Here in the newsroom at Sonoma West Publishers we often joke, in that black way that most journalists have, about our “extensive staff.” By which we mean each of our four newspapers has a single editor, who is responsible for not only all the management-type stuff, but we also write the majority of the articles and take the majority of photos you see in your paper every week.
We are fortunate to also have two other staff members who float and help all the papers with content, but we’ve generally all had a slightly bitter laugh when a well-meaning citizen has requested for us to “send a reporter (or photographer) to our event.” We work hard to not respond with, “oh, you mean me? ‘Cuz that’s it. Just me.”
So, it was fairly inconvenient when I tripped and fell in early May while moving goats and broke four bones in my hand and wrist. My right, dominant hand and wrist. The cast, which I wore for seven weeks, made me look like a comic book villain, as it was black and purple, and covered my hand and wrist to midway down my forearm and immobilized my thumb and my pinky and ring fingers. (My 9-year-old son said I should have embraced it more and gotten a yellow one and glued gems to it to look like the Infinity Gauntlet. Maybe next time.)
When one of us goes down for an illness or a vacation it’s a challenge to the rest of the team, because respectively, we’re it. And this “illness” was going to largely eliminate my ability to type, hold a pen, or otherwise produce content for an indefinite amount of time.
What is the sound of one hand typing? Unlike the sound of one hand clapping there is at least a sound, but for anyone remotely skilled at keyboarding, it is an achingly slow, pitiful sound.
An equally slow and painful sound is that of a non-dominant-hand mousing. Unfortunately for them, all my co-workers here at Sonoma West have become painfully familiar with both sounds.
They’ve also had to open a lot of drinks for me, write my best wishes in company birthday cards, and, in one case, mouse a particularly touchy drop down menu for me when the unfamiliar tremors of my left hand kept selecting the wrong item.
More importantly to this story though, they also attended school board and town council meetings in my stead, since while I could go and hear them, I had no ability to produce anything with the information. They also went to events for me.
Having fresh eyes on some of those meetings, players and issues was actually very helpful and interesting, as new eyes bring new perspectives that can be harder to find if you’ve been seeing the same topics at meetings for the last three years. And, giving whoever was going in my place background on a particular issue or person also made me solidify my own knowledge and ideas.
To anyone not familiar, those meetings can be achingly, bum-numbingly long (and don’t think we don’t see you people-who-leave-right-after-public-comment-or-their-issue-du-jour while the rest of us stay for the duration). But they are extremely important, because that’s where virtually everything happening in your town gets decided.
From traffic signals to textbooks, it happens at open meetings and we think it’s important to keep you informed.
But that doesn’t make those meetings any shorter.
So, I’m thankful to all of my coworkers, but especially to Katherine Minkiewicz and Andrew Pardiac, who both went to meetings I was unable to attend due to my injury. Our teamwork, all of us in the news department, is what makes this situation work, and while I’m certainly grateful for the help, I would hope my Windsor readers are too.
And, if you aren’t reading this in the Windsor paper, then know that should your paper’s editor trip like an idiot and maim themselves temporarily, I will be there to help pick up their slack.
I’ve graduated from cast to splint but my thumb is still immobile due to the wrist not healing quite as they’d like. While I’m more functional, I’m still not at full strength, and it will still take teamwork to get the papers out.
—Heather Bailey is the editor of the Windsor Times.