D: The most important items to have to portray authority are the orange safety vest and the scanner. The scanner is the most important if there's a lot of sort of police and EMS type persons nearby. The vest is best if you're trying to do something where people aren't necessarily going to be that close to you but they might glance at you. Maybe they're driving down the highway and they see somebody who's mucking around some microwave tower. They're not going to look at you twice if you're wearing bright safety clothing. Whereas if you're wearing something ninja like, which is what people want to go for, then they'll get suspicious because then you'll look like a terrorist. So I think it's most important to wear bright reflective clothing and a hard hat if you have one. In lieu of a hard hat maybe some kind of all american, worker type, baseball cap, and the scanner are key. The scanner's better for the close up stuff.
M: And the scanner should be on.
D: Yes the scanner should be on. You should do your research and tune it to police frequencies in that local area. If you're actually going to be going into something like the train crash. (see photos). I think that day all I had on was a plain long sleeved work shirt and the scanner and work pants like these, I didn't wear the vest there but because the scanner was tuned to the same channel that they were all on nobody said anything. And people were asking me questions and I was just like - Oh, ah, I haven't checked with, ah, Bob, um.
It was the day after 9/11, so it was 9/12, 2 miles east of Wendover on the UP line, an Amtrak driver fell asleep while driving. I guess there's all kind of safety precautions that they have against that but they weren't working - I don't know. The train was totally chock full of people because everyone was riding trains because they couldn't get on planes. Everyone was trying to get home.
M: ...and everyone thought it was a bomb.
D: Yeah they were all wandering around like night of the living dead in Wendover,
M: ...through the desert...
D: ...with their pajamas on. But nobody died.
M: How often did you do this before? [the train crash]
D: I only started doing it when I started taking pictures of all the towers. So many of them are on FCC or government property. I started wanting to pay attention to looking official, not suspicious basically. So that's when I started doing it, when I was out there [in Wendover] so when the train crash happened I was like oh I have the totally the outfit to wear. That's when I got the idea, which I haven't acted on, to get a circular logo printed for my truck.
M: Oooh, a logo of what?
D: Actually I wanted to use the image of the Smith chart that's in the Power Exchange book with a graph and put some acronym around the outside. Something that seems federal. I called around it would only be like $20.
M: They would just think you're some kind of surveyor.
D: Exactly. Surveyor tools would be great to have.
M: So you're wearing a blank long sleeved shirt...
D: I think ultimately the shirt doesn't matter if you have the orange safety vest.
I've got a walkie talkie and I would have the scanner on but, uh, the little clip broke off. And I've got my leatherman here.
If nothing else - you need the scanner if you're going to be right with EMS and police people.
If it's a little bit colder a jacket with some kind of official patch is good.
The guy in the police shirt gave me a hard hat to wear at the train crash site.
- Deborah Stratman