It had never happened. Never. Ever. Never had this newspaper not been printed and on the streets on time. Not until last week anyway. Some things like winter storms that include snow, sleet, freezing rain, and everything else slippery and slick and power dousing in particular, we have no control over. Those are what you call God things.
We had a God thing last week.
In our defense, we planned ahead on Friday when the Winter Storm of 2021 was just a “might happen” thing. With that “might happen” business going on I took the “just in case” approach and backed up everything it takes to get this newspaper to the printer in McComb, and to the dealers around the county, and to the U.S. Post Office, and took it home with me. Just in case!
By Friday evening — the one before the storm, not the one after, —wife, Danny, and I had settled into the house at the Ross Barnett Reservoir where we have underground utility service, including the electricity, in hopes that if “might happen” happened we wouldn’t lose power there like we most likely would at the house in Sebastopol. Plus, we do not have Internet service in The Pool.
Then, since that Monday was a school holiday — she’s a teacher — we decided to stay over Sunday night and see if the growing storm would indeed materialize, and as you all know, indeed it did.
Even underground power lines don’t always protect one from losing power if the grid begins to fail, so at 6:00 a.m. Monday I was frantically laying out the paper, proofing (kind of) and shooting pages electronically to the printer. I had determined that my chances of getting the paper finished quickly meant doing it from home rather than risking the risky roads.
Typically this paper is printed around mid-afternoon on Tuesdays, trucked back to our office for labeling and inserting later that evening, and delivered to the Post Office in the dark of the night for the Wednesday mail.
By daybreak that Monday when I was busy at my makeshift desk set up on the kitchen counter the sleet was falling heavily outside the French doors to my left. The harder it fell the faster my fingers typed. It thundered loudly, and there was lightning, and it sleeted some more.
I was concerned that with the storm moving in from the southwest the printing facility would be hit first and could possibly go offline. Time was of the essence.
I didn’t move from that counter except to the coffee pot and the restroom for almost seven hours — I did stop at some point and take a shower — and at 12:43 p.m. on President’s Day the last page was done and the paper was ready to print more than a whole day early...but it was a dollar short.
The print plant was shutting down due to hazardous conditions and when (and if) enough people could make it back in to run the presses quickly became questionable.
As you all know by now, they didn’t make it back in and when they did get there on Wednesday, and get the paper printed, the second round of the Winter Storm of 2021 hit, and last week’s newspapers made it as far as Magee on Wednesday night where they rested comfortably, and dry, until Friday when they finally got home to Forest.
So, our apologies. We know it doesn’t matter whose fault it was, although it was no fault of ours. “Might Happen,” did happen. “Just in case” didn’t make a bit of difference at all, and even if it had, the United States Post Office — like this paper not being printed on time — shut down for the very first time in history, or as far as I know anyway.
Like I said, it was a God thing. Perhaps he is done with that kind of thing for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps not...time will tell.