526 When The Phone Rings at 3 am
The phone doesn't ring around here at three in the morning. That's because we disconnect it out of habit. Every night, unplug. Every morning, plug back in. The cell phones? Awake when we're awake. Asleep when we're asleep.
Five decades of being rung awake at heaven knows what hour. Bobby Kennedy is dead. The NYFD is at a ten-alarmer. There's a riot in Newark or Harlem or Hempstead or somewhere.
It took awhile to figure some solutions. The first, the earliest and the most important was to be up at those kinds of hours as part of the daily routine. A couple of years of overnight newscasts at WOR. Eight or so years of working on the "Today Show," whose news staff starts its day around midnight. Fooled them. They couldn't wake you up if you were already awake and on the job.
The second solution came later: take the phone off the hook. Unplug. Turn off the cell. But by the time that idea presented itself, no one was calling at odd hours, anymore.
Still, the habit persists. Most of the time. But sometimes, one forgets.
And sometimes, in forgetting, the phone will ring at some ungodly hour.
But this time it's not for a reporter to jump into uniform and head for the latest disaster. It's for the nurse/health aid/spouse sleeping peacefully on the other side of the bed.
We've learned our lesson. The phone is unplugged every night now. We never forget anymore.
Around here, when the phone rings at 3am, we don't worry. Leave that stuff to the President. And the news director.
At least the few calls we get are not death threats. That's something that's going on with some of the people who're getting bonuses (boni?) from AIG. And that's just plain wrong.
Whatever the end result of those bulging budget busters, we're talking about human lives here. The bonus-ees may be undeserving. They may be guys you'd want to string up. They may be guys who SHOULD be strung up. But that's a matter for the courts.
Here in America, we pay our debts and honor our contracts, no matter how distasteful. We don't do the vigilante act -- with some notable exceptions.
Rewarding incompetents and incompetence with large sums of cash is both distasteful and wrong. But threatening violence is wronger still.
--We're bailing out the auto parts makers. So, you get to buy your new shocks and struts twice. The first time is at retail, the second is when your taxes pay the factory.
--Actually, you're getting to pay for the new car itself twice for the same reason. But you can fool 'em. Don't buy the car at all, and that way you only pay for it once.
--Bernie Madoff's going to share a jail cell with a doctor caught drug dealing. They'll do business together behind bars. Bernie gives the doc phantom stocks; the doc gives Bernie placebos.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®