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Jeff Whitten: Suffering from email overload?
editor's notes

I got 161 emails at work Monday. Monday was a slow day.

Tuesday I had that many and then some at 5 p.m., and was still getting ‘em as the day wore on.

And so it goes. Day after day after day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. Hundreds and thousands of emails.

It’s not that I’m particularly important, mind you, because I’m not. It’s also not that I look at every email, because I don’t.

But where newsrooms were once inundated with mail and faxes and phone calls from or visits by people who wanted to bend your ear until it about fell off about whatever bee got into their bonnet, these days that sort of stuff is mostly done by email.

A lot of it, about 30 percent, I’d guess, is political horse manure from PACs in which one team confuses their opinions with fact and the other team is insane and will get us all killed.

Some of the emails are from people trying to get free advertising. Actually, a lot of it is advertising, which explains why newspapers are in dire straights. And there are a lot of lists.

Unsolicited, one is apt to learn Georgia is the No. 6 state in the U.S. for number of families who can’t get their garage doors open in 30 seconds or less because they’ve got too much junk. Similarly, one reads UGA is ranked No. 8 among major universities for percentage of its female student population which likes to imbibe beer and pork rinds while camped out on the commode.

And so on.

Still, I suppose getting it via email is better than having it delivered by other means, such as inserted in one’s posterior. What’s more, law enforcement incident reports are distributed nowadays by email. It saves me time.

Back in the day I had to go wade through them at the police and sheriff’s departments and once got shown a piece of thumb detectives kept in a glass jar preserved in what I think was rubbing alcohol. I can’t remember who its owner was, only that it got bitten off and spat out and became evidence in a case.

As I recall it was kind of gray and olive-sized, if olives were big and gray and had nails, and detectives seemed proud of it. “Look it that there thumb,” they’d say, and sort of swirl it around in the jar. And I’d say, “ooh.”

No telling where that thumb is now.

Once, back when I had ample time to work on stories, I went through every accident report for a year to see what caused people to wreck. It was an education, and some stand out, like when driver sneezed and her dentures flew out and when she reached down to get them off the floorboard and put them back in she bumped into another vehicle.

Sorry, sneezing out dentures is funny no matter what the setting. That’s why when I retire and get dentures I plan on taking my own stash of black pepper around with me to snort in places like Kroger, so I can sneeze them out and startle other customers in the self checkout line. You never know. Steve Hartman might do an On the Road segment about me.

And back to accident reports. A bee caused one fellow to wreck because he was trying to swat it and drive at the same time and drove into some trees and then got stung. And once some idiots thought it would be funny to drag a dumpster into the middle of a dirt road in the middle of the night. Naturally, before they could get safely away someone not expecting a dumpster in the middle of a dirt road in the middle of the night ran their car smack into it.

This was nearly 30 years ago, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the idiots, now early middle-aged and probably paunchy, are either first responders or weekly newspaper editors, since TV folks are too well groomed to be out there dragging dumpsters around in the middle of the night just for the fun of it.

Speaking of editors: I’m thinking us weekly newspaper editors should get to wear uniforms, or at least neat hats like bullfighters get to wear. I’ve long been tempted to show up at work wearing a set of Mickey Mouse ears and a red cape with a big yellow star on it, because I saw a weird college band in Statesboro called The Stretch Marks, and all four of them looked like 1950s versions of Jerry Lewis. They wore these giant shiny red capes and had the sort of glasses you got issued in the Army. The glasses were known as Birth Control Glasses because, well, they tended to have that effect on the opposite sex.

Kind of like weekly newspaper editors, come to think of it.

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