The Id and The Odyssey: Episode 49
The last week in March was unseasonable warm. Rich and Sam spent nearly all their spare time chipping and sanding the hull. They caulked the seams. Then they took a day off the next week to seal and paint. Another coat was applied in mid April.
Sam started Rich on various projects, but left it to him to do and finish. Rich spent nearly all his spare time at the boat. One night he slept there.
Rich felt another fundamental shift occurring in his character like the movement of two enormous tectonic shifts of the earth; slowly moving and suddenly locked into place as if meant to be that way forever. “Life should enrich you and others,” Rich thought, “but if not you, than others are first. Happiness comes from what you do for others and not what they do for you. And to distribute that basic premise to others is the gift of teaching self-reliance.”
At night in his room as he read and meditated, large volumes of truth struck Rich as if by lightening and he quickly reevaluated events and people in his life through a new prism of truth. It was a pure world that he longed for when laying in bed at night on the farm in Ohio. “The purity comes from within. I must cast my bitterness aside, but returning is not an option. I could not face the consequences and being a realist, what ever advancements that I had made as an individual, it would soon be destroyed and purged from me by allegations, suspicions, and innuendo.”
“When we do something for ourselves it should be with the idea that the thing we do is merely passing it on the next person,” Sam told Rich one day while working on The Odyssey. “In that way we never die. Even though a century from now, no one may know we exist, but our work, no matter how minute, is perpetual. No one is great. No one does great things. We just do a lot of little things and newspapers make them great.”
In late April Sam called Rich to his office and invited him to sit.
“Rich I’m afraid I’m going to have to find a replacement for you,” Sam said seriously.
The news startled Rich. He quickly reviewed his quality of work and devotion to the job and paper and saw no defect.
“Chuck Masters took a job with a paper in Portland,” he said. “and I want you to take his spot and I can’t have one of my writers sweeping floors.”
“You’re kidding me!” Rich said. “Are you sure?”
“You’ve worked here for over six months,” Sam said. “And have written enough for me to know you can cover a story and write it.”
Rich smiled. “I got one question.”
“Sixty-five a week and you got hospitalization,” Sam said.
Sam and Rich shook hands.
“There’s an empty desk in the newsroom. It’s yours. Go down to LaGare’s Men’s Shop and get a sports jacket, two shirts, and two ties. If you can talk them into it, they might have a two for one sale on the jackets. Tell them it’s on me. And you go buy your own shoes,” Sam said looking at Rich’s ragged tennis shoes with broken and tied laces. “Now get going and be back by noon.”
Rich started out the door.
“Oh,” Sam said. “Earth tones on the jacket. Brown is good and if you get green, dark green mixes with other colors, so I‘m told. Remember you’re a reporter not a flashing billboard.”
“I’ll just ask them what you would buy,” Rich said.
“Smart move,” Sam said, “since I’m buying.”
Rich could hardly believe it. He didn’t feel his feet touch the steps going down the stairs. Leaving The Beacon he turned the wrong way for LaGare’s Men’s Shop.
By noon Rich back and at his desk.
Rita, a woman who worked downstairs in the front office brought Rich a stack of hand written papers. “Thess is weekly items from all the small towns. You have to type them up and edit them and make sure you give it that home town flavor or else some little old lady from Owls Head will be in here beating you with her cane and wondering what you did to her beautifully written article.”
Butch Hagler swiveled in his chair to face Rich. “You’re in the last desk. I was there for two years. If you want to get to the desk in front of me, you got to write the crap. Sam‘s been throwing you bones. Now you got to work.”
Rita whispered in Rich’s ear, “He writes like crap.”
Rich whispered in her ear, “He ain’t gonna rain on my parade.”
“Hey Butch!” I said and he swiveled around again, “Some people call it crap others call it fertilizer.”
He waved his hand swiveled around to his desk and began typing. The head reporter, Terry Anderson, poked his head in the newsroom, “Hey, Rich, welcome aboard.”
“Thanks,” Rich said.
“Look out Rich. Butch is takin’ a crap,” Terry said as if typing.
“Brownnoser,” Butch said to Terry. Then Butch said to himself, “Thinks he’s Pulitzer material.”
Rich was still working when everyone left at five.
Sam came into the newsroom at quarter past five. He sat in Butch’s chair. “How was your first day?”
“Except for Butch saying ‘faster, faster’ every fifteen minutes, pretty good,” Rich said.
“Rita told me about the crap and fertilizer comeback,” Sam said. “Slammed by a cub reporter. Do it two more times and he’ll be your best friend. He’s kind of a bully if you let him. He covers all the disturbance calls the police get at the bars. Mainly because he’s a part of them. He broke a story two years ago about poaching. He investigated and fingered the three boats doing it. He could have been mayor. He was the toast of the town until he wrote some piece that was slanted against the lobstermen of Rockland. What he lacks in prose he makes up in…” Sam chuckled. “Come to think of it, he can’t make up for it.” Sam rocked forward out of the chair. “See ya tomorrow. Just lay those on Rita’s desk when you leave.”
Rich continued typing with a smile. He was warm and dry and not scraping dishes or pumping gas in the rain.
Sam started down the steps. Rich heard him stop and come back up. He tapped on the window to the press room. “Nice jacket, tie, and shirt.”
Rich smiled, waved, and held up his foot for Sam to see the new shoes.