** UPDATE: The folks at the Register have fixed the problem. Not just for me (the squeaky wheel) but for the whole neighborhood. Insert Happy Dance ***
It had all of the signs of a romance in doom.
First, there was The Rush: Despite cutbacks and layoffs and closures at other newspapers across the country, the Orange County Register issued promises of grandeur. The new owner, Aaron Kushner, was expanding the paper: hiring new reporters, creating daily local sections, and giving away ad space to local nonprofits. They brought back beats like Religion (where I tend to be a mainstay) and Classical Music (which was great for my then-role with the Orange County Women’s Chorus). I was elated—I had butterflies in my stomach every morning, excited about what I would read when I opened my morning paper. I was in love. It was the late ’90s all over again—that era when I needed a forklift to carry in my Sunday paper.
But it wouldn’t last.
Then came The Denial: Like anyone in love, I was blind to the critics. When Gustavo Arellano blasted the business model and called it unsustainable, I refused to listen. He didn’t understand the OC Register like I did, I told myself.
Heck, my family had an almost 90-year relationships with the Register, going back to the 1920s, when the paper boasted the Santa Ana Register masthead. My grandfather (the former county coroner), my grandmother (the former clerk to the OC County Board of Supervisors), my father (a former Santa Ana Planning Commissioner), and I (a regular trouble-maker for naughty people) have been quoted in the paper for almost a century. A Casteix has been a subscriber (except for two years in the mid-90s) for just as long. No one understood the Register like I did. The OC Register would never hurt me, I said.
My reporter friends were leaving the paper in droves. But I thought: It’s just a phase.
Then when the Register couldn’t deliver papers to subscribers because of millions of dollars in unpaid bills to the Los Angeles Times, I told myself: It will never happen to me.
Next came The Brutal Truth: Two weeks ago, my paper stopped coming. When my neighbor Nadine* asked me if I was getting my Register, I said, “No, but it’s okay. It will come.” It never came. Nadine* began a calling and emailing campaign to get her paper. She and my husband shared ideas about how they could get the attention of the higher-ups and get delivery back. They both looked at me, incredulous: Why was I doing nothing? I love to complain about poor service. I have built a career out of exposing fraud and wrong-doing. But yet, I sat patiently, waiting for a paper (a paper I have already paid for, mind you) that would never come.
Finally, The Betrayal: My husband broke the news gently this morning. “I went to the Smiths* house last night. Steve* said that he and his wife Claire* have been calling and emailing the Register every day for the past three weeks. Now, they get a special delivery of their paper every morning. The carrier even puts the paper on their back porch.”
THE CARRIER GENTLY PLACES THE PAPER ON THEIR BACK PORCH?!
The Smiths live less than 200 ft from my house. The carrier has to pass my driveway to get to them. The carrier also passes right by Nadine’s home. But we get no paper. We get nothing. I wonder if the carrier laughs has he passes my house. I wonder if he even knows that I sit here, lonely and dejected.
Gustavo had been right all along. But like any woman in love, I refused to listen to the voices of reason.
I’d break up with the Register right now, but the customer service hold time is 72 minutes.
So I’m just going to walk over to the Smith’s house and beg to have their NYT Sunday Crossword. I’ll offer a decent wine trade.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent