Who among us hasn’t had a bad day once in a while? Bad days happen — I had one just a week ago when I arrived at the office and discovered that all 19,000 copies of our freshly printed Progress edition were victims of a printing error that made page 7 come before page 5 and page 63 come before page 61. Bad days are what make our jobs hard. If every day at the office were a picnic, then we wouldn’t call it work and we probably wouldn’t get paid for it. Everyone would want our job. Most of us endure the bad day and move on to the next day, which usually is not quite so bad.
But not apparently our acting governor, Richard Codey. Reading the text of his announcement that he would not seek election as governor, I got the image of a very hard job indeed, packed with many bad days:
“Too often families get forgotten in the world of politics. The lost weekends, the missed games, the cold and often lonely dinners is the price paid by political families.
“I have worked hard to balance the demands of being Senate President and Acting Governor with my responsibilities as a husband and a father. Let me tell you, it is not easy, and a run for Governor would have made that balance almost impossible.
“I recently sat down with my family to discuss what a run for Governor would mean for us. They have encouraged me, as they always have, to do what makes me happy.
“What makes me happy is time with my family, coaching basketball, dinners with friends, a little golf, and of course public service. After much deliberation I have determined that a run for Governor is not in the best interests of my family, my fellow citizens, and my party.
“I find it impossible to be a good father, a good husband, a good friend, a good leader in the Senate and a good leader for our State if I also tried to be a candidate for Governor. It is way too much for any one person.”
Way too much for Codey, at least, but apparently not too much for Jon Corzine, the Democrat who is running for Governor, or for Doug Forrester, the U.S. 1 business owner who is seeking the Republican nomination. But enough about the governor’s job: Let me tell you about my bad day.
My bad day began outside in the parking lot in the bitter cold, with me making sure our deliverers — more than 20 of them — got the correct number of bundles off to the correct circulation lists. In the middle of all that someone from the office walked down to the truck. In the bundle he had picked up, the pages were out of order. Could that be the case for other bundles, as well? It didn’t take a minute to figure out that it was indeed the case for all the bundles — as the paper was being put on the press down in Philadelphia someone had switched the positions of two plates. No one noticed the glitch.
What to do? My first thought was to demand that the entire job be reprinted correctly. But then I realized that more than half the 19,000 copies were already on their way up and down Route 1 and that trying to stop those deliverers would be difficult. Then I thought twice: How many times have we all picked up a newspaper or magazine and found that a story did not continue on the page it was supposed to continue on? The solution is to flip back and forth a few times until you found it. Our readers, I thought, were at least that smart.
So I let the deliverers continue on their way. Meanwhile I ordered a reprint of 2,500 copies. We could use those for mail subscribers, libraries, and follow-up distribution.
Then I envisioned some poor receptionist, receiving a stack of papers, and having to field questions from readers complaining about the page order. So that most of our readers would know about the glitch I decided to send off a mass fax to the 500 biggest drop-off points on our circulation system. The fax explained the nature of the problem, offered to replace defective copies with corrected ones as soon as they arrived at the office, and then offered this observation:
“In 20 years of publishing U.S. 1 has had its share of errors in printing, but this is the first time that any pages have ever been printed out of order. We hope that this issue will become a very rare collectors’ edition — the likes of which none of us ever sees again.”
So there, a little dash of wry humor to help us all get through. But before I got to crack a smile, I had more glitches to handle. The fax numbers had to be exported to a data base. The fax machines needed to be set up for the fax-out. By the time I had the fax going, the truck arrived from the printer with the corrected copies. Before we could take them, we had to recycle 2,500 copies of the flawed issue. At that point the recycling bin was overflowing.
What can I say — it was a bad day. If I had been the governor I would have quit. But I wasn’t and I couldn’t: I had to chase down wind-blown copies of U.S. 1 and other papers that had spilled out of the recycling container. Knee deep in the snow, in bitter cold, I finally got the job done. I got home in time to have a hot dinner with my boys. If I had known the governor was having a bad day, I would have invited him to join us.