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REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK: How creepiness with a camera nearly got me ‘pantsed’

Posted on January 27, 2022 by Maple Creek

Never mind COVID-19, what about “Creep With A Camera Syndrome”?
As far as I know there is no vaccine for CWACS, which is too bad for me as I believe I am the world’s only sufferer of this little understood condition.
What is CWACS? It is a state of extreme paranoia that results from approaching strangers while carrying any of the following: a camera, cellphone, pen, notebook, and/or questions.
Put more succinctly, I’m a creep. Or at least I’ve begun to see myself that way. Let’s face it, any job which requires prowling about with a camera is rife with potential creepiness.
The optics scream: Watch out, there’s someone with a Nikon – possibly an irritating reporter – on the loose. Close your windows, and your mouths.
I’m sure Radiohead had me in mind when they penned “Creep”.
“I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo … What the hell am I doin’ here?”
Twice in the last few days, my CWACS symptoms have surfaced. The first flare-up happened when I was asked in a public setting not to take a photo for the newspaper.
Fair enough, of course. But in my fevered imagination, the firm voice seemed to travel to the farthest reaches of the universe, or at least Saskatchewan, no doubt causing everyone to jump in unison. I’m surprised Moe, or Trudeau, didn’t declare a national emergency and dispatch troops to Maple Creek. Easy to imagine a five-star general, with a megaphone, booming: “Would the little creep in a black toque lay down his camera … very slowly, mind you.”
Hastily I fled the scene, my internal Creepometer whirring, beeping, blinking and screeching.
The second, more severe CWACS resurgence occurred when the Freedom Convoy 2022 passed by Maple Creek on Monday afternoon.
As I moved furtively about, looking for people to interview, an old truism reasserted itself: not everybody adores reporters.
We are as popular as maple bugs and lawyers – but at least lawyers are perceived as smart.
My camera seemed to be viewed almost as a firearm.
I didn’t know it at the time, but impeccable sources have since told me that my slinking with a camera, and a mask around my neck, proved very bothersome to some folk: Was I doing a hatchet job on the convoy?
One person even wondered whether my behaviour warranted a “pantsing”.
And then something else notable happened on Monday.
A driver who happened to be in the convoy, but presumably wasn’t part of it, gave us the finger. Us being the good-humoured group of onlookers watching the passing truckers.
It happened so quickly that I barely processed the gesture. Someone next to me, however, was incensed.
“Doesn’t that guy know we are doing this for people like him?”
Later, I wondered: Did that guy really raise his middle digit at us, or at the insufferable creep with the Nikon camera, the black toque, and the mask draped around his neck?
You see, that’s what CWACS does … you begin to question everything, especially yourself.
The problems, of course, are all in my silly head. Which leads, I suppose, to a possible cure for my condition, other than binning my camera and my job.
A new head.
Sounds far-fetched?
Well, I hear there has been very promising pig-to-human transplant research.

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