By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
April 28, 2004
What do you mean, No problem?
Its 8 a.m., Wednesday, April 21, 2004, and Ive just figured out what the problem is.
The problem is No problem.
This revelation came to me this morning when I couldnt find my Athens Banner-Herald. I looked up and down the street and all round the yard. Its usually out there somewhere by 5 or 6 oclock. But not this morning. Now thats 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 didnt 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 didnt 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 dont understand what its 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, Im sorry the press broke down.
And she said, No problem.
Look, Ive worked on enough newspapers to know that when the press breaks down, its a problem.
One reason no problem is a problem, especially for us old folks, you know, is because we arent up on, you know, all these modern means of speaking. We arent, 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? Heres 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. Its no wonder that we have difficulty, trouble problems, if you will communicating. If we cant talk to each other, if husbands and wives dont understand one another, if kids and parents are at each others throats, if the tires flat, if the press breaks down, its a problem. And when confronted with a problem, we ought not to act, believe, wish or say, No problem. Its a problem, and it needs fixing. I dont care what they say. If a person even thinks hes got a problem, hes got a problem. Just saying no problem wont 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 alls 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 doesnt exist. Unless we are directly involved in administering world affairs, we couldnt care less. Its no skin off my back. No problem.
Its an election year at home, and politicians are telling lies and slinging mud, but I dont care and I dont vote. No problem.
Johnny cant read, but he aint my kid and I dont care. The government will fix the schools. No problem.
People are homeless and hungry, but Ive 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 dont know those folks. No problem.
The world is going to hell in a hand basket, but I aint 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. Thats 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 didnt 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 oclock.
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 Youre welcome.
The Youre welcome crowd wasnt born yesterday. You can, you know, count on that. Cool!
Is that the same as hot? Whatever, No problem! And thats the problem. Aint 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
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 dont have the room, they dont 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 doesnt 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 youve 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 doesnt 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, Ive 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.