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Olson: Never meant to eat your lunch

Published: Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 2:11 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 10:58 a.m. CDT

Many stories about me that I still can’t live down are things that happen when I’ve gone into auto-pilot mode.

The part of my brain that analyzes what’s going on around me will be stuck on some other matter, yet my body is still going through the motions of the more mundane tasks.

Last fall, I was leaving from my sister’s house for an early morning flight to Florida.

I saw a black wallet on the kitchen counter. I grabbed it. I saw another one and absent-mindedly grabbed that, too. One was mine, one my brother’s. I discovered this only after we got to Midway Airport at 6 a.m., while my brother was still snug in bed, dreaming about new cars and video games, probably.

Something I learned: No one will hold on to someone else’s wallet at the airport for you, even if you swear they’ll be there to pick it up in just a few hours. Not the airline, not the police, nobody. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do if you find a wallet at the airport – but my guess is if you lose one at Midway, just start canceling your credit cards and assume you’ll never see it again.

So I flew all the way to Florida with my brother’s wallet, and then FedEx’d it back to him. He had to have it because he was going to be flying home before I returned.

My family members still tease me about this. They might forget about it by 2026 or so, but only if I do something that’s dumber. Which, as my brother probably would tell you, is a distinct possibility.

Then, this week: We’ve got a new addition to our news staff at the Daily Chronicle. Lawerence Synett has taken over as our web editor, and you might have noticed his byline in our reports recently.

Lawerence comes to us from the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, and will be overseeing a lot of our online offerings, monitoring and posting information to our Daily Chronicle page on Facebook as well as our Twitter feed, @Daily_Chronicle.

Lawerence is taking over for John Sahly, who is moving to our Crystal Lake office.

I certainly hope Lawerence is happy here. I really didn’t mean to eat his lunch this week.

But I did.

Honest mistake: I generally bring my lunch to work with me in a bag. The one I usually use is red and says “Daily Chronicle” on it. Funny thing, Lawerence also has one of these bags, a fact that didn’t come up when he started working here.

Around noon Wednesday, my mind was still mulling something over, but my body said it was time to eat. So I went to the refrigerator, pulled out the red bag, microwaved the food inside, started eating it.

Lawerence came into the lunch room, started asking me questions about a story he was chasing. I answered them, blissfully unaware I was eating his lunch right in front of him.

Until, you know, he pointed it out.

In life, there are certain situations where you’d like to just dig a hole and crawl in. That was one of them.

How could I?: Just like many car crashes or mistakes made every day in newspapers around the country, it started with not paying attention. I was preoccupied.

OK, I also don’t pack my own lunch. My wife usually does this, and I probably don’t tell her often enough that I appreciate it. Many days, like a fourth-grader, what I’m having for lunch is a surprise to me. (Although usually there’s no one to trade with.)

Lawerence’s lunch bag looked just like one that I usually use, so I just grabbed it. The food was in plastic containers like ones we have at home. Also, there were croutons, and, you know, who’s going to argue with that?

Luckily, Lawerence caught me before I ate all of his lunch, and he accepted some fruit I had in my own lunch sack.

I still felt pretty lousy about the whole thing, so I bought him a gift card for a local restaurant so he can have lunch out sometime, where chances are slim that I will eat it by mistake.

The moral: Maybe my New Year’s resolution should be to live in the moment more, try to be less absent-minded.

I’ll try not to forget to do that.

Smaller big-name stores: There was an interesting tidbit in Debbie Behrends’ story this week about shoe retailer DSW’s plan to open a new store in the Oakland Place shopping center.

The story noted that DSW’s typical store is about 22,000 square feet, but that this location would be 10,000 to 12,000 square feet.

Roger Hopkins, the economic development consultant for the city of DeKalb, said that the chain recently has been opening smaller stores in smaller communities.

They’re not the only ones taking that approach. The Best Buy electronics store in DeKalb is the smallest one I’ve ever visited. Some people complain about the small stores in our area, but I say a small store is better than no store at all.

There are certainly retail niches yet to be filled in our local economy, and if a few more national retailers were to come into our market with a smaller-than-standard location, they might reap real rewards.

Not about global warming: A trend in news that’s starting to annoy me is the climate change preachers who can take any weather phenomenon and spin it into a reason that climate change really IS happening.

This week it was, “yes, it was cold, but that might be a sign of climate change because there’s less polar ice.”

Hmm. Then there must have been a lot less polar ice in the 1980s, when we had some of the longest cold snaps on record. Or not, huh?

I also saw a story that said, “yes, it was cold this week, but we haven’t had such cold weather since the mid-1990s, and the fact that its been so long is because of ... global warming.”

Maybe. Or maybe it’s just the weather pattern we’ve been in. After all, it seems like we had some very cold and snowy winters in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Maybe a few years from now we’ll be nostalgic for the gentle winters of the late ’90s and the aughts.

Most of the scientific community says climate change is a reality and I believe them. But that doesn’t mean global warming is the invisible hand behind every cold snap, bad storm, tornado, hurricane or heat wave, any more than “Obamacare” is the reason it was hard to start your car Monday.

Truth is, it was just cold.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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