Irene didn’t dampen spirits, resolve

Published 12:15 am Friday, September 16, 2011

“How’d you make out during the storm?”

We’ve all asked, and been asked, this question frequently of late. “OK … could’ve been worse,” is the reply I hear most often. Do you see this as a testament to the strength, resolve and grateful spirit of the “People of the Pamlico?”

I do.

Why am I uplifted by such a seemingly unaffected response? Precisely because it seems to be such an unaffected response. I am amazed at the numerous friends, family and co-workers – with very serious damage to homes and property – who have shrugged off their difficult circumstances with a smile and is-what-it-is reply.

No biggie.

And then there’s me: I was freaking out about having to pick up pinecones in my yard. (I’m embarrassed to admit that.)

I’m not making light of a tragic situation; rather, I’m pointing out the foibles of the human condition – my own, most specifically.

To my credit, I did work during the hurricane. I was eager to play the role of intrepid reporter and photojournalist. As I ventured out during Irene’s worst, I had feelings of heroic abandon and several moments of self-doubt, “Ray, this is stupid, you could get killed out here; there are now two rivers flowing through Washington – one used to be known as 15th Street – by the way, there’s a tree falling across the road; your photos are terrible, anyway … get back to safety.”

Yes, I want you to think I’m a devoted servant to the community – tirelessly working to ensure real-time updates for readers. Truth is, I couldn’t make it home to Macswoods because trees had blocked the entrance. As a result, I spent many hours sleeping on a very un-sleep-number-like-mattress, otherwise known as the floor of the WDN.

Now, back to my point. I saw severe damage and genuinely feared for the safety of many. I happened upon a pickup truck, nose down in a ditch, water over the hood and halfway filling the cabin. Incredibly, the wiper blades were still moving, lights still on. I could not find the driver. (I would really like to hear from you if you’re reading this, we’ll keep our discussion just between us, if you prefer.)

I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear him say, “I’m OK … could’ve been worse.”

Or, is it just me?

I visited the hospital this week (hooray, University Health Systems!). While there, I found several copies of magazines in the main waiting room for casual reading. I then carried them to another waiting room, elsewhere in the hospital, for continued reading. Does this make me a smuggler? Should magazines remain in the waiting room where originally discovered?

Also, I tore a page out of a magazine while there; vandalism? Continuing my crime spree, I took a lobby issue of “Fabulously Wealthy” – with a doctor’s home mailing label affixed, an apparent discard – is that stealing?

What I’ve learned:

Saying, “I’m sorry you’re mad at me” does not qualify as an apology.

Washington the Magazine

I’m excited to announce the upcoming launch of our new community magazine. (Think ‘Our State’ entirely localized.) It will be the source for 100 percent positive information about our community featuring entertainment, dining, food, history, wellness, shopping, social interaction and profiles of interesting folks and events. It will highlight what is special and unique about living in this area. ‘Washington the Magazine’ will publish six times yearly. If you have photos of recent events, with many smiling faces, we’d like to include them in “The Scene;” Please contact me for an appointment on marketing options (ad space is limited) or for editorial suggestions and ideas.

Ray McKeithan is president and publisher of the Washington Daily News. He acknowledges the efforts of true journalists, Christ Prokos, Mike Voss and Jonathan Clayborne who provided excellent coverage during Hurricane Irene amid personal sacrifice. Contact information: 252-940-4205; Email: