Jeannie stared at the pile of papers littering her desk. The blank computer screen was agonizingly bright as she rubbed her tired eyes. The deadline loomed, and the old clock the wall went tick, tick, tick... The newspaper was an unforgiving beast and, like the mail, it too has a schedule to maintain.
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Another one reads "...my husband is planning an surprise 40th birthday party for me. I am not fond of surprise parties. My cousin let it slip the other day, and it is apparently an elaborate affair. I love my husband, and don't want to disappoint him. Should I say anything or try and act surprised and happy? Signed Party Pooper."
Jeannie ponders these and other letters, searching for the right mix for reader interest. She's been a columnist for 10 years, and had noticed that while the times have changed, technology has advanced, and life grows more complicated, people's problems remain the basically the same. Relationships blooming, relationships falling apart, children, bullies, money problems, he-said, she-said, and who's fault it is.
Finally she chooses two letters, one about a young man who finds out his fiance is actually his half sister, and the other about meddling grandparents. She dishes out sound advice from her many years of experience, insight and imagination. Yes, columnists must be creative and imaginative to keep from giving out cookie-cutter advice. Each response must be fresh and individual. Some days this is a struggle. "Have I been doing this too long?" she wonders to herself.
The sun is now setting, glowing golden against the wall behind her. She finally taps out the last words, hits save and sends it to the Lifestyle department. Done! It is Friday and the weekend has begun. She glances at the clock. If she hurries she'll have enough time to meet Seth at the bar for a drink before catching the last train out of the city.