Reporter's notebook: Hard-nosed journalist finds solace in generous delivery
As Baton Rouge prepares for another day of protest, another day when our humanity is called into question, I saw a way out Saturday. The answer came to me in of all places the Chabill’s auto service store on Burbank. It was an unscheduled visit which brought me there. I ran over a muffler on I-110 going 60 miles an hour. So as I waited the five hours it was going to take to fix the damage, I sat back and watched the world go by.
Saturday at Chabill’s is a busy time for service attendants doing mainly oil changes and tire replacements. Sweaty and nonstop work in an open air garage. Sometime around 1 p.m. an African American lady the manager spoke to as Miss Mary came by for an oil change. Unfazed by the 45 minute wait, she looked out the glass door onto the service area and speaking to no one in particular asked if “those boys had enough to drink in the heat?” Miss Mary excused herself, left the air conditioned office, only promising she’d be back shortly.
15 minutes later I found myself opening the front door for her. Arms full with a 10 pound sack of ice and bags of Gatorade and bottled water. She bought it for the guys working on the cars. Speechless at first by the gesture, the crew quickly surrounded her to offer their thanks. That act of kindness did not go unanswered. “The guys”, the manager told her later, “wanted her to have the oil change on them.”
I suspect all across Baton Rouge Saturday, strangers helped strangers. I was just happen to witness this one. As cliché and naive as it may sound, why not follow Miss Mary’s lead, and try being kind to everyone you meet. It doesn’t change the events of this past week. But maybe it is a start to preventing them from happening again.
Executive Producer, The Investigative Unit
Mark Phillips leads the WBRZ Inestigative Unit - a team of reporters, producers, researchers and fact-checkers who hold people accountable. Before joining the WBRZ News team, Phillips managed news teams in Arizona and Illinois and was a TV reporter in both Alexandria, La. and New Orleans.