CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - Life And A Lapsed Policy

(06/26/2001)

By Jack Cawthon

We are not alone! There is life in this quadrant of cyber space, after all! Bob Weaver has entered into it with a column of his own, and I welcome his company. I've been lonesome as I searched and scratched for some sort of identity here, trying to determine what will cause readers to punch in, turn on, tune out-or throw up.

Bob is an excellent writer. I don't know why he ever became an undertaker in the first place, although he may now be serving that noble purpose by burying dead writers like me. I was once so dead that I was lying in state on its own Payroll! Only through the resurrection of the West Virginia Hillbilly and now the second coming of the Hur Herald have I rizen like Lazarus-or Cecil Underwood-into renewed life, such as it may be.

But that is the course and curse that we who don't follow "policies" must face. I thank Bob for calling columnist, or perhaps I should say ex-columnist, Dave Peyton to my attention. I have never followed the Huntington papers, but have always been a Charleston Gazette junkie.

Ah yes, I'm supposed to be a wild-eyed conservative! Voted for Barry Goldwater in '64, which makes me some sort of nut. But don't worry. Society has policies in place to keep people like me away from the red launch button. Sure, I'm breaking with conservative policy by the reading the Gazette-I never inhale the editorials, however-but it is with some feeling of redemption that I sneak over to the "other paper" to read L. T. Anderson, who violated some sort of policy by his switchover.

We all violate policies, some of us better than others. We aren't told what "policy" Dave Peyton failed to follow that resulted in his departure from the Herald-Dispatch, but dispatched he was. I'm certain that he had received at some time or other a memo outlining "policies," including the one he disregarded.

I used to receive "policy memos" at my desk and I often used the back of them to figure out how many more days, months, years I needed until I could take the early retirement option. Sometimes, I now blushingly admit, I wrote obscene thoughts about the boss on them. And I experienced goose bumps whenever I heard Johnny Paycheck sing his country hit "Take This Job and Shove It."

Mr. Peyton tells us on his web page that he is 57 years old. Ah ha, as the late Bob Wills might say, I think I may see the "policy" that he broke. He grew older. Now, this policy prohibition isn't written into the memos; I think there is something in Federal law agin it. It isn't like rape, murder, pillage that can be enforced right out in the open.

The boss will never call you into his office and say openly, "Hey, I can replace you with two young men, or three women of indiscriminate age, for what we are paying you!" However, we can be told, "Hey, you made unauthorized use of the copy machine. That's a violation of company policy. Want to hand in your office coffee mug or have it forcibly taken from you?"

When I was 19 and turned loose with the Glenville Pathfinder I cared little about any sort of policy, including those governing good sense. I called my former teachers incompetent for turning loose someone like me and I turned on the 10 or so Republicans in Gilmer County, the people I had been installed on the Pathfinder to placate. Folks ate it up and thought it "cute."

As I became older I became less cute. Of course, I still continued to violate "policies," including those that government has in place to prevent uprisings by the masses. Lo, as it is said in the Good Book, one day I was confronted by the person in charge of "policies." Someone had been writing all my transgressions down and keeping score. That early retirement that was so elusive at one time was now thrust upon me and I was told not to let the swinging door hit me on my pass when I left. I was luckier than some as I was able to leave with more than the office coffee mug as a souvenir.

I would like to assure Dave Peyton that there is life after such death, even after our policies have lapsed. I found mine here in computer land, although I may be condemned to spend eternity with Bill Gates as reward for my sins. I thank Bob and Dianne Weaver. I assure them I will violate policies here at the Hur Herald-provided I can ever determine what they are.


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