I had lots of company when I woke up the other morning. You were all there, standing around my bed, demanding a correction. It was enough to make me pull the covers over my head and scream, "No mas!" before the fight—that is, the day—had even begun. When I had just about surrendered the day to my fear of what might happen if I went to the office, Ricky Ricardo showed up. "Chris, you'll have some 'splainin' to do!" he warned in his broken English. That did it! Given the choice between the disembodied voices of daytime TV characters made immortal by syndication and the all-too-real workplace cacophony I'd sometimes like to confine to half-hour segments, the office possessed an undeniable allure. Sometimes, being alone with your thoughts is a scary thing.
So off I went, determined to make the best of the worst blind date I could possibly imagine. That isn't to suggest that a newspaper office is devoid of regularity and routine. It is, more accurately, a routine with subtle variations that can inspire terror in the hearts of the most dedicated and optimistic.
Unlike my 'partner in crime,' Dustin Watson, I don't have a state-of-the-art cell phone/device that alerts me to every appointment a half-hour before I need to be there. I'm just a Neanderthal with a desk calendar that neither makes noise nor gives me pleasure...But I have peace of mind and lower bills.
Having already met the biggest challenge of the day—getting to work on time—I headed to Brookfield's 'cop shop' for the daily installment of police news. I have had great working relationships with Brookfield's Police Chiefs and ranking officers over the past 13+ years. But let's face it, when you're getting the details of Brookfield's dumbest crimes first thing in the morning, usually without the benefit of that first eye-opening cup of coffee, your day can only get better. Whether it's a report of officers in hot pursuit of shoplifters throwing stolen merchandise out their car windows to hinder prosecution or a domestic disturbance that turns into a drug possession case when the combatants leave their dope in plain view, it's, to quote Shakespeare, "a tale...full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Upon my return to the office, Dustin is vacillating between singing his rendition of "Why Can't We Be Friends?" and impersonating a BBC reporter giving the latest on Anthony Weiner's sexting exploits across the 'pond'...or was that in the pond!? I wonder if he knows that woman who claimed her pregnancy resulted from taking a dip in the neighbor's swimming pool.
Page 2 of 2 - I am doing my best to focus on a feature scheduled for tomorrow's front page when I'm called to the front counter to take a photo of the biggest finger squash I've ever seen. It would make a great prosthesis for the Incredible Hulk if it was green.
After I return to my desk and tap out a couple of more sentences, I am handed the latest letter to the editor to arrive in the mail; it's from a man who is detailing his latest romantic misadventure and wondering where the "good" women congregate. I file it under "inappropriate" and make a mental note to call him with an explanation about why we won't print it and a suggestion that he appeal to Dear Abby.
Before we know it, it's time for lunch and the daily challenge to eat healthy within an hour without resorting to fast food begins.
Not long after returning from lunch, I'm called to the front counter to take a photo of some raccoons a man has in a cage in his pickup. Just about the time I've snapped a few really cute photo and picked one of the raccoons to name "Rocky," the man tells me he's going to skin them.
The rest of the afternoon is relatively uneventful, but as one of my "housekeeping" duties, I periodically check the numerous mouse traps we've set to put a dent in the growing number of the little rodents who want to make our old building home. Sure enough, we have a mouse in one of the traps. As I reach down to retrieve what I think is a dead mouse, he springs to life, causing me to set a new distance record for the long jump in reverse. Seeing that the little fellow must be suffering, Dustin retrieves his pellet gun to apply the coup de grace. However, neither he nor I have the heart to shoot him and end up flipping a coin to see who will euthanize the mouse. Dustin loses, and so does the unfortunate field mouse.
I sigh as I'm leaving the office for the day and mutter that if we have many more days like this, there won't be a newspaper for the first time in over 100 years. Then I remember that I have an evening meeting to cover...Saved by what some would regard as terminal boredom. Maybe the mouse didn't have it so bad.