In all of the years that I have been working for the Quay County Sun I have had more than my share of surprises. Last week, though, I can honestly say I was left in awe by the honesty of a stranger.
It gave me a needed lift in a week when I was still recovering from a sad surprise, the unexpectedly final column from Lynn Moncus, who has been a pillar of our newspaper and the community since before I was even born.
Both of these surprises involve the buzzer that alerts us that the front door has opened, and a customer needs our help.
I was at my desk last week doing some research on a few upcoming stories when I heard that buzzer sound. It is a short, low-volume buzz unless the door closes just enough to connect the two grounds and a buzzing symphony begins. It’s nothing fancy, just a means to help us make sure we greet and help all who enter our doors whether to buy a newspaper, buy or place an advertisement, or speak with us in editorial.
Over the years, many have walked through that door and shared some wonderful stories with me. Of course, I have heard some sad stories, too.
Just about everyone from U.S. senators, parents, students, friends, local residents, Route 66 enthusiasts, and one time, even an Elvis impersonator has walked through the front door of the Quay County Sun while I have worked here.
I can think back to the times I stood out front of the building watching the storm clouds darken and unleash their much appreciated rain, flooding First Street. I’ve even seen a blizzard or two and some tornadic activity while gazing from the front door.
There was even a time when I saw a dog pulling a kid on a tricycle. I have no idea where they were going. I do know that they must not have gotten very far, because by the time I grabbed the camera they were long gone.
The front door was also the portal at which I awaited the weekly delivery of the latest Comments From the Canyons. I will miss seeing Lynn Moncus walk through that door and our conversations that about everything from local politics, shared concern for the future of today’s youth, and my favorite, sharing memories of Travis Nelson.
I have to admit, there were several occasions when I was not at the office or arrived late and Lynn was just about to leave and had left or found the front door locked. She would then place her column into the mailbox out front. She would call me to let me know that the column was ‘in the mail’ or remind me the next time she came in that I was late.
In fact the first time I ever talked to Lynn was at the direction of my former Editor Chelle Delaney. It was Tuesday, the day we build the paper. We had a Wednesday and Saturday paper then, but that’s a story for another time.
Chelle told me to call Lynn and ask where her weekly column was—it was needed for the layout. I can still see Chelle’s face when I called co-worker Lyn Berry at the Clovis office and left him a message asking for the column.
Chelle smiled and said “Thomas, I meant call Lynn Moncus our local columnist.”
Needless to say, I was embarrassed and while I was reluctant to call, I dialed the phone and received my very first “Your door was locked and I couldn’t get in, though If you bothered to check your mail you’d know that now, wouldn’t you.”
Monday mornings just won’t be the same at around 10 a.m. any more. Lynn won’t be walking through the door when the buzzer sounds.
Now, I don’t intend this to be a sad column, so I want to cheer things up with an instance of good nature that left me speechless.
I know a lot of you are thinking, “Thomas being speechless? That’ll be the day.”
Well it actually happened and the best part is I don’t even know who is responsible.
As I was saying at the beginning of this column, I was sitting at my desk when the front door opened, in walked a woman who spoke to Veronica, our new person at the classifieds desk.
I knew Veronica would help the woman so I did not get up, then I heard the words that ever thought I’d hear ring out:
“Hi,” the woman said. “I bought a paper from one of your machines and accidentally took an extra one. I didn’t mean to do that and wanted to bring it back to you all.”
The lady set the paper on the stack of papers near the door and left. I was still in shock, looking towards the front of the building and by the time I got up and confirmed what I had just heard with Veronica, the lady had driven away.
Instead of just going on with her day, which must have included more errands, and appointments to keep, she took the time to drive to the office and return that extra newspaper she had taken by accident.
To that lady, it may have just been an extra newspaper she was returning, but to me it has meant much more.
It tells me that even if I can’t meet Lynn Moncus at the door, there are still reasons to be hopeful when that buzzer sounds.
Thomas Garcia is a senior writer at the Quay County Sun. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org