For me, the best part has been the two-plus hours I’ve spent at the gym most days since my job as a newspaper editor was eliminated on Feb. 27 due to yet another round of budget cuts. In my past life, I made it to the Muscatine Community Y for an hour every morning if I was lucky.
Today, was a bit shorter than some have been lately — 50 minutes or so in the weight room and 30 minutes on the treadmill. In the middle of sweating through the weight workout, I think I may have made a new friend.
A guy with biceps that made him look like he really belonged in the weight room — the kind of guns I’ll never have no matter how much time I work at it — interrupted me. He apologized for stopping me and said his name was David O’Connor.
“My wife and I really liked your column in the newspaper,” he said. “I’d read it and then give the paper to her so she could read it.”
It’s too bad what happened, he said, adding that I should have been given the chance to write a final column.
I thanked him, told him about this blog and then went back to working out.
This sort of thing has happened many times in the past month. In fact, someone else I’d never met before stopped me Wednesday morning in the hallway at the Y and said much the same thing.
I wish everyone who has lost their jobs for the reason I did could get the same affirmations from strangers. It helps to keep at bay the self-doubt I feel every time I hear about someone who has been out of work for a year or more. I can empathize with them more now than I ever could have before. There are worse things in life than being out of work for a long time, but I hope to never experience them.
Anyway, I started thinking about David O’Connor later in the day. He told me a bit about himself, but I’m deliberately not going to spill all of those details.
But being a nosy newspaperman at heart, I snooped around a bit. And if I found the right David O’Connor, he and his wife, Bethany, have been married for four years. They both grew up in Muscatine and graduated from Muscatine High School in 1998. They both have busy lives and are young enough they may not fit the profile of the typical newspaper reader.
It’s nice to know they were loyal readers. It means we were doing at least a few things right at the Journal.
When it comes to the O’Connors, I am hoping:
1. To lure them and their family and friends into reading this blog.
2. They will still find something of value to read in the Journal.
Newspapers everywhere need as many working, 30-something-year-old readers as they can get.
And so does every blogger.