Saturday, June 8, 2013

Who Wants Yesterday's Papers?

It’s pouring at a slant and the raindrops on my Warby Parkers are making it impossible for me to see the small zipper that’s supposed to secure the side window of my Jeep. I take off the glasses and hurl them on the front seat and just then it occurs to me that I’m not going anywhere in this vehicle, because I’ve left the key home. I drove another vehicle, the one assigned to my daughter, to this parking lot in town this morning to leave for her when she gets off the train in Rye.

The slashing rain means it must be publication and delivery day. The usual delivery vehicle of preference will not help, so I reach for my phone to see if my wife can bring a key.

But, I left my phone home as well.

So, I go to the office to call, but, of course, the office keys are home with the you know what key. I ask to use the phone in the law office next door and realize that I actually do not know my own daughter's cell phone number; only my iPhone knows that number and it is home. I leave a message on my wife’s, the DG's, phone.

When in doubt, or just having a bad morning, might as well get a really good breakfast. This seldom means a really healthy breakfast, but one must indulge when the weather, your memory, and your rides let you down. So, over easy, bacon, home fries, and, wheat toast.

Things are beginning to look up, except at meal’s end I realize that I have only a few dollars in my pocket, having given most of my cash to my daughter last evening on the corner of Fifty-Third and First. That was just after parking the car in the wrong (expensive) garage, attending a party, having to leave early due to the DG not feeling well, sitting in the waiting room at Greenwich Hospital Emergency Room, leaving because the wait was too long (we later learned she was fine), waking up groggy and leaving my…well, you already know that part.

The ladies behind the counter at Poppy’s look dubious when I tell them of my cash shortage, like they’ve heard this one a million times before. I’m the Editor of the paper, I begin to explain, reaching for the new edition to show my name, except it isn’t there, because it’s pouring and the Jeep won’t move, and I don’t have keys and I left my phone home. And the ladies think I’m kind of dopey, and they may have something there.

The nice new law intern lets me make another call, and my understanding wife ( the DG has been through many of my off-days), promises to bring a Jeep key and tell my daughter where I’ve left her car key.

People around town often ask me about the future of print. They mean printed newspapers. The funny thing about print is that it really means papers delivered by truck, Jeep, car, foot, hand, maybe even bicycle still in some heavenly places. Except that, some days it’s really not that funny and saying that newspapers are “all dried up” couldn’t be further from the truth. Wet newsprint is nobody’s idea of fun; it’s hard to wash it out of your khakis and rain slicker, to say nothing of your hands.

People may be getting tired of my telling the story of how my first job at age thirteen was stacking and folding papers at Jack’s newsstand at the hyper-busy corner of Continental Avenue and Queens Boulevard; but I tell it anyway. By nine or ten o’clock on Saturday night, when the crowds were leaving both the Midway and Forest Hills movie theatres, my hands would be black with Sunday “News,”  “Times,”  “Trib,”  “Journal-American,”  “World Telegram & Sun,” and “Long Island Press," and I could never put the sections together fast enough for Jack or all those outreaching hands. All of those papers, but two, are long gone, but the print’s still on my hands: shades of Red Smith, Murray Kempton, Russell Baker, and all those sports section batting averages embedded under the skin.

As it happened, my day turned much better, I got that Jeep key, and later walked around town to deliver a few more papers, holding them under my slicker to keep them dry.

This morning, the rain is finally gone, I could see blue from my pillow, and got up, went downstairs to open the door and grabbed today’s paper before putting on the coffee.

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