I carry a plain brown notebook that holds a yellow legal pad, papers and business cards wherever I go. It’s going on 7 years old and is a bit faded, with the remains of a name sticker stuck on the front. I could probably replace it for a few bucks, but it means the world to me, especially after I’ve been on a long work trip. It has my “brains” for writing stories inside. I don’t record interviews. I decided early on — after interviewing Dan Arnholt of Columbus, Ind., while standing next to a grain bin with an aeration fan running — that recording doesn’t always work.
If you read this column even occasionally, you know I could be mistaken for the absent-minded professor. I can never find my glasses — even if they’re on my face! I once lost a set of keys because I left them on top of my car. I used a spare when I couldn’t find them; all that was left was a faint outline of keys on a dusty car roof.
The notebook caper
All that background sets the stage for an incredible tale. It was Sept. 7, Labor Day, in Clear Lake, Iowa. My wife, Carla, and I were heading home in our F-150 pickup after spending a week in Iowa doing interviews and taking pictures for the Farm Progress Virtual Experience, visiting friends, buying toy tractors, and watching six-horse hitches at Britt, Iowa.
Loading the truck was an adventure. We had bought so much stuff, it barely fit in the back seat with our luggage. I carried an armload out and set my notebook, bulging with news releases and other information from interviews, on the top edge of the bed while I finished cramming everything in.
Carla took off and drove about a quarter-mile, then pulled onto the interstate headed south. We had gone about a mile when she asked, “Did you get your notebook off the truck bed?”
“It’s a little late to ask now,” I retorted. “I’m sure I did.”
I was sure, until I looked in the back and it wasn’t where I should have crammed it in.
Oh no, this can’t be happening. There would be no use going back if I really had forgotten it. It would have tipped out, and there would be papers everywhere — a week’s worth of work gone and more!
Carla pulled onto the shoulder. I got out, heart thumping. Oh no, I did forget it, because there was the folder in the truck bed! There won’t be anything in it.
I climbed in and couldn’t believe what I saw. Papers were sticking out a bit and there were a couple of papers wedged against the only other thing in the bed, a broken chair we used at the horse show and decided to haul home rather than fill up their dumpster. Actually, the whole notebook was wedged against it, right behind the cab.
If I lost a single paper, I haven’t missed it yet. Everything I needed to write dozens of stories was still there. Carla saved the day!
That’s true, but I believe she had help, and not just from the junk chair. If it wasn’t divine intervention, a minor miracle — although not so minor to me — I don’t know what it was. As for Carla and me, we believe!