I have to admit that last week’s interview, the debut offering from Tucson Interviewed, was an unmitigated disaster. My first guest, “A” Mountain, walked out mid-interview before I could really get to the meat of my query.
I felt like a failure. At least nobody died, I told myself.
Yeah, except for my professional journalism career.
After wallowing for a bit, I remembered what my grandmother used to tell me: “Don’t fuck it up again.” If my grandmother was willing to give me a second chance, why couldn’t Tucson?
For this installment, I present to you my interview with a Tucson-ish traffic camera, Traffic Camera #AZ48299.
Catfish: Thank you for speaking with me today, Camera #AZ48299.
Traffic Camera: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me Please, call me Cam.
C: Okay, Cam, if you insist. I’d like to start out by asking that you not leave before the interview is finished.
TC: Heh heh. Of course not.
C: How long have you been in Tucson, Cam?
TC: Let’s see… I think it’s been about five--five-ish--years now.
C: And we should point out that technically you are outside of the city limits of Tucson, correct?
TC: That’s correct. I’m one of the traffic cameras on Alvernon between Ajo and Irvington. We photograph speeders.
C: I have to ask, how do you feel when people slow down below the speed limit to drive past you?
TC: (laughs) Oh, bless their hearts. I don’t know what they’re thinking!
C: Right? It’s like they think they’re going to get extra credit or something. Like maybe you’ll take their picture for being especially safe and send it to them with a gold star or something.
TC: (Laughs uproariously)
C: But the fact of the matter is that the Pima County cameras wouldn't take pictures unless a car was going 11 miles or more over the limit.
TC: That’s correct.
C: So you’ve kind of gotten a bad rap then? Unlike the red light cameras, you would give people a little wiggle room.
C: How have you enjoyed the Old Pueblo?
TC: I’ve loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I’m originally from Mesa, and--well… let’s just say that Mesa is Mesa and doesn’t at all compare to Tucson.
C: But your stay here is coming to an end soon, correct?
TC: Yes, I, along with the other traffic cameras in Pima County were turned off last month (January 2014).
C: But you’re still here.
TC: Yes, for the time being. We’re awaiting recall by the vendor.
C: What happens to all of you at that point?
TC: There have been a lot rumors, but, really, nobody’s sure. Maybe we’ll be deployed to another city. Maybe we’ll be turned into scrap. Maybe we’ll be reconfigured as red light cameras inside the city.
While I could see everyone who drove past me, the one thing I’ve never been able to see is the future.
C: How deep.
There’s no use in denying it, Cam, but you and your camera brethren were never popular in the city. There have been numerous attempts to get rid of you, including a number of petitions. Did that ever bother you?
TC: Listen, I understand. I get it, I really do. I know why I was never well liked. It just goes with the territory. I’ve never held it against anyone. I was created to do one thing, and that was the only thing I could do: be what I was born to be. I was me, but I was the best me I could be.
C: You had no problems with what your occupation? Essentially you were a paid snitch.
TC: It’s not like that was my dream in life. Do people really think that I wouldn’t have rather have taken pictures of something else?
C: So you do have an underlying interest in photography?
TC: Oh, yes, absolutely, that and silent film. They’re both such magical mediums.
C: What would you rather have photographed?
TC: I know this sounds strange, but I’ve always had a fascination with yard ornaments and decorations. Gnomes, sleeping sombrero-ed Mexicans, tortoises--I love it all!
C: You’re right that does sound strange.
TC: I’m comfortable with who I am.
C: “Whom I am.”
TC: Whom are you?
C: The album?
TC: (Laughs) I have no idea what’s going on right now.
C: Me neither. Um, let’s see, next question: what is your ideal burrito filling?
TC: I know this isn’t very exciting, but when it’s done correctly, I say that there’s nothing better than bean and cheese.
C: Black or Pinto?
TC: Neither. Lima.
C: Ugh, that sounds disgusting. Where does one even find a lima bean and cheese burrito?
TC: I’m comfortable with who I am.
C: What’s your favorite local musical act?
TC: Oh, gosh, I don't even know! I really don’t get out much.
C: Always working, eh?
TC: Like the saying goes, “There’s no rest for the worked.”
C: I don’t think that’s actually a saying.
C: Hey! I ask the questions here. I don’t come into your workplace and take pictures of people in their Nissans Versa speeding by!
TC: Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it.
C: I was just messing with you. Sorry--sometimes my sarcasm doesn’t translate well. Moving on, though, it’s time for our classic question concerning the University of Arizona.
TC: Ooh, exciting. Let’s do this.
C: The question is: Can you tell me something about the U of A?
TC: Um, they like red bricks?
C: That is correct! Next question.
Because I want Tucson Interviewed to be an interactive discussion, I’ve opened the floor to questions from my readers, and in each interview I’ll ask one of their questions. Cam, are you ready?
TC: Yes, I can’t wait.
C: The question is…
...we actually have no questions.
TC: Oh, boo. I was really looking forward to it.
C: Yeah, I’m not entirely sure that I have any readers, to be perfectly honest. I guess I’ll go back to asking my own questions.
TC: Sounds good to me.
C: To many Tucsonans, the monsoon season is the highlight of the year. When one of our quintessential monsoon thunderstorms rolls into town, Cam, what do you prefer to be doing?
TC: In a perfect world? I’d be snuggled up with a favorite book, occasionally sipping on a Cactus Cooler on ice.
C: Tucson is in the Sonoran Desert, obviously, which is the home of the iconic saguaro cactus. Tell me, Cam, do you prefer saguaros with or without arms?
TC: With arms, definitely. Without them, I’ve always thought they just look like green misshapen, thorned penises.
C: I have never once thought that, but I suppose you’re maybe right. Speaking of thoughts, we’re going to set aside the deep, thought-provoking questions and enter into the Lightning Round. With these questions, I don’t want you to think about them; I just want you to give your first, instinctive answer.
C: Are you ready?
TC: Is this part of the Lightning Round?
C: Is me asking you if you’re ready for the Lightning Round part of the Lightning Round?
TC: So I’ve already ruined the bit by asking you if it was part of the bit?
C: I wouldn’t say you ruined it. You know what really ruins an interview?
TC: No, what?
C: When the dick mountain I’m interviewing walks out mid-interview. That ruins things mighty quick.
TC: Oh, no!
C: Yeah, first interview in this series--
TC: That’s just awful.
C: Anyway, let’s not dwell. Let’s get to the first real question of the Lightning Round.
C: The Lightning Round starts ...now!
Eegee’s french fries: ranch or two ranches?
TC: Uhh, ranch?
C: Spring Fling or Pima County Fair?
TC: The Fair.
C: Sixth Street or Sixth Avenue?
C: Yard sales on a Sunday morning or the Swap Meet on a Saturday night?
TC: You can only get a churro at one of those. Swap Meet.
C: Which is more annoying: people who misspell “Tucson” or people from Phoenix?
TC: Misspelled Tucson.
C: Preferred Gem Show purchase: “authentic” arrowheads or anything turquoise?
C: Sabino Canyon or Mt. Lemmon?
TC: Mt. Lemmon.
C: Gary Shandling or Craig T. Nelson?
TC: Garry Shandling.
C: Finish this sentence: “Tucson is…”
TC: Home. Tucson is home.
C: Cam, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I, along with the rest of Tucson, wish you the best of luck int he future.
TC: It’s been a pleasure, Tucson.
Tune in next time for another conversation with one of Tucson’s many voices. If you have a question for one of those voices, please send it to tucson dot interviewed at gmail dot com.