About 1:15 in the morning. All was calm.
I had finished my work. Page eight didn’t look too bad. It had been dropped in the server and sent away to the publisher and everything online was updated.
In fact, it was only the front page to finish up. In about five minutes we could pack up and turn off the lights. Time to head home.
We were sitting around, enjoying a week of hard work now done and watching assembly democrats ramble about anything that could fill enough time to continue a 61-hour bill stall.
I’m not sure who noticed it first, but suddenly, there was a lot of activity coming from that laptop screen. Someone was calling for a vote. Everyone was shouting. Within 30 seconds, the speaker called the vote and half of the assembly chamber was all but running out a back door, while the other half shouted… huh?
They’re definitely shouting ‘shame.’
We were all a little stunned, but instinct took over and we mobilized. We left a few people behind to run the newsroom, and the rest of us took off for the Capitol.
What the hell just happened?
Hustling up State Street, we hit the Capitol steps and a hustle became a run. Once inside the building, I’ll admit, I had no idea where to go. The protesters that were still up at 1:30 all appeared upset, but strikingly calm.
It smelled awful in there.
We soon found the stairs to the chambers blocked off with a dozen State Troopers, and with no credentials, we were stuck.
Two orange shirts appeared, coming down the stairs a minute later. Rep. Cory Mason was one. When he ducked between the troopers, I asked him, simply, ‘Sir, what happened in there?’
I was sure he was ignoring me. He kept walking away until he turned around slightly and mumbled angrily, ‘We were screwed.’
Fortunately, another one of our writers caught him in a more talkative mood a few minutes later and we had our quotes. Two of our photographers appeared out of nowhere as well, and now we had our photos.
Heading back to the news room, we were beat, but still running on adrenaline.
It took until 3:30 to completely make over the front page and finally put it to print.
We had beaten everybody, though. The competitor simply changed their headline and added a few informative paragraphs to a pre-existing story. They had not gone up to the Capitol. They had no quotes, no photo.
None of the regional papers had anything either. They obviously have a much stricter print deadline, and were likely putting ink to paper by the time we were just scrambling for quotes.
Only one paper Friday morning had a fresh photo and story from the night before.
And it felt pretty damn good.
Random Fact: The word “cabbage” only appears once in the works of Shakespeare.