Someone said there’s more to life than just work

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Ever been told you’re too serious? You know… someone came up to you and said, "Lighten up, dude."

Pardon. "Lighten up, fellow."

See, that’s what I’m talking about. Stick with "dude." Apparently, that’s a much cooler way of talking, which goes a long way toward dispelling the perception that you’re too serious.

Email newsletter signup

Come to think of it, such advanced terminology as "dispelling" and "perception" exhibit a connotation…

Oh, never mind.

Let’s start over. Ever been told you’re too serious? Good; me, too. My friends &045;&045; what’s left of them, anyway &045;&045; have a profound way of reminding me that life isn’t supposed to be about work all the time.

Then it really hit me a couple of days ago. A new employee here at The Times asked me what I do in my spare time. He wondered if I knew what is was like to play a round of golf anymore.

Any person who can draw a comparison between life and golf has an uncanny ability to draw my attention, and I began to think about what I actually do outside the walls of this newspaper.

To put it simply: Not much.

Before we go any further, we need a little disclaimer. The contents of this column are not to be reproduced, altered or used as wrapping paper by cheap husbands without the express written permission of Major League Cow Bingo.

Wait. That’s my other job.

What I meant to say is that you shouldn’t misconstrue this column as my means of compiling sympathetic letters of sorrow. We newspaper people have a resiliency matched only by infants and pets that have their names embroidered on their pillows.

Over the past two weeks, I guess I’d have to compare my job to a good dose of whatever was wrong with the people in those Exedrin commercials. Remember them? "I’ve got a headache this big…" Then they’d turn into Inspector Gadget and extend their arms through the cabs of two pickup trucks.

As you know, we’ve increased the workload a little at The Demopolis Times. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend the better half of a Wednesday afternoon parking Precept golf balls into SportsPlex Drive.

Now, I spend the better part of Wednesday afternoons &045;&045; and Wednesday nights &045;&045; parking my fingers on a brand new computer system that makes about as much sense as pro athletes demanding an increase in the minimum salary for players who have spent six years in the league. Don’t get me started.

Along with a new schedule that allows us to produce a five-day daily newspaper, we’ve purchased three new publications. With all of our products combined, our distribution has increased from somewhere around 10,000 to 49,333 (that’s the total distribution of our products on Wednesday, Nov. 12.)

And speaking of Wednesday, Nov. 12… We published an edition of The Demopolis Times on that day. The night before, as I put together the front page, I got this grand illusion that it was Friday. If the cheap hubbies haven’t already used the paper as wrapping paper, go back and take a look. Have a laugh on me. From what I hear, some have made a practice of it already.

And to top it all off. Wait, what exactly are we topping off here? Going back and re-reading the gibberish that has found its way onto the screen, I realize we’re getting absolutely nowhere very fast. That’s OK. I started writing this column at 2:15 p.m. on Friday. (Normally, it takes about 45 minutes to write a column.) It’s now 5:47 p.m. and we’ve got to find a way to make sense out of this thing.

There really is a reason I chose &045;&045; three hours ago &045;&045; to begin this column with the thought-provoking question: "Have you ever been told you’re too serious?"

It’s because we are too serious. All of us. I’m the worst, most of the time. Yes, I absolutely love my job. There’s nothing more exhilarating than to look at a clock on the wall, realize you’ve got 30 minutes to deadline, and have to figure out a way to write a story that almost 4,000 people will read the very next day.

But one of these days, I hope the job isn’t the most important part of the day. As my good friend Dan Wilson told me recently: "Don’t ever tell your mother you’ll call her back later. Talk to her when she calls."

Dan was right, and Mom will probably call after reading this to tell me about a family trip she’d like all of us to take in March 2008. But one of these days I’ll buy more calendars and plan right along with her.

At the end of the day, I guess that’s what really matters, anyway. Take a minute when Mom calls. Excuse yourself from a meeting and talk to a friend if he stops by the office to say hello. Call a sibling before she has to call you to make sure you’re still alive.

And for goodness sakes, try to crack a joke every once in a while. Even if no one else laughs.