and spent 30 minutes with me in an edit bay.
He told me just a few of probably hundreds of amazing stories.
He has a passion for editing and creating and told me how it made him feel. Without saying it...I knew it makes him feel alive. It felt like he was stealing the words right out of my heart.

Some of us aren't lucky enough to know this feeling when it comes to work and never will. Some of us spend our lives chasing it but never finding it. I'm just glad that I spent a few minutes of my day to talk to someone that does know what it's like to have a passion, to live the passion, and is willing to share it with others.

Everyone has a story, some are better than others....