On Trying to Keep Pace

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

The ditty written long ago is more accurate today than when pen met parchment. The exact wording may not be 100% accurate, but here’s how I remember its four lines: “How much I have seen and how much I have read, of the struggles of man to get ahead.  But me, I ‘m busy–both body and mind–in the struggle to keep from getting behind.”
The ever-so-tight shoe fits. We are heirs to a world in which we slog forward at an ever-slowing pace, sometimes feeling as though we’re the last struggling mortal in life’s parade.

Dr. Don Newbury

Read newspapers, watch TV news and scour social media as much as you choose. You’re certain to be drawn into pools of pessimism on dozens of current topics. Whatever dreary news is being reported, we feel as if we’re sinking in quicksand that has no floor, inevitably sinking lower and lower.
I’ve shared a story for years about the 10-year-old who’d had enough. Struggling with his first homework problem in arithmetic, he is overwhelmed, dreading to face his classmates and teacher the next day. Finally, he tosses pad and pencil aside, whimpering his dreary “druthers” thusly: “I wish I had this homework done, was married and dead.”
Such a view wraps life in a rather small package, does it not?
Many folks today feel the same way about life in general.
Recalled is renowned Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist George Dolan, whose daily front page column delighted readers for some 30 years. He wrote one day of puzzling a neighbor when he ascended his roof.
“Why are you crawling on the roof, George?” the neighbor asked.
“I’m leaving my check for the paperboy,” Dolan responded. “If this is where he’s going to throw the paper, it is also where he can get his check.”
Today, delivery of metropolitan newspapers is worse. A likely guess is that carriers are hard to find. Perhaps they have longer routes and/or maybe work two or even three jobs.
We’d likely be better served by youngsters, but our culture has essentially eliminated them.
Suffice it to say that stars don’t twinkle as brightly in our twilight years as we’ve been led to believe.
Not so long ago, our delivery man left both the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on time and near the same spot in our driveway. For a decade or so, I almost never had a delivery problem.
Now, complaint calls are commonplace. Last week, newspapers weren’t delivered on successive days, and once–had it been a few minutes later–it would have been the Dallas Afternoon News.
I’m not sure much is gained by reporting delivery problems.
However, I do so regularly, realizing each time that I’m talking to a computer. I’m assured that they’re plumb sorry about the problem, will try to do better, make delivery later, etc.
Once recently, I was able to talk to a “live” newspaper representative, who indicated that she’d be happy to provide instructions for accessing the DMN online.
I declined, explaining that I read a book called Computers for Dummies years ago, learning little more than how to use the on/off switch.
I realize that metropolitan newspaper publishers want us to give up printed editions. One day, they’ll prevail. But, not yet.
I’ll read print editions as long as possible. I’ll try to remember that humor is  found even in reporting delivery problems. During two calls recently, I was asked if I’d be willing to take a three-question survey at the end of the calls. I agreed. In each case, there were spans of “dead air,” followed by busy signals. But, no surveys.
All this said, I am still thankful for newspapers. Let’s extend thanks to hard-working editors, reporters and delivery personnel. But remember, NO HUGS. With COVID and other stuff continuing to abound, fist bumps must suffice.
   Dr. Newbury, a longtime university president, continues to write weekly and speak occasionally in Texas and beyond. Contact: 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com<mailto:newbury@speakerdoc.com>. Facebook: Don Newbury.

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