|Hold the obit, newspapers aren't dead yet!|
I really used to enjoy working Saturday mornings. The office is quiet with no one else around and I can turn on a little music, turn it up a tad if I feel like it and get things done. But somehow John Hammer manages to find a way in and tends to show up when I least expect it. For someone with a weak bladder, that's not necessarily a good thing.
So I came up with a solution. I shut my door. No need to worry about working away and suddenly, boom, there he is. No singing along with the music and he appears out of nowhere. I love it when little solutions work out well.
So it was that I was enjoying a quiet Saturday morning. I had about half my to-do list checked off and needed to take a quick bathroom break. I opened the door and my nose just about ran into the middle of John Hammer's double extra large chest. I wasn't sure what stopped first, my nose or heart. I also wasn't sure if I still needed a bathroom break or not.
"God bless it, John!" I yelled. "How do you do this!"
Hammer muttered a word that sounded a lot like 'sorry.' I don't think I had ever heard him say that before.
"Wanted to talk about your business, Timmons," he said.
Since my legs were still a little wobbly I retreated to my desk and sat.
John Hammer is a guy who's as big as a mountain but quiet as a church mouse - except when he talks. He could be 50 or 75. Hard to tell. Only thing for sure is that he's lived a life that required some hard work. Big calloused hands and even bigger shoulders are a testament to that.
"I heard a guy named Ken Paulson speak," Hammer started. "He had some interesting things to say."
That took me back. Ken Paulson is one of the good guys in the newspaper world. He's done a number of things, including being on the team that started USA Today. I was surprised Hammer knew of him. I suppose you could find Paulson on something like C-SPAN - not that I really could see the big guy tuning in.
"This Paulson guy was talking about newspapers and the fact that maybe they aren't dying off like everyone seems to think," Hammer said.
Hey, I liked the way this was starting.
"He tied it all together with a little story," Hammer explained. "Said that we had a government that started on the run. Somebody shot somebody in Lexington or Concord and all of a sudden all that talk about creating a government was more than just talk. That was in 1775 and all we seem to remember now is that in 1776 we had a country, smooth, plain and simple. We overlook the fact that it didn't quite go that way."
I was trying to think back to history classes . . . without much success.
"Everyone seems to forget that for about a decade we may have won our independence but states were nearly at war with each other. In Massachusetts, we had debtor riots. We had states making deals with foreign countries at the expense of other states. Some states were even printing their own currency. Hell, it's a wonder we survived. And when we rolled out the Constitution, what happened?"
Heck, I may not be the smartest guy in the room, but I figured I could take a shot at this one.
"Well, that was the beginning of getting things fixed," I beamed.
"Absolutely not. I swear Timmons, for a supposed smart guy you sure are stupid. It was just the opposite, the American people rejected it. It caused more problems than it solved. You know what the people wanted?"
I was afraid to try again.
"People said they didn't want to have soldiers in their homes without their permission. They said that they didn't want to be subjected to unreasonable searches. They said they liked their guns and wanted to keep them. But Timmons, you know what else they said?"
I had nothing.
"They said that they demanded a free press. A free press to keep an eye on the people in power. That's how important freedom of the press was at the birth of a nation."
Hammer looked at me.
"I get it that not everyone agrees with what you guys write, but Timmons, I'll tell you this. The Internet, social media and all that doesn't do much other than give me pictures of kittens, puppies and celebrities having wardrobe malfunctions. Yet I'm watching the news and seeing what happened in Ferguson and with terrorism and our national debt and everything else and I'm listening to this Paulson guy and it is clear that America needs newspapers now more than ever. So Timmons, you guys keep doing what you do. It's important."
And with that the big man walked away. I may not like the way he makes an entrance, but the man sure knows how to make a point.
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