Neat, tidy and lost

Everything is in its place. A small stack of paper sits neatly on one side of my desk; a legal pad is at the ready, right in the middle; and a pad of sticky notes is on the right, by the telephone.

It’s very neat and organized. That’s the problem. It’s too neat and too organized. Up until a week ago, I knew where everything was. It was right on my desk – somewhere. And in a couple of minutes of shoving paper this way and that, I could find it.
Not anymore. Now I have to remember where I filed it. Or even if I filed it. Maybe I tossed it into the trash in my zeal to clean off the top of my desk and make the office look a little more businesslike.
This all started a couple of weeks ago when I answered my office phone and a man said, “Hi Wayne, this is Mike – Mike Abernathy.”
“Hi Mike,” I said, quickly trying to think of who I knew in New Albany named Mike Abernathy. I glanced at the caller ID on my phone: “Landmark.” Oh, THAT Mike Abernathy, the president of Landmark, the company that owns the New Albany Gazette.
“Uh, oh,” I thought, “He’s never called before.” I was a little nervous. Actually, I was more than a little nervous. I had seen him at a company conference or two in Kentucky, but the only conversation I had ever had with him was over lunch when I was being interviewed for a job. That was more than four years ago.
Mike quickly put me at ease. He said he was trying to visit some of the papers –Landmark has more than 50 – where he had not been in a while. He had been to the Gazette eight or nine years ago, and a lot had changed in New Albany and Union County.
Well, he put me sort of at ease. I looked at my messy desk and thought I might want to put a few things away before he arrived. The rest of the Gazette building was in pretty good shape, I thought.
But some of my colleagues at the Gazette, led by Susan Smith and Ginger Baranski in our front office and Angie Barmer in the newsroom, started a general cleanup. Ian McKee, our graphics and computer guru, decided to spruce up our central computer area by putting fabric on the counter fronts. And in the pressroom, Mike Foster and Chris Knox made an already-clean pressroom look even better. When they were finished, some of the equipment looked like it did when it was new.
Last Tuesday, Mike Abernathy arrived on a busy Gazette production morning. After spending a couple of hours around the office, we went on a tour of the area. Much had changed since he was last here, with new and expanded hotels, restaurants, businesses and apartments. He was particularly complimentary of our thriving downtown.
After a quick lunch and the tour, he was gone, headed back to the airport in Memphis. And I was left trying to remember what I had done with everything that had been on my desk.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at