A warning about dancing in your car, it may get you fired

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By Travis Mayfield

Heaven, by DJ Sammy came out while I was a reporter at a TV station in Yakima ten years ago.

I was obsessed with the song. It was the theme song of my life. I would hear it at dance club and I couldn’t help myself I had to move.

To this day I have to admit I'll still go a little crazy when I hear it (for purely nostalgic reasons of course).

Let me be clear, I cannot dance. I have no natural rhythm and as hard as I may try I am unable to learn a single dance step. This includes club dancing.

However that has never stopped me from trying.

In fact, there is a certain move when I was younger I would often fall back on in a club that involved pumping the first of my right hand up in the air in a poor attempt at hitting the beat.

There are other pathetic moves, but it’s best not to describe them here (or ever). 

As a reporter in Yakima I used to shoot a lot of stories on my own without a photographer, we called it one-man-banding. Thus I had my own newscar. It was a Ford Explorer with the NBC peacock painted visibly on both sides.

One morning I came back from a story and was called directly into my news director's office.

"We got a call about your driving," he said angrily.

I was stunned.

Generally I am a very careful driver and when I am in a company vehicle I am especially cautious.

"A woman called in and reached the VP,” my news director continued. “She said you flipped her off repeatedly, cursed at her and then sped away aggressively."

I thought there's no way this could be me, until my boss repeated my license number as written down by the woman and the intersection where I knew I had been at 10:20 that morning.

"The VP takes this kind of thing very seriously and it’s very likely we're going to have to fire you," my boss said.

I was freaked out, not just because I was facing the prospect of being jobless, but because I thought I had to be losing my mind. How could I not remember doing this, when clearly I had?

Somehow I caught a lucky break and big news broke that went on for several weeks. My boss never said anything else and I didn't bring it up.

About a month later I was stopped at the same intersection and DJ Sammy's Heaven came on the radio.

Instantly my fist went up in the air, I started pumping and I started singing.

I was really getting into it when I happened to look over at the driver stopped next to me and see a look of utter horror on the man's face.

Suddenly I saw myself in the reflection in his window: An angry, 'screaming' reporter, waving his fist in all directions inside my marked company vehicle.

I WAS the driver that woman had called to complain about.

I nearly got fired because I had thrown myself a dance party in my newscar.

To this day, I do not dance in a marked station vehicle.

Lesson learned.

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