Monday, April 04, 2005

In The Pope's Rear View Mirror

I feel somewhat obligated to make at least passing mention of Pope John Paul, although I'm not really sure why...maybe it's because He passed me by once before.

Pope John Paul visited San Antonio in September of 1987 and I was working then at the same place I am working today. We covered his visit like a blanket...everyone had an assignment. Mine was to ride behind the Pope in the media truck as he caravanned across the city. In truth my assignment was to report from a moving vehicle on the crowds gathered along the route and be close to the Pope should something bad happen.

We didn't have cell phones back then and I don't remember if I was equipped with one of the roving gizmos we used to do live reports from the field, not that it would have worked from the back of a moving truck anyway.

As I recall there really wasn't much for me to do. There were people lining the streets all along the route waiting to get a glimpse of the Pope. He would pass by them and they would hold up signs and yell words of praise or worship...and then we'd lumber behind in the media truck. Our truck didn't stop so I couldn't interview the people...the only people I could interview were other members of the media stuck on the back of the truck with me.

There were more important stories that day.

It was a strange experience though.

I'm not a Catholic but I could certainly sense the love and devotion the people had for John Paul. We rode through some fairly rough areas of San Antonio and people would smile and wave at us...the media.

People were so excited and caught up in the day that everything seemed wondrous...even a collection of ragged reporters riding in the back of an old truck with a banner on the side reading "Media."

At one point I remember a woman yelling, "Look the media!"

Most times when you hear those words you duck for cover. They're often followed by threats or warnings to get off of someone's property. That day in September of 1987 people acted differently. Some people actually applauded as we went by.

It was then I knew what it was all about...I was riding in the wake of good will.