Correction, Aug. 28: An earlier version of this article suggested Barry Rubin owned Innovative. He does not. The error is ours, and we regret it.
In Gulfport, we’re supposed to be edging closer to GeckoFest. This weekend was supposed to be Gecko Ball. We’re supposed to be reveling in how the kids are back in school.
There are a lot of things that were supposed to happen this year but, well, we all know the quote: Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht. If you’re not up on your Yiddish, perhaps you’ve heard it said as such: Man Plans, And God Laughs. You may recognize this also from the Public Enemy album and title song, which are also not out of place in this carnival ride we call “2020.”
Things that were not supposed to happen — aside from almost everything that has happened since March 14 — include the Gabber going silent for three months, my buying it, and finding myself at the unique helm of a ship I never intended to sail. I had no plans of becoming a newspaper publisher or thinking about worker’s compensation insurance, or taking 99% of newspaper-related business meetings at Stella’s, under shade of umbrellas offering relief from the blistering sun.
Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht.
Despite my non-plan plan, I find myself learning that of the unexpected, good things arise. For every moment I didn’t expect to sit and worry about payroll, there are people sending checks of all sizes to us, along with notes of encouragement and thanks. (And thank you — those things really do help!) I do not know of any other business where this happens, and these checks and notes remind me almost daily of the public trust between this newspaper and our community.
For every moment I didn’t think I would ever return to the Gabber after I abruptly left a few years back, I’ve enjoyed countless moments of feeling as though I’ve come home (not the least of which was our wild turkey story a few weeks ago; I anticipate many great bird-related stories in our future).
Finally, for every time I’ve thought there were people with whom I shared nothing but a ZIP code, I’ve had lovely surprises. Two people come to mind: Barbara Banno and Barry Rubin. Barbara, the Gulfport Merchants Chamber president, has supported this move since before I made an offer on the paper –the day she learned the paper would go dark, she told me “You should buy it” and, well, here we are – and continues to offer support, encouragement, and an understanding of the almost-ever-present feeling of Whack-A-Mole of running a small business during a global pandemic.
After my last publisher’s note, in which I outlined my disbelief at not being able to get legally mandated worker’s compensation insurance, Barry Rubin reached out to me and offered, through a company with whom he works, Innovative, not only worker’s compensation insurance, but a way to provide our staff with a health insurance stipend and affordable payroll options.
While you may find things like payroll solutions and insurance a real snoozefest, or think it’s easy for a small business owner to find support, please know this: Those things may sound insignificant or boring on the surface, but without it, this paper would be at risk.
Neither of them have any reason to go out of their way for me – yet they did. I’m grateful to them both, and count them among the ever-growing list of names that make this paper possible.
This was not the 2020 I expected, but it’s the one I have, and, in many ways, I’m grateful.
I didn’t plan for that, either.
Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht.