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Thursday, September 6, 2012

On the day that "We will win" became our family's rallying cry

Our little 400-square-foot office had no loading dock. We were not a big newspaper building with a dock out in the back in which you could simply pull a tractor-trailer up to and wheel off a pallet of inserts using a pallet jack.
But that’s what our insert delivery companies thought all too often.
The first time it happened, Nicola was out on a call to an advertiser, and I was just about headed out the door to interview someone for a story. The wind had begun to pick up significantly and a drizzle began to soak the sidewalk in front of our office.
The driver of the 18-wheeler pulled into the alley a half-block away from our office and came in asking where to deliver the inserts.
Ideally, the inserts would come in individual boxes, which could be piled onto a hand truck and rolled into our 36-inch-wide door in three trips.
On this day, though, our inserts were delivered loose, on a shrink-wrapped pallet on which 2,200 individual coupon booklets sat. The driver expected to simply pull up to a loading dock, shove a pallet jack under the pallet of inserts and wheel the pallet 50 feet off his truck and onto the awaiting loading dock. The shipping manager would sign for the delivery, and our driver would be on his way to the next warehouse.
When I told the driver to just bring them right here through this door, he looked at me like either I was simple or he was on hidden camera.
The roughly 200-pound pallet could not have even been hoisted down off the truck, which did not have a rear gate lift. Nor did the driver have a hand truck. That meant he and I had to rip open the shrink wrap, grab a handful of inserts, hold them down in the now blustering wind, cover them as best we could from the descending rain droplets, deposit them wherever we could find room in our tiny office, then run out to grab the next armload.
At best, I could grab maybe 50 at a time, with each armload taking about a minute. At 100 inserts between the two of us, that would mean it would take about 22 minutes to finish the job — in the rain, in the wind.
I called my appointment to reschedule, then headed out to grab the inserts.
Grumbling and increasingly angry, I put my head down and started grabbing inserts as quickly as I could. I began to think to myself, “This is the worst possible situation for this. I’m alone in the office, late for an appointment, it’s raining, it’s blowing wind.” I felt the odds were being stacked against me by some omniscient practical jokester who was out to get me.
And then the thought occurred to me about halfway through, just as I could see a light at the end of the tunnel: “I will win. I will win. Go ahead, throw anything at me. I will do this. I will beat you. I will win.”
When finally all of the inserts were successfully — if only slightly wetly — deposited into our office, making our tiny quarters look like a tornado had struck a printing factory, I breathlessly shook a triumphant fist to the sky and shouted, “I will win.”
From that day forward, "We will win" became our family's rallying cry. Anytime we were hit with a challenge or an obstacle, Nicola and I would smile at each other and say, "We will win."

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