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Caffeine On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

T. R. Reid

Caffeine On Assignment

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From Photographer

Bob Sacha

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by the Washington Post (top) and Mark Thiessen


Caffeine On Assignment Author Caffeine On Assignment Author

Field Notes From Author
T. R. Reid

Best Worst Quirkiest
    My teenage kids were totally impressed that their dad went to nightclubs, but they were even more impressed that I got in. In fact, whenever I went, the young people standing in line outside looked at me and warned me that the bouncer wouldn't let me in. They thought I was a narc. My answer was that no undercover officer would come to a nightspot looking like me. As it happened, I had no trouble getting in to any club. And a couple of times the bouncer let me in free, just because I was the oldest guy in line by about 20 years.
    At the London club G.A.Y., the kids I met in line told me that the featured band that night was called "S Club 7." I had no idea what that meant. I waited in line for about an hour, and when I got to the door to pay my 15-pound admission, the bouncer looked askance. He asked me why I was there, and I said, "I would never miss S Club 7." The bouncer said "Good on ya!" and let me in free.

    The most unlikely thing that happened to me when I was reporting the caffeine story was that it turned out to be an exhausting assignment. I've climbed the Himalayas for National Geographic and trekked the southern Sahara. While on assignment two years ago, I climbed three mountains in three countries in one day. By comparison, caffeine should have been a breeze. 
But I spent much of this assignment in a fog of fatigue. I would go to the dance clubs (in London, Dublin, Salzburg) at about midnight and hang around until the young people started drinking Red Bull at about 4:30 a.m. When I found some kids ordering, I would join them and start talking; that was my reporting technique. The problem is, if you drink Red Bull at 5 a.m., it's very hard to get to sleep later. So I would spend a sleepless day and then head out to the clubs for another sleepless night of reporting. It was a lot of fun, but left me totally wasted after a couple of weeks.

    One of the best clubs I went to was Egg in London. It was an amazing scene, totally jammed and with overpowering noise and amazing outfits. Boy George was there one night, and the place was full of Boy George wannabes, with pink hair and painted faces.
    Reporting became a problem because I couldn't hear anything on my tapes. The music is 50 decibels louder than the interviews, and the kids tend to say f_ _ _ after every other word, which made it hard to extract a quotable sentence. 


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