Publishers Perspective

Long day’s journey into night


March Madness is not always confined to basketball. I learned that the hard way last week and over the weekend.

Here is my tale of woe; or how I spent my own weekend of March Madness.

I was supposed to go to Louisiana to pick up our annual Discover Magazine. The printer was located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, so I made the executive decision to pick the magazine up directly rather than have it shipped. It would save our company over $200 in shipping, and it would also afford me the opportunity to spend the St. Patrick’s Day weekend with my son Joe who is an engineer in Baton Rouge. Our plan was to take in the St. Patty’s Day parade on Saturday and also watch the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament together starting late Thursday night. My son’s alma mater, the University of Michigan, was playing the late game on Thursday night so it was my hope to get there before game time.

I left Gonzales at 2 p.m., and everything was fine until I crossed the border into Louisiana. What a mess. There is a construction project going on impacting I-10 in Lake Charles, and it backed up traffic for 20 miles. It took over three hours to get through the bottleneck. I was madder than a hornet sitting through this mess because I not only wanted to see the game, but it was clear the Louisiana Department of Transportation had not thought their project and traffic flow information through. It was a nightmare. After finally breaking through the snarl, I got to Baton Rouge at 10:30 p.m. in time to see the end of the Michigan game. So much for spending time with my son on Thursday night.

After picking up the Discover Magazine on Friday, we spent Friday night together and then enjoyed the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Baton Rouge. It was a fun parade that lasted over two hours. My recollection is that the parade consisted of six marching bands and a bunch of inebriated revelers riding floats throwing beads and all sorts of stuff to the throngs lining the streets. From plastic swords, footballs, baseballs, frisbees, stuffed animals and other types of worthless beads, I collected quite a haul. What I will ever do with any of it is a question that only God can answer. It will probably occupy a part of the back of my closet through infinity.

On Sunday, the drive back to Gonzales was more of the same. Three separate rollover accidents along I-10 had traffic backed up for miles. From Houston back to Columbus, eastbound I-10 was a disaster. A six-hour drive from Baton Rouge took 8 ½ hours to get back. And just when I thought the nightmare was over, it decided to storm and hail on the interstate. Welcome home, rock star.

By then I was spent, but was happy that I had kept my cool. Traveling south on 97 between Waelder and Gonzales, there were a couple of rainbows. I took that as a positive sign that I was home. When I got back to the newspaper, I opened the office to bring in boxes of our magazine but was greeted with a leaky roof in the middle of our business office. I just shook my head.

Yes, I cleaned up the mess and went home for a good night’s sleep. But I did make one resolution: Never to drive to Lake Charles, Louisiana until the traffic situation is fixed. You shouldn’t either.