Getting back into the swing of things

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Isn’t it funny how things just sort of come back to you? As I mentioned in my column last week, it’s been a little more than three years since I last worked here at The Advance, and even though that isn’t a huge period of time, in newspaper years it can seem like forever.

You see, when you enter a new community as part of the staff of its local newspaper, everyone suddenly knows who you are. I can’t recall how many times I’ve used the line, “Please be patient with me. There are thousands of you and just one of me.” That was my go-to excuse for introducing myself more than once to the same person, calling someone by the wrong name or forgetting where a specific place was located, even though I’d been there before.

And then there is the routine. Part of producing a successful newspaper, at least for me, requires getting comfortable with when things get done each week, learning what programs are used to write, layout pages, etc. and just having an overall plan for who does what and when. Believe me, that changes from one place to the next and it takes some getting used to.

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But, I wasn’t at all surprised last week when I sat down behind my desk and felt like I was picking up right where I left off years ago. Sure, the job is a little different, and our editor, Andrew, would probably be a little concerned if he knew how many times a day I have to stop myself from instinctively walking into his office – which was mine for several years. But, aside from remembering which desk to sit at, it all seems to be rushing back to me.

Last week, some of you may have noticed your paper came a little later in the day than normal. We do apologize for that, but every now and again something happens with one of our carriers that cannot be avoided and we have to find a way to pick up the slack. But, we have a great crew here and that was once again proven when our office manager, Allison, told me we needed to run two routes Wednesday morning. Without another thought, she jumped in our truck and she and I set out to deliver papers. I mention it because, at first, I couldn’t remember where some of the streets were. Is Oak Street before Poplar Street? Where does 4th Avenue start again? But, it didn’t take long before muscle memory had me navigating the neighborhoods pretty well. The less I thought about it, the more I made the right turns. It’s funny how that works. And as we delivered papers, I had to smile to myself, as I would read the name of the subscriber and realize I didn’t need the address. I knew where that person lived.

And there’s been a lot of that since my family and I moved back to Atmore. Driving through town, I can’t help but look at certain spots and think, “That’s the parking lot where we all met to hang out after school,” or, “Wow. How many hours did I spend sitting on that lifeguard stand?”

Around the office, it’s the same. I look in one direction and remember painstakingly typing briefs at a now-dinosaur of a computer while working at The Advance in high school. I see an office we now use as a printing room and remember hanging out in there with the then-editor, listening to the scanner while I worked here in college. And, maybe the day will come soon when I won’t sleepily wonder toward my old office in the mornings.

So, while some things have changed, for the most part, being back just feels like…exactly what it is: coming back home.