By John Prince
What happens when things break down? Mechanical glitch? Electronic malfunction? Catastrophic failure?
Last Friday there was a failure of the electronic variety. Mailchimp, the email service we use to distribute Breakfast Serial refused to work. We don’t know why. We had paid the bill. Used all the right keystrokes and mouse clicks. Nada. Not going to work, said the Mailchimp software in some softly lit data center somewhere in the world.
Thus, on Friday, no Breakfast Serial. Our readers went hungry. And we went frustrated.
Some people like sameness. On Fridays they get out of bed, make coffee, open their laptop/phone/computer/tablet and enjoy their Breakfast Serial.
Some of us like every day to be different. Although not generally a creature of habit, I like some routine. Especially at breakfast time. I shuffle out of bed, make coffee (a half mug of coffee and half milk). Then I shuffle out to the driveway to collect my Wall Street Journal, glancing over the headlines as I walk back inside. Then a bowl of Honey Bunches with milk, WSJ laid out on the kitchen table, open to the editorial page spread.
I read the first section (back to front, munching and drinking) until I feel satisfied enough to go to work.
It’s a routine and, when it is broken, I feel angst. (It’s all about feelings these days anyway, isn’t it?)
The Journal, like all national newspapers, is printed in various places throughout the country. From New York the pages are sent electronically to printing plants and the regional sections are printed and distributed to places like my driveway.
Once in a while I shuffle out to the driveway only to find it Journal-less! What happened? The printing presses have broken down? A piece of space junk hit the satellite transmitting the electronic files to the printer? The delivery truck was in an accident? The carrier person came down with Covid?
Who knows? There are so many steps along the way, all of which must be synchronized, for my WSJ to end up on the concrete. It’s a minor miracle.
The only choice, if I want my Journal fix, is to go to the electronic edition. But it’s not the same. No feel of newsprint that turns yellow after a few hours in the Florida sunshine. No big color ads from major corporations touting their commitment to diversity, the environment, workers, or shareholders. No missed registration where the new chancellor of Germany has lips askew on his cheek and half of his face is green. The smudgy black ink is gone.
So, if you didn’t find Breakfast Serial in your inbox on Friday, we apologize. Blame Mailchimp. We’re sorry if we upset the start of your day and shattered your morning routine.
We’ll try to do better this Friday.