August 8, 2005 2:16 p.m.

I saw the freelancer Fein in the airport. He was buying a newspaper. The cashier was asking each customer if they wanted to buy some bottled water. I knew this wouldn't be good. She got to Fein.

"Would you like some bottled water with that purchase?" she asked with a smile.

There was a pause. Fein looked down for a second then stared straight into the woman, and said in a soft voice:

"If I wanted a bottle of water I would have put one on the counter."

It was just a simple sentence, but there was anger in every word...to Fein this was a violation, another intrusion into his private world with an advertisement, even worse, one that forced him to speak. The woman began to explain that she had been ordered by her bosses to ask every customer if they wanted to buy bottled water...

I walked with Fein to the gate. He was still thinking about it, shaking his head, looking down, imagining now that each purchase, each transaction, would be framed by the insincerity of a pitch...an encounter with a human who wasn't there.

"Maybe," he said, with the flicker of a smile, "if I just don't respond? If I say nothing?"

E-mail Harrigan

Steve,

Just wanted you to know I think you are an excellent reporter. I'm not one who sends fan mail, etc., but every time I hear one of your reports, I am impressed. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

Heather
Poplar Bluff, MO

Steve.

Just had to let you know how deeply your stories from the most dangerous places on earth have touched my wife and I. We were particulary left in a nearly numb state after seeing your courageous reporting from the Congo. We are looking forward to seeing your report from Nuevo Laredo. Thanks for the courage to bring the real story, to all of us sitting in the comfort of our living rooms.

Hal & Pat
Toledo, OH


Steve,

Thanks for your reports on the goings on at the US/Mexican border. Why in the world are we in Iraq? We should be spending our money protecting our borders and our citizens who have been kidnapped in Mexico. You have put yourself right in the midst of dangerous territory. FOX News should drive this news to it's top BIG happenings. Great work!

Maryanne
West River, MD


Steve,

You are one very brave man. Go Yankees!

Owen


Steve,

Thanks for what you are doing there on the border. Why the Mexican border hasn't interested news people more in the past 10 years we aren't sure but we can guess.

Concerned Readers
Rockbridge Baths, VA

Steve,

WOW! You are actually here in Laredo/Nuevo Laredo. I am impressed that FOX News sent you. My husband is a native Laredeon, and we moved here in 1997. If you have talked to anyone on this side (American), I am certain that they informed you that hardly anyone goes across anymore. Even our teenage children, who used to "go across" every weekend to party, have wised up and now stay on this side.

Enjoy your visit. Our televisions are hardly ever on anything but FOX News.

Marilyn
Laredo, TX

Steve,

So glad you're back, the withdrawal was painful. Be safe, write faster.

Janet in Birmingham


Mr. Harrigan,

Where have you been? Your blog is my favorite and I've missed it. Growing up in Texas I spent some of my youth in Laredo. Hot. Dry. Good food. Stay away from the fish tacos across the border.

C. Saunders
Maineville, OH


Hi Steve,

I have been a fan of yours several years, since I saw you reporting for Afghanistan when the war was first starting up there. I always enjoy your reporting. I guess one reason that I am particularly a fan is because, although I am an American, I live in Mindanao, Philippines. I know you have been here several times, and it always interests me to see your reports from here. Take care, and keep blogging!

Robert
Mindanao, Philippines


Steve,

Nice to see your blog is back...it has been missed! I had to go google "bastard sauce" after I read it! How are the mosquitoes in Laredo?

Amy
The Woodlands, TX

Welcome back, Steve. I have sorely missed your blogs. They are always fascinating.

Tony in Texas