By Judi Curry
In 2004 when I broke my back and my then HMO – Kaiser – was unable to find the break along with 5 broken ribs, doctor’s prescribed morphine for the pain to be taken at regularly scheduled intervals. And, within a few short days, I was addicted to morphine and went through horrific withdrawal symptoms while I was being weaned off the medicine.
Last month I received notification that my subscription to the San Diego Union was expiring, and I could renew my yearly subscription for $150.
When I called the office to ask about the possibility of obtaining a “senior citizen” rate, I was told that I could have the paper delivered for $126 a year. I said that was still more than this senior could afford since I was on a fixed income. The person I spoke to informed me that the yearly rate for “non-seniors” is $401 a year and the $126 was really a bargain.
Even after I told her that I would not be renewing my subscription, she never suggested to me the other alternatives that are offered – Sunday only delivery and/or weekend delivery. Either of which I might have entertained if they had been offered.
I have to say that I gave a silent prayer of thanks to Doug Porter of the San Diego Free Press, because he writes a daily column with the following admonition “I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to”. (For those of you that don’t read Doug’s daily column the “Fishwrap” referred to is the San Diego Union.)
I have always been one to scorn magazines like the “Reader’s Digest.” I don’t like others “digesting” my fodder, but I am appreciative of Doug’s “digestion” because we are very similar in our likes and dislikes.
But I had a routine every morning that is lacking now. Upon awakening, I would go into my office, turn on the computer, open the drapes, and then circulate throughout opening the drapes and windows. I’d open the front door and bring in the newspaper; then go into the kitchen and fix Buddy’s breakfast. While waiting for the coffee to perk – I set it to start perking the previous night, I would separate the sections of the paper and throw out those sections I was not interested in reading.
After making breakfast for my students, washing the dishes, and cleaning up the kitchen, I would take the separated newspaper into the living room where the side table next to my chair was replete with the pen I use to do the cross word puzzle; the scissors available in case I wanted to cut out an article or coupon, and just relax reading the paper. (It is so small it barely took me more than 15 minutes to read, cut, and do the crossword puzzle.)
But as much as I appreciate Doug, the withdrawals of not having a newspaper are very much at the beginning of my day.
First of all, Doug doesn’t touch on the Sports pages – and I don’t know for certain that the Padres have lost ANOTHER game until I look at Facebook and find my grandsons in Los Angeles tell me how their teams are doing compared to ours; He doesn’t tell me about the letters to “Dear Abby” and the solutions to problems; He doesn’t report on the Obits – which, in case you haven’t noticed – are printed in one of the biggest fonts the paper uses.
I suspect it must be because those of us looking for our own names in the Obituary pages have eye trouble and have to wear glasses to read well. With the font as big as it is, we don’t have to don our glasses to see if we died overnight.
And, of course, Doug doesn’t reproduce the crossword puzzles for our input every day. I have realized that I will not ever know if Dr. Morgan and his wife have a baby boy or girl; I won’t know whose life Mary Worth is meddling in anymore; I won’t know what current issue “Doonesbury” is discussing in the daily comics. I won’t know what live drama is playing where; what the critics think about it; I won’t be able to compare my restaurant reviews with those that eat out for a living.
So what is the “upside” of stopping my subscription?
I saved $150 right off the bat. If I really get the withdrawal pangs I can always walk to the neighborhood liquor store and purchase a paper. One finds out interesting facts about doing just that. For example, Sunday I walked to the liquor store to buy the paper. I utilize coupons and wanted to see if there were any offered in that edition. (There were.)
Just outside the door was a new ATM machine. I don’t think I ever came that close to a machine without withdrawing money from it. I mentioned to the clerk that it looked so easy to hook up to a truck and just pull it away from the door. After all, it is in the parking lot. That was when I found out that it was sunk into the ground about 6 inches; bolted in with huge bolts; cemented in; and anchored so strongly that it would take a fork lift to even budge it an inch. I never would have known that if I had not stopped my subscription to the paper.
And an even greater benefit may be that I prolonged my life a few more years. Frequently when reading the paper, I would get so angry and irate by what I read in the Manchester News that I felt my blood pressure rise significantly before I was finished reading the article. I don’t do that now.
Doug has summed it up so nicely for me that the anger I would have shown has been dissipated for me. In a way, I miss the adrenalin rush I frequently got when reading the paper. I almost need that rush of energy to get me going in the morning.
I remember when students that I worked with came back to me after going into rehab to kick a drug habit and within a short time were hooked on the drug again. They always talked about how horrible rehab was and how they would never go back on the drug again, only to do so almost immediately. They always said the reason for that was because they “missed it.” They missed the feeling they derived from the drug.
As I am approaching my second week without the delivered paper, I wonder if I will be like my students. Will Doug’s summary be able to keep me off my “drug” long enough to learn to get my news from the internet or will I be as weak as my students still looking for that “morning fix?”
Manchester will not go broke without my yearly $150. And the satisfaction of knowing that I am not adding to his financial standing in San Diego is a nice feeling. I pray for strength to keep my 50 year old habit of reading the newspaper daily at bay, and rely on Doug Porter and his daily column to aid me in obtaining my goal.
And a special thanks to my friends that have offered to save the paper for me. That would be defeating my goal, and the news in the “fish wrap” is already two days old so it would be “older” news when I read it. Of course, you could keep the comics and crossword for me. And if you see my name in the Obits, better save that for me, too. I’d enjoy reading about my demise.