Last week’s edition of this newspaper might just go down as “the week that almost never was.”

While performing a routine technical upgrade, we experienced a server malfunction which caused us to lose an entire week’s worth of work, including all templates, drafts, and back-issues we’d normally rely on to compile editions consistently since 2018.

To make things worse, the crash happened on a Sunday, which gave us a cool 24-hour window for panic to adequately set in before Monday rolled around, which is typically our day for setting content into their respective spots on these very pages. Being that this particular Sunday was also Easter, we couldn’t count on much help coming from outside sources, as they were naturally “closed for business”.

During times such as these, a newspaper’s only choice is to call on other, fellow newspaper people to gauge what they’ve done in the past when also faced with a crisis, and adopt their methods accordingly. Once I realized the Progressive Era was going to be dead in the water come press time, I decided to call on a friend we’ve learned to keep on speed dial whenever computer problems arise.

His name is Josh, but I like to refer to him as The Monroe Journal’s “best kept secret.” The dude is an absolute savant. No matter what kind of computer problems you’re having, he knows how to fix it. Very much like a physician, Josh is intimately versed on how a computer works as a pseudo-biological creature. He can diagnose and hone in on a problem area with your system down to a cellular, micro-chip level. Where Ctrl-Alt-Del is the NyQuil of technical ailments, Josh is the Command+Prompt.

Dozens of times since I’ve started working here, one phrase has been the only cure to our desperation, “I guess it’s time to call Josh.” Not once has he failed to come to our rescue.

It didn’t take him very long to determine the motherboard on our server computer had become compromised after an untimely power-outage, which rendered those files unretrievable. When anyone else would’ve thrown their hands up and cried, Josh spent hours tinkering around the newspaper office in search of spare parts. Putting together a makeshift Franken-Computer has actually worked for us in the past, but this issue would require a little more grace.

Josh ultimately took the piece of equipment home so he could tamper with it into the night. I waited for his call to announce the procedure was a success. But it never came.

Things weren’t better by the next morning, when I was placed in the position to tell everybody at the office that we would need to start over. I’d have to endure their facial expressions when I broke the news. I’d have to start off the day with bad vibes. I’d have to answer the question of, “why?” several times, when in actuality I didn’t know much about it myself. Worst of all, I had to swallow the worst mental pill: Failure.

If this data wasn’t retrieved soon by a miracle, I was going to have to face the shame of being the first editor at a Progressive Era who’d ever failed to get the newspaper out EVERY week. For as long as anyone can remember, The Era has never missed an issued correspondence to this town, as promised, same time, no matter what. Come tornado, or late-night elections, or winter storm. It didn’t’ matter. The paper was always out.

Naturally, Josh pulled through. A computer shop in Monroeville allowed him to borrow an adapter, which put him on the road back to Camden, and backing up our needed files by early afternoon. Piece of cake. All that worrying for nothing.

The trials never get any easier, do they? Think of all the times you’ve been faced up against something you didn’t think you could handle. The fear of failure, that one debilitating blow of life that’s going to rattle you right off the rails. There are times when it seems certain. They are scary, and often consist of two unknowns: when they show up, and how they’re resolved both tend to be completely out of left field.

As a newspaper person, I know how much of this business’ sustainability is in the hands of outside sources. In a sense, it is many people’s paper. It’s something that gleans as much substance as it receives, equally. It’s something of a body, and I am so grateful to feel the help and security of many, graceful arms helping to lift us up in hard times. A community newspaper is something special, and something that almost didn’t exist if it weren’t for perhaps one, special friend’s expertise. We are so grateful to know a person like Josh, and the dozens of other helpful “arms” in the local community who maintain this publication as a reliable volume in history for ALL time-documented happenings. Thanks to everyone who supports that.

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