Make that Paper

I may have gone to bed as soon as the race was called last night, but the election is still a pretty big deal around here.  This morning I stopped at the 7-11 on my way to work.  There was one lonely copy of the Washington Times left, and I scooped it up for a friend.  But it wasn’t the paper I was looking for.  I told her I’d check after work at some other places, and I didn’t know what I was in for.

It appears to have been a “problem” nationwide.  The Washington Post sold out early.  It seemed impossible to get the New York Times.

Aware of the second run of the Washington Post, I set out after work around 4 p.m. in search of a few copies.  I checked near my office and had no luck.  When I reached the grocery store near my house, I learned that some people had been camped out at the front of the store since 3 p.m.  I left the grocery store at 6, and I admit that I did a little shopping while I waited for word of a delivery.  They said over and over that they didn’t know when the papers would arrive.

I moved down toward the District itself, knowing I had a better chance of getting a paper within the city limits.  People were double parked at the 7-11 waiting in line for delivery there.  I went to CVS, parked very illegally, and stood in line for another hour in a line that snaked around the store.  Everyone was friendly and the time passed quickly, but when 7 p.m. hit I didn’t think it was any use to wait around.  Who knew when the papers would arrive?  CVS sure didn’t have a clue.  No one had a clue.

I went home, feeling kind of dejected.  I have to admit that on the way home I did the skeezy thing and tried to scope out the driveways.  If anyone was on vacation and didn’t pick up their paper, it was mine.  But no.  No random papers laying in soggy driveways.  

Then my roommate called to ask for a ride home from the Metro station.  I had said earlier that I would do it, so I put my dinner back in the microwave and set off.  When she got in the car, I said, “We’re going back to CVS.”  The parking lot wasn’t as crowded and I thought we had a chance.  When we walked in the door, I heard a cashier calling for the next person in line to get a Washington Post.  I yelled something incoherent and took off in a run around one of the front aisles so I could get in line.  I think I startled the cop who had her Segway parked up front.  We could only buy one a piece, and I asked the clerk if I could get back in line and get another.  He told me no, and I wished I had a hat in the car that I could put on and disguise myself with.  No dice.

So what did we do?  Drove down the block to the 7-11.  The line was managable and they had plenty of copies left–and there were no limits on how many you could purchase.  Needless to say there was a lot more yelling and jumping around to be had as I bought three.  Yep, I bought a single section of newspaper for $1.50, about five times.  Totally worth it.

I’m a sucker like that.  I have all the area newspapers from 9-11, not because I was excited, but because I wanted to remember.  When people from home got elected or reelected when I was working at the newspapers, I kept the newspapers from those days.  And today…today is an amazing day.  Regardless of party affiliation, you can’t really deny the gravity of this election.  I stood in line for almost two hours to cast my ballot yesterday–the first time I had ever actually stood in a line that wrapped around a school in order to vote.  Hell, I had never stood in a line five deep to vote.

And as someone who still works with newspapers on a daily basis, the popularity of the printed word today blew my mind.  This isn’t going to save the newspaper industry–far from it.  But it’s a glimmer of hope, because not only do people want to remember history the way that my geeky history-major self does, but also because people want to remember the day on paper, like generations before us.  For once, we’re not trying to get ahead of ourselves.


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