After a long day of covering the U.S. election results, I couldn’t wait to get back home to Canada. I was the driver for our team of five student journalists assigned to travel the interstate to gather people’s feelings on election day and then the day after when the country would know if their new president was Trump or Clinton.
President-Elect Trump was a surprise, but for me so was the treatment we received at a service centre in Angola, New York.
We wanted to talk to locals at a service centre off of the I-90 highway. We had our camera and a tripod inside of the centre when a man came up to us and asked what we were doing. He identified himself as the owner and said we were allowed to film inside the service centre as long as we didn’t talk to employees.
We interviewed a man who was waiting in line at McDonalds. The camera was on the tripod, with a microphone attached when the man came over for an interview. But before we could ask him a question, three employees at the service centre started yelling at us.
“You can’t film in here!” they yelled at us. We told them we were student journalists and we had permission but they continued to argue with us. We turned off the camera. Some members of our reporting crew were in the restroom. As we were waiting, the female employee was staring at us and making a call on her cell phone. She and her co-worker were yelling profanities at us. We tried to calm them down, repeating we were leaving as soon as our colleagues finished using the restroom.
When we overheard the employee say she was going to call the police, my teammate and I decided it was time to pick up the camera, and go outside to wait for the rest of our crew.
As we waited in the car, we saw a man following our team out of the station. He stared at us, waiting for us to leave the premise. At this point we simply were trying to get gas. The rest of our crew told us the woman inside kept yelling at them, and called one of them a derogatory word.
As I was pumping the gas, I noticed the man kept coming closer to us. I had hoped he would come all the way to the gas pump so I could get his name and report him but he kept his distance while still watching out every move.
Luckily, we did not end up in jail and I am thankful for that and also for the learning experience that the rude employees’s actions taught me. This shocking experience was just a taste of what journalists go through when working on a story. Since we are students trying to learn the field, this was a huge realization for all of us that not everyone is going to treat journalists with respect.