A reader called the paper Monday morning and claimed her newspaper carrier hurled The Salt Lake Tribune at her door so hard that it left dents. I was instantly suspicious.
First, because I once delivered newspapers (Idaho Statesman, San Bernardino Sun, Los Angeles Times) and I never got good enough to hit someone’s door from the street.
I could get the newspapers on the roof, in the bushes, under a car and even within reach of a slobbering dog that ripped them to pieces, but never squarely on the porch.
Second, because things have changed in the newspaper industry. While newspapers can still hurt people’s feelings, there isn’t enough heft to one now that it could dent a front door.
Newspapers back in the day were huge. I don’t even like remembering the Sunday edition of the L.A. Times, which could only be delivered by a logging truck. Today’s newspapers are more like newsletters.
So obviously the reader was lying about this dent stuff. I called her. Patti in St. George said she wasn’t kidding about her door. It’s a lightweight screen door and is only 15 feet from the street. There are dents in it.
After that we hit it off famously. She likes my fool’s errands with Sonny but refused to let me shoot any of her wiener dogs — of which she has 62 — out of a cannon. Instead, she offered me a bowling ball that she isn’t using anymore. I promised to pick it up next time I’m in St. George.
Then she said that she isn’t nearly as mad about the dents in her screen door as she is about not getting the newspaper at all after she complained.
"I don’t like missing your articles," she said. "You make me laugh. I don’t know what I would do without you."
That’s sweet. I actually get this "without you" stuff a lot — sometimes gleefully and sometimes with genuine concern. What will I do if/when The Salt Lake Tribune closes its doors for good?
While I remain mindlessly optimistic about the future of the newspaper, I have considered what I would do if the paper went under or (equally bad for me) was acquired by an institution with no reputation for a sense of humor.
Initially, my post-Trib plan was to freelance simultaneously for the LDS Church’s magazine Ensign and either Rolling Stone or the New England Journal of Medicine. I haven’t decided which of the latter two would best suit me.
I’ve also considered retiring and serving another LDS mission. Yeah, I thought that was funny, too. They’d probably call me to staff a one-person church information kiosk in Tehran.
Honestly, my options are limited. I’m too old to do the stuff I once did — soldier, cop, carpenter, rat catcher, car washer, newspaper boy, etc. That’s OK. I hated all those jobs anyway.
My wife says I’ll probably have to do geezer stuff, things like Wal-Mart greeter, professional mourner, medical test subject, public park grumbler, etc.
More than likely I’ll just keeping doing what I’m doing. The paper will continue to evolve and somehow still require the services of a professional addle-pate.
If not, I’ll know I can get some temp work fixing a screen door in St. George.
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