The drop-off happened just before noon.
My instructions were clear.
Go to the back door of the government building.
The door would open.
I was not to approach.
The secret government agent would place a brown envelope on the ground.
The door would close.
Then I could proceed to pick up the envelope.
And that’s how we got the crime reports for Page 2A this week.
Yes, that report about the chihuahua versus the pellet gun didn’t just happen on its own.
And OK, Mrs. Satterfield probably isn’t a secret agent (that I know of).
But it still felt like some kind of top secret spy-worthy hand-off.
Though, really, she was just following what is standard protocol these days.
And that’s not just for the county offices either.
Nowadays it’s hard to find a place that’s open for business as usual.
That includes The Nugget.
Last week we officially locked the doors at the office, something we’ve never really done during business hours.
Even during the Nugget Christmas party we’ve had customers enter the office to see Greg wearing a Rudolph the Reindeer suit…and then slowly back away.
Yes normally The Nugget is a grand central station of subscribers, classified takers, letter to the editor writers and regular friendly visitors.
Sometimes they even bring baked goods.
Not last Wednesday.
On Wednesday the doors were locked. And they felt locked.
The staff was out and I was manning the office by myself.
Cars were scarce on Morrison Moore.
It was eerily quiet.
And I started to feel as though the world had ended and everybody forgot to tell me.
Then Ms. Bonelle called.
She cheerfully said hello and said she was checking on her subscription.
We chatted for awhile until she said she didn’t want to keep me because she was sure I was busy and I had many things to do.
“No I’m fine!” I blurted, hanging onto the receiver like a life-preserver. “I can keep talking!"
And so we did.
We talked a little bit about the virus. But mostly we talked about how it’s almost time for bean planting in her garden. We also talked about the weather.
“God bless you,” she said, when it was finally time to hang up.
“God bless you too,” I said.
And I felt better.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. (Because I’m saying it for my own benefit too.)
We’re going to get though this thing.
Right now I’m looking forward to the day when this will all feel like a strange dream. I’m looking forward to the day when I can remind my kids of the times when I used to have to pick up crime reports like a CIA operative. And I’m also looking forward to the day I open those office doors again.
Because I miss our readers.
Even more than I miss their baked goods.
And that’s saying a lot.
But until that day happens, just remember, we’re going to get through this.
Six feet apart.
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