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Jeff Whitten: Random shots
editor's notes

First, from the “I need to own it” file: Bryan County’s probate court judge is Billy Reynolds, not Billy Williams.

I know that, so I’m not sure where my head was at when I wrote that in a cutline in last week’s paper regarding the swearing in of some school board members. Apologies to Judge Reynolds.

Similarly, Herbie Benton is the guy on the bike in a photo I took in Pembroke last summer, not Herbie Mann or Herbie Bennett.

Sorry Herbie, apologies to you, too. That’s a fine way for me to treat Pembroke’s 2019 Christmas Parade Grand Marshal.

Truth is, my attention to detail has been waning of late, and sometimes I wonder whether my cognitive abilities are starting to slip, not that they ever had all that far to go.

I clearly need to either get on the stick and buckle down or find another line of employment. Trouble is, after 25 years in this business I’m not sure I’m cut out for anything else outside of maybe becoming a male supermodel, which I’m told pays pretty good.

Perhaps my future lies in being a greeter at Walmart. Or picking up cans from ditches.

When I win the lottery I am going to buy a staff for this paper. Or buy this paper and then staff it. We had a staff some time ago –– a couple reporters, a couple freelance folks to cover sports on both ends of the county, even a production person right here in the office and a couple of folks selling ads.

That would’ve been about 2008, I think.

Look at us now. Like many other papers, we’re getting Facebooked into extinction.

I say that sort of in jest, because blaming Facebook or other social media for our troubles is like blaming guns for shooting people or roads for causing fatal wrecks.

Invariably there are humans involved in all bad things that happen to humans, and that includes what’s going on now with newspapers. As has long been noted, here’s something dehumanizing about machines that tends to bring out the worst in folks. That’s true on a highway or social media sight or at a newspaper.

Traffic complaint: I was driving home the other night and had stopped for the light on 144 in front of the old Clydes (now Enmark) at the intersection.

Then some guy in an older-model SUV – a big older model-SUV – decided to take a left into the Enmark parking lot, only he was about 10 feet east of where the parking lot was, so he sort of made some weird kind of figure eight through the stopped westbound traffic and headed east again. It was like, does this guy even have a license? Not for the first time, it occurred to me there are two things that should be illegal for drivers to do in Richmond Hill at that intersection.

The first is to take a left off 144 into or out of the CVS.

The second is to take a left into or out of the Enmark onto 144.

And while I’m on the subject, taking a left out of Cedar Street onto 144 or from Station Exchange should also be made illegal. That there aren’t more wrecks there is a miracle.

Speaking of Walmart greeters, there used to be one of those jokers over at the Rincon Walmart who was anything but happy to be greeting you. He was an older guy and, judging by his accent, from somewhere up north.

Minnesota, maybe, or Michigan or Ohio. Big Ten territory. In any case, the man sounded like he’d rather have been anywhere but where he was, which was at the Rincon Walmart entrance welcoming shoppers of all shapes and sizes.

“Welcome to Walmart,” he’d moan, sort of like that Droopy cartoon character, only more morose. Moroser than that, even.

He was kind of a hybrid between Droopy and Eeyore, except gloomier.

People loved him, of course, or at least I did, because I figured you had to work to sound that pitiful and he deserved credit for it. I think he became something of an institution for a few years back in the 90s and early oughts, bumming out shoppers one welcome at a time.

But there is, I happen to know, a large community of northerners in Rincon same as here, and that may’ve explained his tone. He was preaching to the choir and providing a sort of Rust-Belt reminder that even though you can take the man out of Akron, you can never take Akron out of the man.

Go Gamecocks.

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