I was working in the web department alone. I was new to the staff, and was subbing in as a web producer while the more tenured people celebrated at home. I was assured by my boss that nothing ever happens news-wise on Christmas Day, and that reposting wire copy is all I'd really be doing.
It was about half an hour before I was scheduled to go home when someone, a writer or assistant, came jetting by my desk saying something about a tiger loose in the SF Zoo. Thinking there was no way this was possible (people say crazy stuff in newsrooms all the time), I went back to combing for more AP stories.
But within a minute or two the few people working that night became frantic and scurried about quickly. In the midst of the rush someone stopped at my desk: "Did you get this? A tiger got out at the zoo and attacked some kids."
This sounded unbelievable to me, but there we had it: A Tiger had escaped and killed a zoo visitor.
To say that I was prepared to handle this breaking news story for CBS5.com solo is like saying Bush Jr. was prepared for his Presidency. I was green, barely able to navigate the back end of the site and getting bombarded by all sides.
The national network, which had no news of its own, got wind of the tiger attack, and soon they were phoning me up.
"We need you to organize the anchors for a live web hit."
I sat there, stunned. The anchors did not know my name, much less take orders from me. Getting updates on the tiger attack was a chore--everything was happening so fast--and I was the only one in the web department working.
None of the producers had time to help me because they were also short-handed, and the calls and requests from national kept coming. I could barely keep up, and before I knew it I was in tears.
It wasn't as bad as being mauled by a pissed off tiger, but it was a night I won't soon forget.
Oh, and for the record if you get high and drunk and taunt and piss on a tiger--in a zoo or not--don't be surprised when it murders your ass.