Fried!

I have received many kind compliments since launching The Syncopated Times in February. One deeply gratifying recurring note of praise is that readers have declared how delighted they are to receive the paper in a timely fashion. That delight, when expressed, has been not unmixed with astonishment.

It’s not unreasonable for subscribers to expect a paper that is readable, attractive, well-written, (relatively) error-free—and on time. I do not take my printer’s deadline lightly. What is a source of some amazement to me is that almost up until the last minute I am making additions and corrections in the layout. In spite of my stated deadline (to contributors and advertisers) of the tenth of the month prior to publication, I receive copy and ads harrowingly late. Yet—somehow—it all comes together.

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Let me say here that I am grateful for your support and encouragement. If you have written me a note by mail and have not received a reply, be assured that I have read it and smiled (if you meant to evoke a smile). It’s just that the plate-spinner does not take a bow in the middle of his act. The plates in question have not stopped spinning since the first day of this year.

What I haven’t determined yet is to how much otherwise a reader or advertiser may expect to be entitled. Until I test that individually, I don’t know whether I’m dealing with a lamb or a lion. Your forbearance is appreciated. My tendency is to be generous, especially when I’ve been in the wrong. I freely dispense lagniappes. The lions might take my easy-going open-handedness a sign of weakness. Even some lambs, so-called, scheme to take advantage of my (so-called) good nature.

When lions push or lambs wheedle, my response may be perceived as unfriendliness. That’s just me wielding my prerogative of lowering the Syncopated Portcullis. None shall pass! In fact, I might be stalling off until I can figure out how to answer without hurting someone’s feeling—or I might be trying to discern whether they actually have feelings.

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A certain character has been demanding what he refers to as a “VIP subscription” as an entitlement. He is every bit as obdurate in his quest as my Portcullis is unyielding. I will admit that I send complimentary issues to a number of people for a variety of reasons. None of those reasons is that I am so cowed by someone’s self-proclaimed importance that I cannot but comp.

I have jibed on The Syncopated Times Facebook page that “people automatically gain ‘VIP Subscriber’ status when they pay for my hard work. All it takes for me to consider you a VIP is to send me a check for thirty dollars.”

Someone close to the person in question has almost certainly seen this remark, but it may not have been relayed. The lion’s roar is terrible even when it does not presage the start of a movie.

Some people simply cannot hear the word “NO.” It is a word I have not used often enough, but I am prepared to shout it through a megaphone, put it in 72-point type on a page in this paper, and leave it as a permanent greeting on my telephone answering machine.

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My correspondent may not recognize the frequency of the syllable within his range of hearing but it exists in his own vocabulary. This I know because I have lately been perusing back issues of the periodical which he used to publish.

In the issue of his paper dated June 2014, he addresses the following eminently reasonable complaint: “Please try if possible to mail the AR to us a week before the 1st of each month. We already had our monthly concert this past Sunday (May 4th) and we received the publication today Monday, (May 5th). Thank you.”

His response will rank forever as a landmark in the annals of Customer Service. “ED NOTE: There are some months when what you are asking for will happen, and some when it won’t. On another note, how would you like us to prepare your eggs?”

I could murder a nice omelet, but I don’t mind them over medium if there’s toast. And my answer is still NO.

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