COLUMN: (No) sign of the Times

Harry Caines contributes a weekly column to CacheValleyDaily.com. His column is a work of opinion, and does not reflect the views of Cache Valley Daily, the Cache Valley Media Group, or its employees.

“You’re only as healthy as you feel.”

—Travis Bickle, from “Taxi Driver”

In its long, unparalleled history the New York Times has taken down presidents, exposed the most shameful of government corruptions, reported from every war zone and peculiar place on Earth and uncovered the truth in just about every realm or genre of news that we can fathom.

And yet, in spite of all those superlatives, no one I have spoken to at the Times can explain to me why for four of the last six Sundays (and the last three consecutive) they have failed to deliver to me my Sunday newspaper; nor can they unearth the person in Cache Valley who is responsible for making sure that paper is delivered to me.

Maybe they should get a reporter on this story.

I have stated on many occasions that life is more readily enjoyed when we indulge in aesthetic pleasures. It’s the little things that make us happy. For me, reading the Times is high on that list. It feeds my intellectual snobbery whilst simultaneously allowing me to digest a surfeited meal of knowledge.

Simple process. I order the Times delivered to my house every Sunday. I read it. The Times gets my money and everyone is happy. The symbiotic nature of all things continues effortlessly. I quietly hum that “Circle of Life” song just thinking about it.

But I am Harry Caines…and with Harry Caines nothing is easy!

It is 6 AM on a Sunday morning and I am standing on my front step. The thought of my upcoming bacon and eggs sandwich coupled with my new tradition of walking to Cafe Ibis has me smiling. The morning air is crisp and the sky is blue. All I need to do is pick up my New York Times from the curb and another glorious Sunday is kicked off.

But it’s not there.

OK, well, I start to cook my breakfast thinking that the delivery person is running a tad late. Understandable. Some people are late. I am not. I am reliably 15 minutes early for everything. But others cannot be as perfect as me, so I tolerate tardiness with an affable disposition.

6:30. Breakfast made. Orange juice poured. I look out the front door. No paper. Huh. That’s odd.

I proceed to eat breakfast sitting at my computer. I read many news websites sitting there. I can eat whilst reading off a screen. I make the most of it by playing a Beethoven piano sonata, Number 23, often referred to as “Appassionata”. I can still get my cup fill o’ snobbery despite the Times being late.

It never comes.

I send an email complaining. I am told another paper will be delivered. It isn’t. I call the Times the next day. The woman that talks to me tells me she is sorry.

Oh! That is wonderful! I will sit at my kitchen table with my breakfast and I will read your apology in lieu of the newspaper you failed to deliver to me. That will last me a whole five seconds.

Brief interlude:

Do you become enraged when customer service representatives say, “I’m sorry”? Isn’t that the most insincere platitude ever regurgitated ad nauseum? Just once I want a rep to say to me on the phone, “Wow! We really screwed that up. Let me fix this problem so you can get what you paid for. And by the way, you have the sexiest voice I have ever heard in my life.”

One time!

…Where was I?

Week two I get my paper. All is well. Week three I am in Philadelphia and ask for my paper to be delivered to my father’s house. Done. Then comes Weeks four, five and six.

The Madness creeps in.

No paper. Phone calls aplenty. I am told that no one at the New York Times talks directly with the local depot for Logan, Utah. There are no names. No phone numbers. No one to contact. This is where paranoia meets anal retentiveness. And the crash is spectacular.

Is this a super-shadowy front for the CIA? The NSA? What exactly does this uber-secret delivery depot do when it maliciously fails to deliver my newspaper? Are records kept? Are they watching me right now?

Or, maybe it is a personal affront towards me. You might find this hard to believe, but some people in Cache Valley do not like me. They think I am rude and abrasive. Yeah, I don’t understand it either.

Perhaps the delivery person does not like me. (S)he will take a stand against my churlishness by denying me my weekly newspaper. A small act of defiance that they know will upset me—because I am indeed anal retentive and freak out at such insignificant slights.

Or, maybe someone sits outside my house at 5 AM waiting for my paper to hit the ground so they can snatch it away from me. I doubt it is one of my neighbors. They are generally good people; but if allowed to steal my favorite line from the TV show “True Detective”, none of them is going to split the atom anytime soon. Maybe if there was a DVD box set of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” they would feel compelled to steal. But a New York Times? Just not in their wheelhouse.

There is someone in Logan who stalks me. Maybe they wait outside my house with a knife in their hand ready to plunge it in my chest—but when my paper is thrust towards my door, they steal it and call it a day.

Four weeks. No paper. I know the Times is delivered here. When I do my Sunday morning walk down 100 West I see the Times sitting idle outside of the same house every week. The temptation to steal this person’s paper does not exist…yet. And the intellectual cadre that hangs out at Ibis is reading the store Times when I walk in. So, I sit there, like Oliver Twist with an empty bowl of gruel in his hand, hungry for knowledge.

In the proceeding Sunday mornings of reading news sites online the music I listen to has grown darker. I went from Beethoven to Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” album followed by my Johnny Cash cache—but only the songs where he laments killing his woman and going to jail.

(SIDE NOTE: Do you know how many songs Johnny Cash recorded about killing someone and/or going to jail? 597)

Week four, I listened to the soundtrack for “Taxi Driver”. Bad move.

Am I turning into Travis Bickle? Will I shave my head into a mohawk, traversing the streets of Logan at 5 AM, searching for that delivery person who mocks me with their absence?

I cannot be that bad. Not Travis Bickle bad. It’s not like I write out long, delusional, incoherent diatribes about this problem.

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