Posted on December 10, 2013 under Storytelling with one comment


Is the magazine rack the next thing on the endangered species list?  With all of the different ways to access news, information and entertainment, can the traditional glossy magazine possibly survive the digital revolution?  Does anyone take time in this fast paced world to actually read an entire hard copy of a newspaper?

I offer the answer.   A resounding no and a resounding yes.  Good to get that cleared up.

Let me explain.

One of the staff at our office went to a nearby convenience store not long ago to purchase coffee cream.   There are only two things that can interrupt the flow of business in an office these days: a computer network crash, or the absence of coffee cream.  Don’t even think of the possibility of running out of coffee.  Most offices would simply have to close their doors.

In addition to carrying the usual staples of a convenience store like cigarettes, lottery tickets and soft drinks, this store also carries gourmet sandwiches and salads stocked by a local restaurant.  And because of its modest size, there is only one cash register, so small lineups are the norm.

On this particular day, there were only two other people ahead of her.  The good news.  The bad news was that the first customer was taking an inordinately long time purchasing his goods.  And the person behind the till was new on the job.  The first customer was a smoker and he was a “do it yourselfer” so he was looking for tobacco, paper rollers and filters.  Once he and the clerk came to a complete understanding, he then had to buy lottery tickets.  There are several to choose from.

The next person in line had spent an unusually long time at the magazine rack prior to tendering his purchase.  He took a few furtive glances and placed the most recent edition of Hustler magazine on the counter.

Back in the day, publications like Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler occupied a lot of shelf space and many a young man got insight into topics that weren’t easily discussed at home.  Let’s just leave it at that.

The clerk seemed a bit embarrassed and, after ringing in the purchase, she announced to the customer that the store had run out of bags.  He would have to carry his purchase, exposed to the elements and the public, all the way down Main Street.  He didn’t wait to pick up his receipt, which was left on the counter.

The precious cargo of coffee cream was delivered to the office, helping to maintain the rhythm of work that day.

At the end of the month, the office bookkeeper was paying the bills and reconciling the petty cash after everyone else had gone home.  She was somewhat fatigued after a particularly busy month and repeatedly rubbed her eyes to stay alert.  She laid out all the receipts for sundry items.  One caught her attention.

She rubbed her eyes twice and tried to imagine how she would explain to the accountant at year end the purchase of Hustler magazine.  As she crumpled the receipt, she strolled into the lunchroom to check the reading basket … just in case.

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