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How Will They Ever, Without Me

Article Date: 
9 July, 2010 - 06:00

In nine years of being a publisher of weekly newspapers, I only went on one vacation. On that week, I went to great lengths to make sure that a friend, a very reliable friend, would make sure the paper was completed and sent to the printer by the deadline.  I went over with him each step in the process over and over until I felt satisfied he understood everything.  He, however, was ready to forsake any and all forms of the written or published word whatsoever.  
At that time, The Morgan County News was pretty much a one man show…one man…and, that was me.  I really enjoyed putting out the paper, even though it was pretty much impossible to get everything in and edited perfectly.  
I took a lot of ribbing about my spelling…even with spell-check, I always missed something.  This led to some pretty embarrassing but funny entries in the paper…One spelling mistake I made in an ad was so bad, that I earned myself the distinct honor of being on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, Headlines…a segment dedicated to comical items readers find in their local newspapers and submit to the show.  
The mistake made for such a funny joke, that Jay could not resist repeating it a few more times over the years.  In another column, on another day, I’ll tell you all about it.  I only have one more visit with my therapist to discuss the matter.
Anyway my point is, and like Ellen, I DO HAVE ONE, that I was absolutely positive that even though I had gone over everything with the friend that I was leaving in charge…let’s call him, Skippy…that ol’ Skippy would still get it wrong.  I hadn’t been on vacation with my family in years, so come headline or high water, I was going.  
On the one hand, I was quite relieved.  On the other, I felt a little less important.  The paper got out without me.  How is that possible?
It wasn’t the most restful vacation that I have ever had, because I continued to obsess about my important role in getting my fellow Morganites their news.  Lo and behold, the vacation came and went, the paper came together just fine, and went to the printer just fine.  
Well, since I have been back at The Morgan County News as the Managing Editor, I have been lucky to work with Don and Anne Anderson as a team in getting out the paper…so much easier…so much better content…so much better quality.  Now I wonder, “How did I ever do it alone?”  I have no idea.
Even as a team, we barely get it done some weeks.  I’m proud to say that I have not missed a pre-deadline workday with Anne and Don to hit our deadline for even a single edition of the 27 newspapers we’ve published together.  I really hadn’t thought about taking a vacation yet, because I’m so much enjoying being back working on the paper. However, I had the thought that if I were to miss working on a deadline night that there was very little chance that they could get the paper out without my help.
Then, this week happened.
I have not been feeling well for the past several days…just felt really run down and tired…took three naps in three days…I hadn’t taken a nap during the day before that in over a year.  I wondered if it was just one more sign of getting older.
Then on Monday, I started to feel even worse.  I spent most of my day in bed, sleeping.  I figured that if I rested, I would be back in shape to get the paper completed and done on Tuesday and Wednesday.  
Tuesday came.  When I got up, I was really feeling ill.  I pushed forward and went into work.  When Don saw me as I was walking in, he said, “Doug, you don’t look very well.”  He knew that when I did not have a reply like, “That’s because I’m shallow,” that I really was in agony.  
I hadn’t slept the night before because a deep pain had begun in my chest.  As the night went on, the pain became worse.  
I was glad when daylight came and hoped to just get busy and try and ignore it.  By the time Don saw me, I was almost doubled over with severe pain.  With Don’s obvious confirmation, I called my doctor and his nurse.   They said to go straight to the emergency room.  I must admit that as I was winding through the canyon to McKay Dee Hospital, I was getting pretty nervous.  
I spent 12 long hours in the ER, being poked, prodded, examined, eye-balled, and drugged.  All of the serious maladies were ruled out, and I am scheduled for a barrage of tests over the next several days.  
I am writing this on Wednesday afternoon.  Don and Anne are working furiously at the newspaper, and I have been banished by the both of them from the office until I feel better and stronger.
I had been banished to my sickbed, but I rebelled.  I went into the office three different times today.  I barely put my toe in the water, when Momma Anne and Papa Don yelled out, “GO HOME!”  They only shook their heads and pointed at the door.  I obeyed and returned to my other “Doug’s Den.”  If I hadn’t been so touched by their sincere concern for me, I would have been offended.  
Thursday Morning—7 a.m.:  The newspaper deadline is at 9:00 a.m., and I’m home in bed wondering what’s happening…
They have held my traditional place in the paper for Doug’s Den…right next to that guy over there, Joseph Walker, in the column next to me…just like every week.  Just a few more words and I’ll send this rambling into Anne to edit.  I hope she’s eaten her Wheaties this morning.
To wrap up my thoughts of the week, I’ll say this…If you are holding this newspaper in your hand, which obviously you are, then I am very lucky to work with people who work hard, care about the newspaper, and have learned everything I could teach them about The Morgan County News over the past seven months.
In fact, I’m hoping you’ll take my word for it, and know how difficult it can be to get a newspaper out…especially at a holiday when many people are out of town.  Then, I hope that as you look through the paper, you’ll appreciate all that is involved in each column inch.  
From attending the meetings and events, coming up with the right questions to ask, digging deeper, writing the stories, taking the photos, selling and placing ads, and then laying it all out until each piece fills a spot to complete the proverbial puzzle…It is work and it is also great and very satisfying when, from nothing at the beginning of the newspaper week, you have a “hot-off-the-presses” crisply folded newspaper filled with the happenings and goings-on in Morgan County.  
 I came back to the newspaper business because I love it.  I love to put the paper together, help Copy Shop customers and take a moment to visit with them, and my association and interaction with the Andersons.  It hurt terribly when my chest started aching.  It’s a different kind of hurt, but it hurts none-the-less when I cannot help get the paper out.  
 So, I will be back in a few days…but until then…I know that the newspaper office, Copy Shop and newspaper are in good hands…And, once again I am reminded that the world continues to spin with or without me. I’m reminded that no one person really ever does it alone.  So many people have come to my rescue when I’m sick or in trouble that the truth is…It’s not them that can’t live without me.  It’s me that can’t live without them.