Ok, so they got me.
Being a reporter with a background steeped in covering government, I've always taken great pride in knowing what's going to happen before it happens as often as possible.
So when it came time for the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce to name its 2007 Small Business of the Year, I had done the requisite research and knew who the winner would be: Anthony Auto Sales.
So Thursday night, as folks gathered at the Thomson Depot, I was looking for the Anthony Auto folks when Chamber President Tommy Phelps took the microphone and began describing the winner.
Within a few sentences it hit me: There's a reason Anthony's Autos isn't here and the entire staff of The McDuffie Mirror is. Then my wife and parents walked out.
I was humbled, shocked and dumbfounded in an instant.
Even today, I dare anyone to wake me if I'm dreaming.
After receiving the recognition plaque, I stammered out a few lines and proceeded with the obligatory handshakes and hugs.
And immediately began thinking of things I wish I'd said while enjoying my moment in the spotlight.
So, if you'll indulge me, here is what I should have said:
- Thank you to Angela, Lynn and Janet for everything you do to make my life easier and make our newspaper the best that it can be.
- Thank you to Billy and Cindy for joining our team and the enthusiasm you bring every day. Just wait to see where we go from here.
- Thank you Elwood, Cindy Dent, Jerrie, Carole and all the rest who've helped make The Mirror what it is.
- Thank you to Kristopher Wells for being there from the beginning and offering your support to this day.
- Thank you to the Chamber of Commerce and its staff, one of the most under-appreciated groups in our community.
- Thank you to my parents, who trusted the ink in my blood.
- Thank you to my wife, who never said "I do" to a newspaper, but still loves the man who spends all his time publishing it.
- Please keep the families of Jerome Jackson, Pat Garbutt (a former McDuffie County dispatcher who passed away last week) and Austin Robertson in your prayers. And let their lives remind you to be even more thankful for the smiles and happiness that pass through our lives.
Still, I'm pretty proud of what I did say, because it's the absolute truth:
I'm very proud of the newspaper that the McDuffie County community has helped us create. The accolades, awards and recognition we receive should be shared by each of you.
So, again, McDuffie County, I say "thank you."
And may all of your dreams come true, too.