Water? Check. Toilet paper? Check. Beer commercial twins bikini calendar? Check. Canned goods? Check.
Yes, many of us went through that very checklist while awaiting the snow storm of last weekend. The realization that every one inch of snow carpeting our coastal region is like six inches anywhere else (little snow or ice removal equipment, a high level of poor drivers, lack of experience, fodder for a column) sends us spiralling into a mode of hibernation and storage. We become chipmunks, reliant on the goods we have burrowed away in our sleep capsules until the wintery night melts into spring.
Wow, that was either flowery prose or just insipid lameness seeping from my keyboard. I guess you could look at it either way. My unquestioned mastery of the English language, combined with a general insensitivity ...
But I digress.
So, like everybody else, I stored. There was bottled water as far as the eye could see, enough toilet paper to mummify Shaquille O’Neal and mountains upon mountains of glorious Spam. “Bring it on, Mother Nature,” I shouted at the sky. “Let’s see what you got.”
(Yeah, I’m much more brave in my column than in real life. Truth be told, as soon as the first snowflake hit the ground I was scurrying under my bed with a flashlight in one hand and a bottle of Bushmill’s in the other. My one trip outdoors that day was a ... nope, can’t think of one trip outdoors at all Saturday.)
But I did need to venture out from my safe and warm home on Monday to get back to the business of the Coastal Point. By that point I had already heard that our publisher had been hospitalized over the weekend with an illness, so I was mentally prepared for the extra work I was about to ... well, quite honestly, heap on Beth Long and Carolyn “Smoke” Fitz. I’d just get into the office, make sure the old heater was cranked up and call Susan at the hospital for a rundown on what she needed from us minions. Easy as pie, right?
Of course not.
While I was sitting at Susan’s desk and getting the lowdown from her on the hellacious schedule she typically maintains on Mondays, my eyes began to race through her e-mails. I guess I could say I was seeing if anything pertinent for the daily operations of the paper were in her files, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. What I was looking for was dirt. Pure blackmail to hold against the publisher when I inevitably tick off the wrong person in my column.
What I found was worse. Much, much worse.
There was an e-mail from Fitz. The message said she was very sick and would not be coming into work that day, but she would have access to her e-mail so we could send things to her at home. Many people would have viewed this as a challenge — an opportunity to show what they are made of and seize the day. A chance to demonstrate what they can do and change some misconceptions about themselves. Me? The only thing I came close to having to change was my pants.
With our other advertising rep out with a broken foot, and Beth up to her eyeballs in work, I frantically looked around the office to see who was left to help out with sales. Reporters.
I love reporters, don’t get me wrong. I was one for a long time, and everybody who knows me knows I love myself more than a person has a right to — I mean, let’s face it, I’m all that and a bag of chips (stop laughing). But reporters should never get involved in sales. Not just because of the ethical ramifications, mind you, but because none of us have any math skills or artisitic flair. At all.
I’ve watched Sam Harvey get lost counting his quarters for a cup of coffee and Tricia Titus not be able to tell the difference between 10 inches of copy and 74 feet when writing a story on the next big bake sale in Bethany. Two extremely intelligent people — two people completelely befuddled by arithmetic. And our newest reporter, John Denny? He covers sports. If it’s not a batting average or free throw percentage ... oh boy.
Somehow, we managed to divy up the responsibilities among everybody in the office and get most of it handled. We even enlisted Susan’s daughter, Emily, to help in our mission. However, for someone as obsessive compulsive as I, it was not an experience I wish to re-live.
Thank God I had all that Spam.