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Chance of rain, chance of rain… What?!

6 Apr

Our hometown NBA team is in a bit of a tailspin, leading to all sorts of hand-wringing and “what can they do?” and “is the dynasty over?” questions (Answers: Barring a time-machine for Tim Duncan’s knees and Manu’s ankles, nothing. Also yes, it is. Sorry. It has been glorious while it lasted.).

A lot of smart people have weighed in on coaching strategy and lineups. However, I’m wondering if it’s time to share the wisdom from an unheralded genius named Stella.

Stella loved to call the investigative hotline when I worked at the NBC affiliate here. Sorting through viewers’ complaint calls was part of my super glamorous job.

First time we talked, she was convinced that a local department store had sold her a couch infested with boll weevils. I made the mistake of calling her back, thinking it sounded like an interesting consumer dilemma. Then, after about an hour of talking,  she told me the couch was 18 years old.  Umm.

She never accepted the verdict that it was not  a story, and would leave weekly plaintive messages “but, Honeeeeeeeeeey reconsider about the WEEEEEEEEEVILS.”

But once we became “friends,” she called about more than the weevils.

“Honeeeeey, I don’t want to sound mean, but I know the problem with Tim Duncan’s free throws,” she told me one year. “It’s not his shot, like they’re all worried about. It’s his underarm hair. He has too much. It gets in the way. Can you tell him, please? Please?!?!? I love the Spurs, honeeeey. Tell the sports guys.”

I’m just saying, maybe it’s time to call Stella again. Someone get her number to Coach Pop.

I know two great truths from working in TV news. First, journalists will eat any free food delivered to the newsroom without question about who it came from. Osama Bin Laden could send up a plate of brownies and they would be gone in 60 seconds.

Second, no matter how drunk or how crazy someone is, they will always be able to dial the TV newsroom.

Stella was one of an excellent stable of regular wacky callers that included the guy who routinely told me Clear Channel was sending him personal messages through the radio waves in his car. We forwarded his messages to the police when he started talking about them telling him to chop people up and bag the bodies in Hefty bags. After that, he called from the State School. But you know, at least we kept in touch.

My favorite, though, was the gentleman unfortunately suffering from a Tourette’s-like ailment.  He left messages at *both* TV stations I worked for.

Regular as a cuckoo clock, he would call at least once a week, repeat whatever phrase he had just heard 3 times, and then polish it off with a screamed obscenity and hang up.

So the calls, which I took GREAT joy in forwarding to various people in the newsroom, went like this:

“Have no suspects! Have no suspects! Have no suspects!  DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!”

“Chance of rain! Chance of rain! Chance of rain! F–K YOU!”

and of course “Spurs lose again! Spurs lose again! Spurs lose again! SHIT!”

Dude, I know how you feel.

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