It was the fall of 1982, and I was a journalism school student in New York City. One morning every week I would show up to a Reporting 101 class, where the professor would be ripping long sheets of paper off the Associated Press ticker. (Or whatever it was called.) Among the things it spit out was the AP Day Book, which listed all the newsworthy events taking place in New York that day. If you were a lazy reporter, the Day Book was a lifesaver.
"All right, who wants to cover Ed Koch giving a campaign speech at Hamburger Heaven?" the professor asked, going down the Day Book. I raised my hand. Koch was running for his second term. "OK, now what you need to do, Dobie," the professor said, "is ask him after his speech if you can ride in his car with him back to City Hall and get some inside color."
Ride around. Color. OK.
I went to the Hamburger Heaven in Midtown. Koch gave his speech. I hung out. Pretty soon, it was just me, Koch, and his flack.
"Listen," I said to Koch, "I was wondering if I could ride back with you to City Hall in your car. Ask you a few questions. Get some color."
The Koch who had been so animated and wild and electric only a few minutes earlier now looked as flat as a pancake.
"You're a student somewhere, right?" the flack asked.
"Yes," I responded.
"Why don't you write about the burgers."
I wrote about the burgers.