More Jackson County Opinions...

APRIL 28, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
April 28, 2004

What do you mean, ‘No problem?’
It’s 8 a.m., Wednesday, April 21, 2004, and I’ve just figured out what the problem is.
The problem is “No problem.”
This revelation came to me this morning when I couldn’t find my Athens Banner-Herald. I looked up and down the street and all ‘round the yard. It’s usually out there — somewhere — by 5 or 6 o’clock. But not this morning. Now that’s a problem.
An even bigger problem than not finding the ABH would be not finding the AJC, for which I pay $223 a year just to read the Vent. I read the Vent every morning with my first cup of coffee. I could give up the coffee, but not the Vent. The Vent kick starts my day. Not finding the Vent (to heck with that Page One stuff) would be a serious problem.
But that pales in comparison to a problem that borders on catastrophe. I delivered this epistle to The Jackson Herald office in Jefferson on Thursday, April 22, for publication today, April 28. When I walked into that office six days ago, if I didn’t find my copy of the April 21 paper, with my column in it, I would be devastated.
The only thing that takes precedence over the Vent is my column. I always read it first — every week. I look for errors I made. I look for errors Mike made. I look for errors the typesetter made. I look for errors the proofreader didn’t catch. I look for ways I could have improved that column. I always find some — too late. And I always wonder, “Is anybody reading this stuff?”
If you think that is egotistical, snobbish or a mark of insecurity, you don’t understand what it’s like to want to be a journalist even before you could spell the word or knew what it meant.
So, yes, not finding my paper this morning was a problem. But not down at The Banner-Herald.
I called the circulation department. I gave the lady my name and address and asked, “Is the delivery person sick or on strike this morning?”
“Oh, no,” she replied, “we are running late. The press broke down last night.” She said my paper would be delivered in a little while.
I thanked her and said, “I’m sorry the press broke down.”
And she said, “No problem.”
Look, I’ve worked on enough newspapers to know that when the press breaks down, it’s a problem.
One reason “no problem” is a problem, especially for us old folks, you know, is because we aren’t up on, you know, all these modern means of speaking. We aren’t, you know, cool.
Cool used to mean the opposite of warm. I looked it up again this morning. The first definition confused me: “somewhat cold; agreeably cold; more cold than hot.”
Say what? Here’s what: cool means a lot more than I thought it did a couple of minutes ago. “Cool” takes up eight column inches in my dictionary, and there are umpteen different meanings.
Look, folks, the English language is the most difficult language in the world. It’s no wonder that we have difficulty, trouble — problems, if you will — communicating. If we can’t talk to each other, if husbands and wives don’t understand one another, if kids and parents are at each other’s throats, if the tire’s flat, if the press breaks down, it’s a problem. And when confronted with a problem, we ought not to act, believe, wish or say, “No problem.” It’s a problem, and it needs fixing. I don’t care what they say. If a person even thinks he’s got a problem, he’s got a problem. Just saying “no problem” won’t fix it.
Seven hundred U.S. servicemen and women (100 two weeks ago) have been killed in Iraq since war broke out over there. Unless one of them belonged to us, or unless one of those still over there is ours, most of us go on with our lives as if all’s right with the world. What sacrifices have I made for the war on terrorism and the cause of freedom? None? “No problem.”
On June 30 the Coalition is planning to turn things over to an Iraqi government that doesn’t exist. Unless we are directly involved in administering world affairs, we couldn’t care less. It’s no skin off my back. “No problem.”
It’s an election year at home, and politicians are telling lies and slinging mud, but I don’t care and I don’t’ vote. “No problem.”
Johnny can’t read, but he ain’t my kid and I don’t care. The government will fix the schools. “No problem.”
People are homeless and hungry, but I’ve got mine. “No problem.”
A plant closes in Ohio and a lot of people lose their jobs, but Ohio is a long way from Georgia and I don’t know those folks. “No problem.”
The world is going to hell in a hand basket, but I ain’t in the basket. “No problem.” (Yeah, right).
Down in Lyons, Ga., they are having three high school proms: one for whites, one for blacks and one for Hispanics. “No problem.” That’s because, you know, we live in Jackson County, you know, where everybody gets along. Cool!
Funny, how a late newspaper, a broken down press, and a conversation with Miss Circulation got me started on this tirade.
She didn’t really mean that the broken press was no problem. She was just caught up in the modern means of speaking. Somebody down there knows there was a problem and what needed to be done to fix it.
The paper was printed. Somebody went to the time and trouble to make a special delivery. Anyway, there it was, in the driveway a little after 10 o’clock.
People everywhere are recognizing problems and doing their best to solve them. We need to pray for problem solvers wherever they are, from president to printing press mechanic to paperboy. And we need to say “Thank You.”
Some, depending on their age, will say “No problem.” Others will say “You’re welcome.”
The “You’re welcome” crowd wasn’t born yesterday. You can, you know, count on that. Cool!
Is that the same as hot? Whatever, “No problem!” And that’s the problem. Ain’t nobody got no problems no more. Not even with the way we think, act, talk and write.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
April 28, 2004

The Law Of Junk Vs. Space
I have this theory that people will accumulate as much junk as they have room to hold junk. If they don’t have the room, they don’t accumulate it. If they do, they do. This principle holds for automobiles, garages, attics, basements, yards, pockets and purses, at least.
Let me illustrate. If you have a small pickup truck, the cab doesn’t have a lot of room for miscellaneous items to store themselves until they either break, rot, or disappear through the rusted out hole in the floorboard. With such limited space for you and an occasional passenger, there is a threshold of junk accumulation that you can quickly cross before you run the risk of impairing your ability to safely operate the vehicle. In the back, however, besides leaves and trash and stuff, depending on whether you’ve got a camper top that locks, you can have tools, a cooler, fishing gear, lawn furniture, etc., none of which gets much attention except when you need to move it around to put more junk in there.
I admit this theory doesn’t hold for everyone, since some people out there are apparently a hair more disciplined than myself when it comes to maintaining a hygienic living environment. By some people, I do not necessarily mean my wife, Amy, but every couple of months or so, I will offer to “trade cars” with my beloved for a day, because I know she is physically incapable of riding in a car without four clearly visible floor mats.
She also undermines my theory where her purse is concerned. It is what I would call a medium-to-large sized purse, and yet there is hardly anything in it that is not useful on an everyday basis. I can safely say that if I were a woman with a similarly sized handbag, I would most likely develop an advanced case of scoliosis from hooking it over my right shoulder, which I would treat by simply purchasing a much smaller bag.
As it is, I catch a considerable amount of good-natured grief from my spouse for loading my pants pockets beyond what any tailor would describe as the designed capacity. At any given time, my pockets can and probably do contain keys, a wallet, multiple pens, receipts, other pieces of paper with phone numbers or email addresses, a pocketknife, rubber bands, a cell phone, and about three dollars worth of loose change that will occasionally spill out of my pockets when I sit.
The loose change comes from a different phenomenon that may or may not be related to the aforementioned accumulation theory. When I am purchasing a generic small item, I am concerned with ending the transaction as quickly as possible so that the people in line behind me can get around to purchasing their own goodies. I find that most cashiers can count out change for me faster than I can pick dimes and pennies out of a handful of lint and other items that I dredge up from my pocket.
My wife, on the other hand, will resolutely unzip her change purse and count out the exact amount any time she has an opportunity. The trouble is, with such a high rate of change turnover in her purse, she is frequently a few pennies short of being able to deliver exact change, which, I’ve noticed, is about when she asks if we can “trade cars” for a day.

Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.


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