First Posted: 1/15/2009
There's a couple of things I don't know.
Why is it that when a car is seen traveling on television, its wheels are spinning backward?
Don't tell me it's an optical illusion. I've gotten that far on my own.
Here's another one: Why is it that the AC unit always breaks down on the weekends, when the repairman isn't sitting by the telephone? That happened again to me on Saturday, so I spent Saturday and Sunday nights in a lather - literally - trying to fall asleep because I don't care what setting the borrowed fan is on or how many Coronas are consumed, a muggy June night in Robeson County can't be overcome.
So I'm on sleep deprivation. If I'm not my usual cheerful self, that's why.
The start to my work week wasn't much better. First thing Monday morning, the phone rings.
Caller: “Mr. Douglas, this is Jimmy, the AC guy. I just checked out your air-conditioning unit and I know what the problem is … (Those three periods in a row form an ellipsis, which indicates that Jimmy gave me a lot of technical speak that I didn't understand, except for when he mentioned “compressor,” which is the word you don't want to hear when the AC repairman calls.)
Me: Prolonged silence.
Jimmy: “Mr. Douglas, are you still there? Hello? Hello?”
Me: “Yes, Jimmy, I am here. That AC unit was installed just a few years ago. Aren't they supposed to last like a decade?”
Jimmy: “Well, I noticed that the warranty on your present unit expired in January …”
Jimmy: “… I'm sorry sir, did you say something?”
Me: “No, Jimmy. Go ahead. I'm sitting down now. What are my options?”
Jimmy: “So we can replace the compressor, which would probably cost about $800, but would come with only a one-year warranty, or we could give you a new unit, which would cost about $1,100 installed, and would have a five-year warranty.”
Me (eyebrows furrowed to indicate deep thought): “I guess I'd better get the new unit.”
Jimmy: “That's what I would do sir. Have it running by 2 o'clock. You'll be cool tonight.”
Me: “Good thing, Jimmy, 'cause I'm running hot right now.”
The new AC unit is the third one I've owned at my home since I moved in 1996, which raises the question if there might be a better American dream than homeownership.
I did what I always do when I have a huge unexpected expense - place an empty jar in the newsroom. This one is labeled “Donations for Donnie's new heating and cooling unit.”
So far, nothing.
l l l
A gentleman called on Monday to complain that day's paper did not have anything on Flag Day, which is celebrated each June 14. We had always planned on recognizing Flag Day on Tuesday because doing so on Monday would have made it difficult to hit our deadline.
Anyway, because this man called, we tried to do a little more with Flag Day than normal. He provoked some thought. I hope you saw what we did on Tuesday.
The point is that we don't just ask for suggestions - we listen to them.
In recent months, there have been two major changes to how we handle obits that were prompted by callers, I am currently working to add two new stocks to our Sunday listings that have been recommended, and we have published several stories that were suggested by readers.
Keep the calls coming.
l l l
Have you and your family or a group of friends been on a trip lately that produced some good photographs? Want one published? Bring it to us.
We are planning a new feature for the Features section that will depict photographs that are provided by people who have visited interesting places.
We aren't looking for a picture from the backyard barbecue at grandpa's house. Instead, we are looking for photographs that obviously depict landmarks and celebrated places, like the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower, except the tower's in Paris, which is in France, which is why you shouldn't go there. But I digress.
Anyway, we insist that the photographs be of good quality, either black and white or color is fine. We would hope to provide the names of the people in the photo, and perhaps a detail or two about the trip. And we would like to publish the photograph in a timely manner - not six months after the trip has been completed.
If you are interested, call Managing Editor Tim Wilkins or Assistant Lifestyles Editor Michael Jaenicke at 739-4322.
n Donnie Douglas can be reached at 739-4322, Ext. 104, or by e-mail at [email protected]