The entourage

I recently had the opportunity of being photographed with a celebrity.

Because I work in the newsroom of a South Florida television station, that happens pretty often, so being starstruck is something that rarely — if ever — happens to me.

Now, on several occasions I have welcomed the chance to be photographed with someone who has celebrity status.  But I’m picky as to which celebrities I allow to be photographed with me.  After all, I don’t want to end up on just anyone’s Facebook page 🙂

As for this most recent photo-with-a-celeb opportunity, I can’t tell you her name.

It’s not because I’m trying to protect her identity.  It’s because I have no idea who she is or why she’s famous.

Nonetheless, she showed up with the mandatory entourage of the allegedly famous in tow.  You know, the people paid to tell her she’s cool.

“I had to Google her to find out who she is,” I heard several of my colleagues say when they too were given the chance to meet and be photographed with this person.

Yet, there she was, with an entourage of about 10 people, whose job it is to stroke her ego and make sure her every need is met, while giving attitude to the mere mortals who dared not stop everything they were doing to swoon over her presence.

It’s sad that thinking having an entourage makes you cool.  It’s even sadder thinking that being part of someone else’s entourage makes you cool.

My barometer for coolness is simple.  The fewer people in your entourage, the cooler you are.

Which brings me to my most recent starstruck experience — one that left me feeling like a pre-teenage girl going backstage to meet her favorite boy band.

I temporarily lost the ability to speak.  Breathing became an option.

The three men walked into the newsroom unannounced in the middle of the afternoon. There was no fanfare or staged photo opportunity.

There wasn’t even a hint of an entourage.

But their impact and ability to save lives is so powerful that the governors and mayors of every U.S. city with the potential of being struck by a hurricane depend on their guidance to keep residents safe before, during and after a storm.

One of them I already knew.

Max Mayfield — whose name that became synonymous with saving lives during Hurricane Andrew — is a colleague of mine.  He is the former director of the National Hurricane Center, and one of the humblest, kindest people I know.  We work together closely during Hurricane season.  And I get a particular warm fuzzy every time he sends me one of his blogs and asks if “I wouldn’t mind” posting it to our station’s website.

Rick Knabb, Max Mayfield,  Dennis Feltgen and yours truly.

Rick Knabb, Max Mayfield, Dennis Feltgen and yours truly.

With Max were Rick Knabb, the current Director of the National Hurricane Center and Dennis Feltgen, the center’s Public Affairs Officer — all three seasoned meteorologists who are “must haves” in everyone’s hurricane survival kit.

When they stopped at my desk and Max introduced us, my geek status meter went into the red zone.

My gasp could be heard all the to the Cape Verde Islands. (For those of you who don’t monitor hurricanes in the Atlantic, those islands are just off the coast of Africa, where hurricanes are born.)

Within seconds, I fumbled for my iPhone and asked one of my colleagues to take our photo.  In less time than it took for the flash to go off,  I had posted the photo on Facebook.

What struck me the most about these guys was their lack of pretentiousness.  They also seemed a bit surprised that I wanted my photograph taken with them.

Their attitude during our conversation can be summed up like this:  What can we do to help you?  How can we do a better job providing you with the tools and information you need to help communicate that information to your viewers during the threat of a hurricane?”

Aren’t those who live to serve and help others the ones who make the greatest impact on our lives?  Isn’t that what we should all be striving to do?

As for the celebrity who inspired this article, if not knowing who she is makes me uncool, I wear my uncool t-shirt proudly.

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