“Who’s dead?” he asks, sitting straight up against the headboard.

“Nobody’s dead; what’s the matter with you?”

“You used to come in here in the morning and tell me who just died.”

“You had that dream again, didn’t you?”

“You did that because you read the obituaries right off.”

“It’s just a dream, Al.”

Morning Sentinel columnist J.P. Devine discusses the newspaper’s digital-only edition Monday at Jorgensen’s Cafe on Main Street in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Scott Monroe

“But you didn’t do that this morning because there was no obituaries section.”

“Al, get up, your friends are waiting for you down at Dunkin’.”

Still, he persists. “There was no obituaries column because there was no paper, because it’s Monday. Doesn’t that matter to you?”

Al buries his head under the pillow and mutters, “Wake me on Tuesday when it’s over.”

In Al’s recurring nightmare, a loudspeaker blares, “Digital-Only Monday will now be extended to Digital-only for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The Sunday paper that includes the color comics, store ads and coupons, and, of course, the very popular J.P. Devine column, will continue to be delivered to your doorstep.”

A friend of mine, wife of a voracious reader, shared this:

“He won’t get out of bed,” she said. “No, he’s not dead, I checked his breathing. He keeps asking what day it is. He knows what day it is. He knows it’s Monday, and he won’t get out of bed. I keep telling him he can get it online, right on his laptop. He won’t listen.”

In Hallowell:

Bernie stands just outside his kitchen door, the wind twisting the hems of his robe.

“Where’s the paper?” Bernie shouts up to his wife. “Somebody stole our paper. It can’t be our neighbors, the neighbors are Republicans, they hate the paper.” He shuffles out to check the garage.

“Do you think the Frame’s dog got it?” He shouts.

“Bernie,” she answers, “it’s Monday, remember?”

She knows. She knows where the paper isn’t, and where it won’t be on Mondays. Women are the masters of adjustment. Bernie will eventually remember that it’s Monday. It just takes guys longer to adjust to change. It’s a story of the power of habit, a tale of things gone and things coming, and how we resist it.

Stepping away from the funny side, the message is clear.

They’ve told us that Digital-Only Monday “saves significant expense in newsprint and delivery costs.” True. Those are the facts, and facts are important, and cold.

There’s a warmer story here.

They’ve said this, “There will be no job reduction associated with this action, in fact, the plan allows us to maintain our current staffing levels in all our newsrooms.” That’s good news.

Staffing levels. That’s management patois for the glorious grunts who bring you the news, the professional writers whose names are at the top of the articles. Read those names, write to them.

These are young, professional men and women who sit in front of computers, sometimes scanning two screens at a time, eating on the fly, keeping a bottle of water beside them. They listen to victims numbed by tragedies and witnesses eager to help, and tell their stories. They suffer council meetings, sweat election night and cover the police log.

Morning Sentinel columnist J.P. Devine inspects the newspaper’s digital-only Monday edition on Monday at Jorgensen’s Cafe on Main Street in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Scott Monroe

This “staff” then puts those words on that paper in front of you each morning, to involve you in the human tragedy and the human comedy.

Bottom line: For that one day when you don’t get your morning paper, you’ve helped keep a sailor on deck to keep the ship afloat.

As a survivor of the smoky ’60s, I remember these words by the great Mamas and the Papas.

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day; Monday, Monday, it just turns out that way.

Oh Monday, Monday won’t go away;

Monday, Monday, it’s here to stay.

 

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. 


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