September 20, 2007

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if I was a savvy investor? I would have bought stock in Google way back when, during those early days when the Internet company was just getting started. Another wise stock purchase would have me being part owner in Hallmark or some other greeting card manufacturer. That way I could have been recovering some of my expense for the numerous purchases I have made on the mailings to send to folks apologizing for my mistakes in print and begging their pardon for my typos or other gaffs.

I guess if I really wanted to save a buck, I would just start printing a regular column in the paper each week, highlighting the errors and expressing my regrets for the miscues. Then again, Iím not sure that would be financially feasible either, as I likely would have to print extra pages each week.

Plus that type of editorial will publicly highlight only those mistakes that I realized. Typically I see something that I have screwed up, generally within the first few glances at the paper. I guess that is why I dislike Wednesday afternoons and mailing the papers so much, because it is very difficult to handle so many papers with your eyes closed. Even with my best efforts to ignore the print and overlook the publication, I always seem to find something. Nothing is more aggravating than working so hard to get the paper completed and out on the shelf than to see your mistake five seconds after it is too late to fix it.

Yet, Iím sure there are others that go unnoticed. Thatís why this column would never work, as it would do injustice to those folks who would unintentionally be left off my apology card mailing list.

My first Hallmark purchase this week went to Barbara SMITH at the senior center. As I was preparing the article for the website I noticed halfway through the story I reverted to calling her Barbara Triplett. The good thing about the Internet is I can go into the website any time and fix my mistakes, unlike the newspaper, where you are out of luck as soon as the ink dries.

My next two pieces of correspondence need to be addressed to the football and softball teams.

It appears some folks didnít like my choice of words for the headlines involving a pair of defeats for each team. I like to use a writing tool called alliteration, the repetition of initial sounds in neighboring words, when I write headlines. Thus, I said the Rams Rout, as opposed to Rams Beat, and said Trouncing Tigers instead of Defeating Tigers. I am a sports booster, and as a former athlete I understand the sting created by a loss, so the last thing I am trying to do is rub salt in the wounds by writing inflammatory headings.

While Iím at it, I should send a few cards out to the folks that have ever come into the newspaper and snuffed out their cigarette on the sidewalk before they enter the store. I wasnít trying to single anyone out, and to those of you that felt I was picking on you individually, I apologize.

Sometimes I have blinders on when I sit down at the keyboard to try and put my opinions into print. Iím trying to convey a personal conviction, which is more of an underlying belief than a precise response to a specific occurrence.

Sure I think it would be nice if folks didnít snuff out their cigarette butts on your front doorstep, but that doesnít mean that I plan to crusade against such egregious criminals. If my public manifest makes you stop and think about an action that may have had previously unnoticed impact on your neighbors and your community, then I feel like I have done my job.

Too often, when something like this is published, we see it as a personal attack. I know I can be that way. For instance when I read something negative about hunting or fishing, or contradictory to my personal beliefs, and get upset before I stop and think that the editorial simply is the authorís opinion and isnít singling me out for my opposing viewpoints.

That said, even after hearing from a few people that disagreed with me, I do stand by my opinion, that tossing that butt to the sidewalk is every bit as much littering as if I hijacked a garbage truck and randomly dumped its payload along the road. The saying goes, the world is your oyster, meaning you have the ability and the freedom to do anything or go anywhere. However that freedom shouldnít allow you to make the world your ashtray or your trash can.

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