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Steve Bartlett: Remains of the day

Myra who?
Myra who?

There’s a new intern in our office and I’m really tempted. No, not in the Bill Clinton way.

Steve Bartlett: The Deep End

I’m more interested in a storied newsroom tradition and feel an intense, nostalgic desire to introduce the rookie to Myra.

If there’s a sniff of new blood around the office, I can’t help but think of her.

She almost got another journalist and I banished to the rural bingo beat. A tough assignment, indeed.

Reporter: Mrs. Crandle, you need one more letter for the full-card jackpot of $1,300.03. How do you feel about that?

Mrs. Crandle: Shut up, Mansbridge, I’m trying to listen. He may have just called it.

Reporter: Before …

Mrs. Crandle: Did you say B4? B4? BINGO!

Anyway, enough of Mrs. Crandle’s bear hug, let’s get back to Myra.

We’ll call the other journalist involved “Glen” because it’s his real name.

One day, while working as a reporter, I encouraged Glen to put one of those pink “While You Were Out” notes on the new journalist’s desk.

It’s long been a newsroom tradition to include Myra’s name and a certain number on the note.

When the newbie returned to the office, he called and asked for the person listed.

“Hello,” he said. “Is Myra Maynes there?”

The voice at the other end of the phone wasn’t too impressed, saying something like: “That’s not funny. This is a funeral home.”

In an extremely professional manner, the young man explained he was a reporter calling from the newspaper — and actually named the publication, to the horror of everyone in earshot.

Things were going south faster than a local politician during Easter Break.

The reporter said he was simply following up on a note to call Myra.

He kept pressing.

Then he caught on.

It was prank, and he had taken it hook, line and sinker. And he was embarrassed. Really embarrassed.

You couldn’t buy the shade of red he turned at the Shoppers makeup counter.

The kid was Hulk-like angry and ready to rock ’n’ roll.

He scanned the newsroom looking for a pound of flesh.

He homed in on Glen, who, if memory serves me correctly, may have had to change his pants.

I managed to walk the young reporter outside the office and talk him down a little.

Meanwhile, inside the newsroom, the boss was going up one side of Glen and down the other.

He was apocalyptic and started in on me when I returned with the still-riled reporter.

We had embarrassed a colleague and the paper.

The publisher even had a call from the funeral home.

I felt bad. So did Glen. I’m not sure the reporter has ever forgiven us.

Thus came the decree that Myra Maynes be buried for good.

No one has heard from her since.

But now there’s an intern parked outside my office.

And I’m staring at a pink message pad and a pen with the top chewed off it. (It’s a bad habit).

I pick up the notepad and tap it on my desk.

After a few, I give into temptation and grab the pen, writing “Myra Maynes” on it with a phone number.

I call the intern in my office and pass the note to him ... asking that he put it on Glen’s desk.

Glen doesn’t bite and smiles at me mischievously.

The only remains today are memories.


Steve Bartlett is an editor with SaltWire Network. He dives into the Deep End Mondays to escape reality and a world where practical jokes are becoming rare. Reach him at sbartlett@thetelegram.com.

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