For the past nine months, these columns and a big portion of this newspaper has been put together somewhere in a swamp in a state known for its swamps.
Working remotely has brought me great pleasures over those nine months, although it is not always French fries and gravy.
On the positive, my hours are fluid and I have complete ease of movement if I need anything.
I get to hang out with Walter and Yum Yum — every day. While Yummy is in the twilight of his life, Walter has finally reached adulthood enough to where we can take him out in public. He still will show his displeasure for just about everyone and everything, he is chilling more and more every day.
I have a private bathroom and am minutes from the kitchen — a double-edged sword indeed — and I can watch TV while typing.
Of course, I miss terribly our interoffice camaraderie. There is something to be said for human interaction. Whether yelling at each other, laughing hysterically or trying to avoid one of the “nuts and bolts” of society who visit our office on the regular, being together was fun.
Our office was unique, too, for its small size. There are no offices. Everyone is in the same room — one half with the tall ceiling where those who make the money sit, and our half, tucked in the back as far away from customers as possible. I liked our half very much.
The other side? We were like brothers and sisters, at once the best of friends and a moment later heated enemies.
My father used to say that in the “olden days” of newspapers that, “There is a reason they put the ad department on the 2nd floor and editorial on the 9th floor.”
The last newspaper I produced in the Magnolia Street office came exactly nine months ago Saturday. I missed deadline — something I still fret about — walked out the back door and into a private office that also acts as store room, auxiliary clothes closet, a big box of pictures and a dog bed.
Now it is Wednesday morning. An iPhone app is playing “The Bernie and Sid Show,” from New York City. I use talk radio shows to guide my workday, knowing that if a certain host is starting to wind down, then I better jolly well be starting to wind down. Those voices from the phone have replaced Courtney getting on me about the color of the ads, Jim celebrating a Cardinals’ sweep of the Chicago Cubs, Lakyn breezing past me on her way to lunch, Kamron up front talking to a customer through a bull horn. (She really doesn’t use a bull horn, but one would never know it). I missed the chance to espouse my sports writing wisdom — a full tablespoon full — on the new guy Brad Crowe. I do see in him a lot of the same fire Mark and I had when we were his age.
On the day I left the downtown office, Mark had the same desk he had had for years. It was the farthest back, but exposed to anyone who walked in the door. I sat behind a small wall addition Guru Nichols constructed and it provided perfect cover. Mark has since moved into that desk — isn’t it grand!
Now I get by with Bernie and Sid, can watch baseball on TV and even have time to catch some wonderful cable news.
For about 20 years, I have argued that cable news will be the ruin of this country. That sentiment hatched before the rise of social media, which will be the ruin of humankind. Cable news is a close second.
Twenty-four hours per day, they argue, fight, rant and fill empty airwaves. Depending on what number one hits on the remote control, that will be the world view you get. Try watching CNN for 10 minutes on a certain topic — how about Donald Trump — and then watch 10 minutes of Fox News.
Every once and a while, though, CNN will hit a home run in its investigative journalism. They will strike gold when a real source, a trusted source, will give them a scoop so good, it will change the direction of America.
On Wednesday morning, this jewel of a breaking story flashed across the bottom of the CNN screen: CNN source: Trump does not want to be impeached
STOP THE DAD-GUM PRESSES, WE GOT US A GOOD ONE HERE.
At times, I am embarrassed at the national media, which gives the rest of the media a terrible name. I loathe to hear that journalism is dead. On the CNN level? Perhaps. But inside small buildings — or offices from a swamp — journalism is being done and done well.
We still report big stories and get tremendous satisfaction from that. But instead of winding down from the ever-stressful newspaper life at Laurel’s Buffalo Wild Wings playing trivia with long-lost friends, I shut down the computer, turn on Judge Judy and walk the treadmill.
Somewhere, my cardiologist is smiling.
Sean Murphy is managing editor of the Leader-Call. Email him at email@example.com