“I read the news today, oh boy … ”
— The Beatles
So there I was in line at the Rockingham Taco Bell, standing behind a tall, wiry old man with white hair and enormous glasses.
My stomach growled as I eyeballed the menu looking to see if they still offered the Double Decker Taco.
The cashier extended a pleasant smile to the elder and gave him his change and receipt.
She said, “You have a good day, sir.”
His response was quick, loud and genuine: “I am — I woke up today!”
Now that’s a great attitude, I thought, a bit ashamed of myself for complaining earlier that day about the chill in the air.
I don’t know about you, but I occasionally have to remind myself to appreciate the things I do have and not focus on the things I don’t.
Prime example: I have a great job.
Hello. I’m your new editor. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
I have been delayed in extending my handshake, but put ‘er there. The community has been very welcoming here in Rockingham, and beyond into the boonies of Richmond County.
I’ve only had a couple of negative encounters with folks, and frankly, they were either drunk or crazy or both.
For the most part, life is good.
I’ve come to the Daily Journal after a four-year stint as the managing editor of the Robesonian, a daily newspaper in Lumberton, N.C. The company I work for, Heartland, owns the Daily Journal and the Robesonian, and a bundle of other daily and weekly newspapers.
I’ve been a newspaper man for more than 33 years, and I’ve been writing this opinion column just as long.
My life’s journey, thus far, has taken me from the winter wonderland that is Michigan to the toasty south that is North Carolina. From tundra to tar.
I was born and raised in Michigan, and lived there most of my life. Of all that time, I was never more than 90 minutes from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up on a narrow gravel road in Lapeer County. On a map, you’d see that I lived smack dab in the middle of The Thumb.
My father built automobiles for General Motors. My mother could operate a sewing machine like nobody’s business. And look, now their awkward freckle-faced son puts words together for a living.
A little about me: Food plays a major role in my life these days, especially since I quit smoking three years ago. With my advanced age, lack of exercise and poor eating habits, I feel like I’m carrying a brand new radial tire where my belly button used to be.
I try very hard to watch the calorie intake. As far as addictions go, Diet Dr. Pepper is my crack. Seriously, how can it taste so good and have absolutely no calories?
But with age — and some extra girth — also comes knowledge and wisdom. I’ve used this column over the years to entertain, to make people laugh at themselves and the things around them, and occasionally to teach … to try and share insights I think will help my fellow man.
I believe everything happens for a reason.
Of the many lessons I’ve learned, this is one of the most valuable: You can’t win every battle, so be choosy when you pick your fights.
And lately I have learned a new lesson that I believe we can all benefit from. This is it: There is no such thing as normal, so you might as well forget trying to get back to it.
I’ve been here since August, and I am sorry it’s taken me so long to say hello. But honestly, I have been so busy editing, studying, learning, teaching, encouraging, and looking for a place to park downtown that I’ve had little time to devote to reviving my column. Other things became paramount. But now, time to take a big deep breath and dive in.
And with that, let me share just one more vital thing I’ve learned: Life is too damned short — don’t wait to use the good towels.
That is all.
— Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached by calling 910-997-3111, ext. 13, or by email at email@example.com.