Friday, September 26, 2008

The Economic Summit

The post I published Wednesday made me think of the Economic Summit held here in Houston in 1990.

"The city and its suburbs have launched an all-out war on trash and blight to scrub up for the international visitors", one newspaper said.

And, indeed we had. I have not before or since seen our city so clean and sparkling, and not one street person to be found! I have no idea where they all went, but they weren't downtown. Nor were they in any other area where visitors might likely go.

Security was unbelievably tight. Sewers were walked through and then manhole covers permanently secured. Trees and flowers and shrubs were planted. Lawns were manicured to the nth degree.

Standards of the individual nations to be represented at the event were constructed and placed in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center, where the press corps was headquartered. (A few years later, when the international terminal at Intercontinental Airport was completed, the standards were moved there.)

After midnight one evening, a friend and I went downtown and watched them doing live news reports to Europe and other parts of the world. That was interesting!

Have you ever wondered what some of these reporters are wearing below the waist? I never did until after I watched that night.

There were all of these tremendously bright lights, of course, and people milling around in shorts, t-shirts, and tennies or flip flops. It was hot!! I found myself wondering where the person was who would be doing the broadcast, and starting looking for someone sweltering in a suit and tie. Not there.

Then, all of a sudden, someone produced an impeccable shirt, jacket, and tie. One of the 'millers around' put them on, quickly grabbed a microphone, and the broadcast was on! Ha!! Still wearing his shorts and flip flops.

SO, to this day, whenever I see a reporter sitting behind a desk or shown just from the waist up at an outside location, I wonder.

Each country's representatives were housed in a different hotel. I happened to acquire a regular customer just before the Summit was due to begin.

He was from Puerto Rico, with the Secret Service, and was here to guard members of the Italian delegation. When he wasn't on duty or sleeping, he wanted to go sight-seeing, and so off we went.

The last time I saw him was when I dropped him off at his terminal at Intercontinental Airport. He said he hoped that I could get to Puerto Rico sometime. Gave me his card (which I kept for years, but don't have the slightest idea where it is now!) and then said, "I'll do the driving."

I didn't know quite how to take that. Surely he wouldn't have used my services all those times if he didn't like the way I drove? But when I looked over at him, he had this impish grin on his face.

One other regular customer was obtained by picking up a 'flagger' downtown at around 10:30pm. He was in a hurry to get to the post office, he said. Could I give him directions?

Well, as it turned out I had just come from there and said, "Get in. I'll take you." It wasn't very far, but it was hot.

He was from Canada, one of the many hundreds of press here to cover the Summit. We didn't have as many trips together as Manuel and I did -- he was required to be at the GRB almost all of the time -- but those that we did have were enjoyable, including his trip back to the airport.

1 comment:

Tammy said...

I've NEVER thought about what reporters are wearing from the waist down. lol. Now I probably always will. :)

Loved reading this.....