The Battle of the Newspaper

It’s only a thin daily paper, maybe 12-15 pages many of which are filled with ads. But for years, I have faithfully read the Holland Sentinel – when it was not so good journalism and now that it is pretty good journalism. Sometime during the last year, I started scheduling appointments with the paper. I get my “work” and errands done, eat lunch, and then in mid-afternoon sit down with 8 Hersey Hugs and devour the paper.  

I read every section: the front page local news describing fireworks in a local mayoral election; the local news section full of local business achievements, non-profit collaborations and celebrations, and crime stories; the obituaries, making me aware of the personal pastimes and achievements and families of people I know and strangers I don’t; the letters to the editors and editorial columns both local and those reprinted from bigger papers; the feature stories about sports heroes from our town and surrounding areas, very personal and fascinating. I even read the legal news and announcements.  

Before we moved to a new apartment (down the block about two hundred feet), I called the circulation office for the Sentinel to give them our new address and to ask them to have the carrier put a new bright blue Sentinel box near our door because the apartment complex won’t allow the paper to be just thrown in the driveway or on the grass.  They said it would get done! For sure! !  The day after we moved!!!

Promises, promises.  In the ensuing days, I made 11 calls to the circulation desk:  my paper was not at my new address, the paper was being delivered to the box at the old address; there was no paper at any address, the new box was never put up, the paper was being thrown in the parking lot (which our apartment doesn’t face). The paper was not delivered. The paper was on the grass again.  The only time the paper was delivered properly was the time a sub delivered a Sunday paper because we never got one – surprise!

Soon, I noticed myself getting more irritated and more upset as the Battle of the Newspaper continued. I complained several times to my husband about how unfair! this all was.  Trying to be solicitous, he said, “Well, at least you don’t have to go down 14 steps (as in the old apartment) to look for it.”  He never said that again!

When the apartment maintenance guy came to ask if the toilet was working properly now, I said yes and immediately launched into my experience with the newspaper delivery guy.  He told me that he routinely has arguments with the guy because he routinely throws the paper any old place in the parking lots. He admitted that last winter he just plowed the papers into the piles of snow rather than stopping to pick them up – and the oblivious tenants had to call to complain that they didn’t get a paper that day.

I shared all these stories with the circulation desk. On my 11th call I stated that the delivery person evidently had a grudge against this complex or or the maintenance guy, or he just didn’t like being told what to do.  The person at the desk was horrified that I would vilify their employee like that. On another call, I had said that if I didn’t do something a boss had asked me to do 8 or 9 times, I would have been fired. That person agreed with me.

As I talked this over with my husband and friends, I was told that the only way to fix this was to cancel and then subscribe again a month later. None of them seemed to understand that this would do no good: I would still have the same person delivering the new subscription! A few told me to subscribe digitally and read on line. Only one person sympathized and agreed with the fun of just sitting in the recliner with my Hugs lined up on the end table while holding an actual paper.

And then, finally, (and this is the point of this silly blog), I realized that I had not been acting much like Jesus the last three weeks. The “it’s not fair” moments took over my days and my conversations. If I could’t act civilly, let alone lovingly, I’d had to just give up the paper. If a newspaper was so important to me that I daily lost my cool, I would have to let it go. One more lesson in detachment was obviously needed.

And so my 12th call to the Circulation Desk was to cancel the Sentinel.  I could almost hear the collective sighs of relief that went around that office. And, as is my experience with most detachment soul-training exercises, I really don’t miss the paper. I keep my rendezvous with Hugs while reading a library book.  I buy the paper once or twice a week at the gas station down the road, but I no longer have withdrawal pains. Once in a while, a friend will send me the digital version of an article she thinks I would enjoy, and I am grateful.

Now I just need to be reimbursed for most of October because the cost of the paper was withdrawn on Oct. 15.  The person on the phone promised me that would it be done in a few weeks.

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