Dear Smiley: In your latest book, your feelings about making money by writing brought back some memories for me.
In 1992, I sent a short, humorous item to Naval Institute Proceedings, which they published and sent me a check for $25.
I was so proud of that I decided to try again, and submitted a “Humor in Uniform” story to Reader’s Digest.
It was published in the May 1994 edition. When the check for $400 came, I was ecstatic.
When I took the check to the bank, the lady there looked at it front and back, paused and looked a little puzzled.
She finally said, “This is from Reader’s Digest.”
I agreed that it surely was. She asked if I would mind telling her why Reader’s Digest would be sending me money.
I explained that I had a story printed in the magazine, and that was what they paid.
She made me tell the story before she would cash the check.
I thought that was so easy I tried again … and again and again. Never heard from them, so I gave up my writing career and went back to work.
Dear Smiley: Remembering old typewriters reminds me of the evolution in office equipment.
Years ago I was blessed to have one of the best secretaries who ever tickled a keyboard, May Dowdy.
When I replaced her old typewriter with a new IBM Selectric, she thought she had died and gone to heaven.
We worked hard every day to manage a significant caseload.
Today, almost 40 years later, I have a network of computers and servers, a laptop with remote access to the office computer, fax machines and a smartphone that allows me to send and receive email.
I work hard all day, and with these electronic conveniences can never really get away from the office.
So I agree with the observation that work increases exponentially with your ability to perform it.
And the irony is that based strictly on numbers, I am handling the same caseload today that I did then.
The merry plagiarist
Dear Smiley: Since you’re devoting a big chunk of your columns recently to good ol’ sayings from good ol’ folks, I hope you’ll let me point out that occasionally there is a new ol’ saying worth remembering.
I found one recently in your paper, by columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson.
She was describing a meeting of the Mystic Order of East Alabama Fiction Writers, a small collection of ladies who get together every now and then in the piney woods to do stuff.
Their head Mystic, she says, “… tries to herd these cats but usually gets tangled in her own lasso.”
Since that description can be applied to a number of people I know, including myself in my relationship with the other members of the often-bumptious St. John Parish School Board, I will probably borrow it from her now and then, also probably without giving her any credit for saying it first — and one day it will become simply another good ol’ saying in one of your future columns.
Dear Smiley: I love my daily Advocate — the printing quality, with smooth newsprint and sharp type and graphics. I haven’t noticed any typos either!
I enjoy reading about other parishes in south Louisiana, and I like the People section.
I’ve experienced some delivery issues; I understand there is overwhelming demand in the New Orleans area.
Other than that, I’m thrilled with my new daily paper!
Dear Smiley: This comes under the heading of “touché .”
My son David, through your kindness, managed to very publicly point out (in the Oct. 5 column) my shortcomings in the area of computer technology.
David, however, despite his command of the latest and greatest technology, is very mechanically challenged.
When he and my beautiful and bright daughter-in-law, Nicole, were in for the LSU-Towson game, David decided that they could fix my automatic garage door.
The signal from the switch or remote had gotten off somehow, and the door would only travel about six inches up and down.
They took the model number, dutifully downloaded the manual and, so armed, set about adjusting the signal.
I came home to find the drive chain draped on the floor of the garage, along with several other parts.
Do it myself
Dear Smiley: I’ve noticed a trend in your columns recently. It seems that you are writing more of your own copy!
I can imagine that this is a lot of work, and I think you deserve a raise.
Dear Andy: I forwarded your note to my editors. I didn’t find it all that funny, but they’ve been laughing over it for days.
Write Smiley at Smiley@the
advocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.