An unexpected night off last night, or a partial one. I was two hours into a seven-hour shift, typical Sunday night, the world of business slowly coming back from the weekend as Monday’s sun moved around the globe. There was a flurry in Australia, not much out of India, Europe ditto and then the equivalent of a five-bell bulletin for the pharmaceuticals industry — the CEO of Pfizer was throwing in the towel, unexpectedly. He said he was tired (which put Madeline Kahn in my head for the rest of the night, singing “…tired of playing the game…”). I got the first few of what surely would be an avalanche of stories into the queue and then my internet went out.
Restarted the laptop. Nothing. Restarted laptop and router. Nothing. Restarted laptop, router and cable modem, ditto. Repeated everything. Nothing. Tried to call Comcast, and the service line was busy. Hmm, a clue. Went on Twitter via my phone, searched “comcast” and got page after page of tweets from “one minute ago” from people using words like SUX and FAIL. Obviously, this wasn’t just our house. So I called the main office in Ann Arbor and got the payroll person/office manager, or rather she would be the office manager if we had an office. She said she thought the überboss was awake, but he was in California. Lucky I have his cell number. Called him, and he covered while I went off to Caribou Coffee and got on their network.
This all took about half an hour.
But Caribou was closing at 10, so the office manager roused the guy who would replace me at 1 a.m., and he agreed to come on three hours early. Meanwhile, we had the Pfizer story dripping into our client’s breaking-news queue right on schedule. My relief IM’d me at 9:55 and took the helm, and I left as Caribou was getting ready to lock up.
Went home, internet still out. But the cable worked, so I watched “Boardwalk Empire” and treated myself to a pre-midnight bedtime. This morning, on Facebook, I saw the guy who replaced me last night, tagged in a photo. It was the first time I’d ever seen his face. (He lives in Texas.)
And I’m telling you all this why? Because it occurred to me during all this what a very modern workplace this is, how very much of the modern world it is. One of our editors is famous for taking a multi-week tour of Europe a few years back, and never missing a shift. He did his research carefully, and made sure he was always near a good wifi hotspot, did his job, and let his bank account reliably refill every payday. He lives across town, in Detroit. Never met him, either, although my friend Michael has, at a party.
“I met your colleague Zack,” he e-mailed.
“Really?” I replied. “What does he look like?”
I know some of you are baffled by all this. (And I know I lost some of you back when I used the phrase “five-bell bulletin.”) I have a part-time job. Title: Editor. I call myself a news farmer. We track news of interest to our corporate clients. We’re entirely virtual, we’re all contractors, and we’re scattered from sea to shining sea. Advantage: Work at home, on your couch, in your jammies and slippers. Disadvantage: Work at home, see no one, communicate with colleagues entirely via IM and e-mail. And so when someone invites you to a party, with actual living flesh-and-blood guests, you’re pathetically grateful, which is how I found myself at a gorgeous Palmer Woods mansion — the Van Dusen, if you’re interested — on Saturday night.
This was part of the Palmer Woods holiday home tour, Palmer Woods being the grandest of Detroit’s grand old neighborhoods, every house a showplace, with a truly diverse population of well-to-do buppies and yuppies and flamboyantly creative and artistic gentlemen. Two of the latter were the official hosts of the afterglow, with their spectacular flower arrangements everywhere and samovars of Pama martinis. And I looked up, and who was leaning against the piano but James McDaniel, whom most of you remember as Lt. Fancy on “NYPD Blue,” but is known around here as Sgt. Longford on “Detroit 1-8-7.”
No, I didn’t talk to him. I think the absolute worst thing about being an actor would be having people flock around you like toadies, telling you how much they like your work. Although Michael did, and said he was a really nice guy.
All in all, not a bad weekend. How was yours?
I’ll tell you what, parties and “Boardwalk Empire” sure beat the news this weekend, which takes us to the bloggage:
Krugman on Bush tax cuts: Just say no:
So Mr. Obama should draw a line in the sand, right here, right now. If Republicans hold out, and taxes go up, he should tell the nation the truth, and denounce the blackmail attempt for what it is.
Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes. Why is this so hard?
Alex says that if I make this column the lead in today’s entry, the headline should be Blow: Me. Whaddaya think? I think the column is stupid, personally.
No, I will not be changing my Facebook profile picture to a cartoon today. As LGM puts it:
It’s an under-publicized historical fact that A. Lincoln was persuaded to issue the Emancipation Proclamation after millions of union supporters changed their Facechapbook avatars to dageuerreotypes of famous abolitionists.
Monday, Monday. Gotta get to it.