Another year behind us, and thank you for staying

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel

Today marks the end of our 13th year in publication with the News-Barometer. It’s been a great run thus far, and we have all of you to thank for that.

Without you, our loyal readers, there would be no reason to publish this product every week. Without you, our loyal advertisers, there would be no way to publish this product every week.

And now that unlucky 13 is behind us, we look forward to great things in year 14 and beyond.

Little did we know when we opened shop in a tiny space in Big Pine Village 13 years ago that we would still be around now. And again, we have you to thank for that.

Like so many small businesses in the Florida Keys, we started on a shoestring budget, racing the checks back to the bank every day to continue to publish.

Of course, there are times we still do that.

We opened within a week of our good friends Marshall and Krista at Fast Action Marine who were in the building at the back of the property while we were in the front.

The staff consisted of the two of us and a part-time salesman who is since long gone. Many an evening while the ladies were at home taking care of the young ones, Marshall and I would pool our change to grab a six-pack of beer as a minor celebration that we were still around.

Of course, there are times I still do that.

But for me it’s all been worth it. I have less hair. There’s a lot more gray in that hair. I have more body. My wrists are constantly sore and now my elbows have joined the parade of pain. My bad knees are worse and I have a permanent imprint of my butt in every car seat we’ve owned in those years.

None of that matters, because you are still with us.

There have been tests of our resolve during those 13 years.

When the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 were upon us, a generator became a near-permanent passenger in my old Jeep. I would set the generator in the back floor, with the back seat out, plug in two long extension cords and during the day when we needed air conditioning and a refrigerator at home, the Jeep would be parked in the driveway, cords running into the front door.

At night, when the weather was a little cooler, the Jeep would be parked at the office with the generator cords running into the front door powering our computers so we could get to press.

On a few occasions, we would get stopped during the trip from home to work by someone who needed a few minutes of generator power for this or that.

I used that time to nap.

I’m a great napper. I can grab 20 winks upright in my chair. Of course I snore like a bear in hibernation so I don’t do it without getting caught at it, but I do get a few extra minutes now and then by nodding off in my chair.

Until the last few years, getting this publication delivered to the various places where you can find it has been the bane of our existence.

We had a young man delivering for us in the early years. About the second week, we got a call from him that he had stopped at a bar in Key West on the southbound run and was too drunk to drive back up and do the northbound run. We had to hop in the car and go pick up the papers (we left him) and finish the route ourselves at 5 a.m.

We had another delivery driver that got tired and just drove to our house in the middle of the night and unloaded the newspapers in the gravel under the house. We found them at 6 a.m. the next morning when we got the kids up for school.

We’ve also had our issues with computerized equipment over the years, usually due to lightning or storms in some fashion.

Last year alone we took two lightning strikes that came in through the cable line. In the first we lost a cable modem, a computer, another computer network card and a TV.

The repair guy replaced the cable modem, and we replaced the computer. We have a Macintosh repairman in Key West who got the network card issue fixed, and someone gave me a TV to replce mine.

When they called me to tell me that they had a couple of TVs, I agreed to take both. Our daughter needed a new one in her living room.

If I had known the difference, I’d have taken one.

I used to have a 13-inch flat screen hanging above the desk. Now I have a 32-inch monstrosity sitting on the desk that completely devours the desk top. We put in an extra desk to accommodate the TV.

When I turn to watch it for county commission meetings and such, it’s larger than the entire desktop upon which I normally work.

And just to celebrate our work anniversary, we had our primary software crap out on us the day before this deadline.

So yours truly had to pull nearly an all-nighter to transfer everything from the crap machine to the back up, which isn’t actually a back up as it’s for our other publication, but it has the same software set up—sort of.

I finished that a few hours ago and we were back on the right track

And lucky 13 was behind us.

Thanks for being there with us.

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