July 26, 2007

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if I had a few more nicknames? The old saying goes, donít get into a war of words with a guy who buys his ink by the barrel. However that hasnít seemed to stop readers from coming up with catchy titles for the newspaper editor. Whenever I goof, it never fails, someone out there coins a new pet name for yours truly.
Unfortunately, my list of aliases must have tripled after a rough week in print.
The first caller rang the Memphis Democrat asking for Paul Harvey. The infamous radio hostís name rang a bell with Wanda, so she knew it wasnít just a wrong number. When she asked the caller to clarify who they really wanted to speak with, they solved the riddle, by saying they wanted the editor so he could give them ďthe rest of the story.Ē
In my haste to get the paper completed on Tuesday evening, I forgot to finish the jump on page 1 for the story about the 100th anniversary of the courthouse. Iím such a scatterbrain, I initially believed that I had forgotten to continue the story, but the caller pointed out that ďthe rest of the storyĒ was on Page 11. But my jump line at the end of the article on the front page was blank, leaving the reader to guess what page to find the remainder of the news.
We had a good laugh, even though I felt like an idiot. I guess I have been doing this long enough that I am able to get over my gaffs a little sooner. I make mistakes. Some weeks, I make more than others. I used to dwell on these miscues, but unless I start using disappearing ink, come Wednesday afternoon, there is not much I can do about it, except move forward and strive to be better the next week.
While my skin is getting thicker, the call did send up the red flag. The initial call is ultimately a warning, as bad things seem to happen in threes. Actually, I would argue that old saying should be modified for me as three often isnít quite enough.
My next visitor wished to speak with the ingrate. It seems that I failed to express the gratitude of a few folks that participated in the 2007 fair. Unfortunately this is where the multiplier comes into play and my mistake total flies by the three level. Not only did I misplace an entire sheet of thank you notes submitted for publication by fair exhibitors, I also screwed up on the buyers list from the junior livestock sale.
I need to come up with a better system for the sale, as it has become difficult to record the 100 plus items and the buyers, while taking photos of each all the while attempting to bid on a few exhibits to show my support of the event. I get the job done, but invariably there are a few gliches.
I jest about the nickname, but let me tell you I am extremely grateful. I must confess that the folks that brought this series of mistakes to my attention did so with utmost kindness. I know it must be difficult for people to keep coming up with polite methods to tell me that I fouled up, but somehow they do it. Thank you for understanding.
I have learned from these folks. I know that we are all human, so when people call me Fed Ex, ďbecause the newspaper absolutely, positively wonít be there overnight,Ē I hold my tongue. It would be easy to blame the postal system for a few shortcomings when the caller complains about late delivery or no paper in the mail at all.
However, I prefer to be rational. While I pay several hundred dollars a week to the USPS, that is a fair deal when you stop and consider that they deliver nearly 2,000 copies of the Memphis Democrat to homes and businesses all across the United States. So while we have a few trouble spots, where readers have problems getting their paper, that is less than one percent of the picture.
I guess I shouldnít praise them too much, or they will think that the 25-percent price hike that this newspaper witnessed when the new rates went into effect for periodicals on July 15th, was warmly received by this publisher.
Well, I have reviewed this piece numerous times, but Iím sure there is something I will miss that will fuel the next new nickname. Phone lines are open and our operators are standing by.

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