Mondays in our newsroom is a busy day. We catch up with stories not covered on the weekend, and for our paper, we are laying out the paper to go to press on Tuesday.
This Monday was a typical day, we were all working, discussing stories that had happened and were happening that needed to be covered, normal day.
Then the phones started ringing, our messenger service for the office went off with warnings coming down the line that the owner of our paper, Mr. David Black himself was coming along Highway 16 from Prince Rupert, dropping in on all of his offices.
Now, I had never met Mr. Black, but knew he had to be one sharp cookie as he is the founding owner of the largest private newspaper publishing business in Canada, Black Press.
I wasn’t wrong. As I tend to do, I watched Mr. Black as he looked around our humble newsroom. He took in everything. He was tall, statesmanlike I’d say, and soft-spoken, with a ready smile. But it was clear he was familiar with our paper, our stats and wanted us to know we were doing a good job.
It was greatly appreciated coming from him. He is my direct employer and I was glad he made the effort to come see us.
Then he asked for a cup of coffee. We all froze. Did we have any? I jumped up thinking I could wing something together, while he chatted with our Editor, nope he followed me. I almost died.
Yes, we had coffee grounds, found those, didn’t know how much to use as we all bring our own coffee to work. So I stuffed the container full, and prayed. He asked if we had milk… froze again and made the mistake of opening the fridge. Slam quick, pivot, “nope but I have the fake kind” with a laugh. He was affable, so I continued while he looked around.
When the coffee was ready I brought it out to Mr. Black, who was gracious about the very strong-smelling coffee, even had the fortitude to drink some without making a face. I was again impressed. It was quite possibly the worst coffee I had ever served anyone.
What I thought after he left was, he got “the real” us. No airs, no cleaning of the office was done, we made no pretenses, so his experience with this office and all of us was “the real deal” of a working newspaper office.
My only regret was that darn cup of coffee. That poor man had the good graces to thank me for it once again before he left, so in case he comes back, I made one for myself this morning to see what his experience was like. After I ate through the grounds, it was strong enough to stand you up straight and I thought to myself I will run out next time for the perfect cup of coffee, in case Mr. Black ever shows up again.