Monday, January 7, 2008

At around 4:45 on Friday afternoon, the Tribune office filled with the high-pitched beeping sound made by the UPS devices that back up power to our most important computer systems. Around the building, computers suddenly went blank and cries of anguish could be heard from staffers who had failed to save recently.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that we’ve lost power here, but it’s the first time since I started working here that the emergency generator has failed to kick power into the main office.

Being a dutiful, dedicated former member of the IT staff, I immediately offered my services to IT to help them run power from the emergency outlets to the computers that would be needed to output the paper that night. We were fully confident that somehow, someone would get the generator running so that we could bring our servers back online, and maybe get some light into the office before it became too dark to see anything.

That didn’t happen.

As it got darker, I started to worry about what would happen when there was no more light. It was then that I had an epiphany. It was an idea of such magnitude that surely lesser minds would never have been able to comprehend it.

We needed flashlights.

So off I went, HR director’s company credit card in hand to look for flashlights. When I got to the store, I discovered that somehow, someone else had come up with the same genius idea as I had and purchased all of the flashlights in the lighting department. Not wanting to return empty-handed, I thought about where else I might find some, and then as I walked back through the store I noticed something in the toy department.

That’s right, because of my heroic act, the Tribune had at least a little illumination in the form of "Cars" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" flashlights.

Many others played their parts: copy editors Adrienne, Annie and Chrissy and our presentation editor, Joe, had to converge at the home of Jen Robillard, one of our copy editors, and her husband, Andrew. There they created the newspaper on laptops, getting local stories and photos via email. It should be noted that Jen wasn't even scheduled to work that night, so she truly went above and beyond the call of duty to allow such unsavory characters into her home. Meanwhile, our production department scrambled to find other options for printing the newspaper, including attempting to print in Santa Maria, Fresno and Atascadero. I feel confident, however, that my contribution eclipses that of any other.

In all seriousness though, it was really amazing to see how well our staff handled this difficult situation. Were it not for the hard work and dedication of our editorial, production and IT staff, we might not have been able to publish at all.

Well done guys.