Monday, May 07, 2018

COLUMN: East Moline

I wonder what everyday people think our newsroom is like? Do you picture a bunch of neurotic, overly-caffeinated chain-smokers wearing fedoras with little cards that say "PRESS," each struggling to be heard over the clickety-clack of typewriters and screaming editors? Wrong -- we lost the hats, like, years ago.

Or maybe you envision one of our popular "fake news" cabals, where me and the rest of the Illuminati gather routinely to sup the blood of the innocent while figuring out the best ways to subvert you and your government THIS week.  You poor sheeple, you probably still think a METEOR killed the dinosaurs. (It was Hillary.)

The honest truth is that our office is probably a lot like YOUR office: mostly boring, sometimes fun, often not at all fun, and very seldom column-worthy. But they say you should write what you know, and all I know this month is that we've moved to a new office in a new town and I'm trying my very best to defy my inner nature and not FREAK OUT.

After umpteen years (and 22 of my gainful employment,) we've parted ways with our long-time home in downtown Moline and have now set up shop in uncharted waters on the edge of downtown East Moline. Whenever change occurs in my life, it's usually my job to curl up into a little ball and assume that the world is ending. But the only thing I'm accomplishing by curling into a ball is making myself late for work. Besides, I bruised my tailbone so bad on the ice that curling is outside my range of motion at the moment.

So I've been taking the optimistic route. Or at least the quiet route. It hasn't been bad. It's just been... different.

• The only real red mark against the new digs is that it increases my commute by eleven minutes each way. That's eleven additional minutes I could be sleeping, and that's a huge infraction in my book. At least, it's eleven interesting minutes commuting alongside the Ben Butterworth Parkway, which offers compelling views of ducks, water, nature, and the occasional beloved seafood restaurant tragically engulfed in flame. (RIP Captain's Table, please come back soon!) 

• The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades. Windows were such a rare commodity in our old building that we notoriously had a light that management would switch on to let us know it was raining outside. Our new building, however, appears to be fully constructed and supported by windows. I'm not kidding. If Ella Fitzgerald cracks ONE high C, we're done for. It's a bit intimidating.

• We've gone from a building with countless nooks, crannies, and hiding places to a one-room cubicle farm. I am now a pod person, communicating with co-workers only when their heads pop over their cubes like prairie dogs.

• I've never even worked on the same floor as our reporters before. Now I share a cubicle wall with them. Specifically, with their police scanner, which every eighteen seconds goes, "KKKK! ROGER 12 ADAM WE HAVE A 10-43 IN PROGRESS. ONE ADAM 19 CHARLIE TANGO VICTOR OUT! KKKK!" I have no idea what any of it means, but it definitely sounds more exciting than what I'm doing.

• We all have new phones at our desks, and they're great, except when they're ringing, which is always. For some ungodly reason, every default ringtone on these phones sounds like a wicked new age harp solo. And when eight of them are ringing at once (as is often the case,) it sounds like a gaggle of Enyas arguing with one another.

• On the plus side, there's nothing more fun than watching my co-workers get co-worked up over having to wait for trains. I hail from Galesburg, a town where you're lucky to get from your kitchen to your bathroom without having to wait for Amtrak to pass. Take it from a professional trainspotter: when the gate comes down and a coal train comes sauntering by, all you can do is accept that you're going to be late, relax, and enjoy the travelling museum of graffiti art before you.

• Dear East Moline, you've been very welcoming. You all seem quite lovely. But your water tastes icky. And I live in Rock Island, so I know plenty about icky-tasting water. Please don't be offended while I stick with Dasani.

Actually, East Moliners, now that I've insulted your water, I need a little help. I don't know much about your town, and I need to find some good lunch haunts in our new neck of the woods. Any suggestions? E-mail me at and let my stomach be your plaything.

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