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Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Otto: Dead men do live to tell more tales

Most mornings begin staring into the snout of Koko the dog, who has come up to the side of the bed and planted her head next to my face to advise me to get with the program and get up. Her tongue is long enough that unless I’m facing in the other direction, I’m going to get a lick. Last week the phone ringing beat her to the punch. There was a brief hesitation on the other end, and then the caller wanted to know if I was dead. At least it wasn’t a survey. Surveys usually give you a half-dozen options. The caller was someone down at Mother Trib, and he said he heard I might no longer be with us and he wanted to know for sure. That’s what I like about reporters; their concern for your well-being. I have to admit there are mornings when I have to ask myself the same question before bothering to roll over while trying not to step on our other dog Tennessee, who is on the floor next to the bed and not as anxious as Koko to head outside.
“What makes you think I’m … uh … not coming in this morning?’’ I asked the reporter. “Someone posted a story and a picture of you on Facebook this morning saying you were dead and how he was going to miss you.’’ I got up and moved over to the computer and called up the guy’s Facebook page. Sure enough, I was a goner and there were already a few comments saying how much people were going to miss me. “He was the voice of the people,’’ was the first posting. I felt pretty good about that. I mean it’s not often you get to hear how people think about you while you’re still around to listen. On the other hand, I had a feeling that once our HR department heard I was dead, I was going to have a hard time getting a paycheck, so I posted a note on the site saying I was still around. A few minutes later the entire notice disappeared. I figured to be safe I’d better let my mom know, in case anyone called offering their sympathies. Then I went back in the bedroom, where the Frau still hadn’t stirred. “Honey,’’ I said. “I just wanted to let you know in case someone calls and I wasn’t here I really am alive. It was just a mistake someone made on the Internet.’’ “That’s nice,’’ she mumbled. “Since you’re up and breathing, could you make the coffee?’’ An hour or so later I meandered into the office. I noticed there was no great ovation or congratulations on surviving the social media announcement. The guy who had called me did come over to my desk, I think just to confirm that it really was me and he wouldn’t have to write a story. “I do have a sore back,’’ I told him, but that didn’t seem to make any difference. He had already lost interest. I haven’t heard from the guy who killed me off on the Internet. He probably realizes his mistake and hopes I didn’t notice. I have noticed that things seem to happen frequently on the so-called “social media’’ that don’t seem to have much basis in fact. I’m just happy to report that as Mark Twain allegedly observed when he was killed off prematurely, that those reports were greatly exaggerated.
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