As many locals know, the Index-Journal office building is at 610 Phoenix St. in Greenwood.
Because of the location of the building, I have encountered a number of characters and eccentricities through the years.
The U.S. Post Office is across the street, and it sees a good bit of traffic — from all walks of life — throughout the business day.
The city garages and gas pumps for municipal vehicles also are nearby, so police cars motor past the office all day long. Officers will occasionally stop by to frisk executive editor Richard Whiting, but that’s at his own request.
There is a large residential neighborhood just south of the office, as Phoenix is intersected by Taggart, Milwee and East Creswell avenues, among others. As such, the area sees a great deal of foot traffic, with people young and old — including that lady who wears a beekeeper’s hat and lugs a giant duffel bag — constantly walking by the office as they make their way to and from home.
Across the street from the Index building is the Lakelands Toros soccer field. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stepped outside on a warm night and heard the laughs and cheers as those young people chase the ball up and down the pitch. I also can’t tell you how many nights I’ve had to physically restrain staff writer Frank Bumb from going over there and raiding their juice boxes and orange slices.
People drive really fast down Phoenix Street. That’s why we affectionately call it the Phoenix Expressway.
The only place in Greenwood County where people drive faster than Phoenix Street is the Ware Shoals Dragway. I think drivers practice for the weekend races at Ware Shoals by ripping up and down Phoenix Street.
There’s really no need for me to drink coffee or energy drinks in the morning. The best way to get a little pep in my step is to walk across Phoenix Street. It always gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling when I hear drivers of approaching cars hit the accelerator when they see me crossing the street.
It could be worse, though. When Scott J. Bryan was the associate editor here, certain drivers (mostly school superintendents) used to hit their NOS nitrous oxide boosters when they spotted him trying to cross Phoenix. It looked like “Fast and the Furious” had a baby with that episode of “Seinfeld” where they tried to move the Frogger machine across the road.
WE GET A LOT OF visitors in the newsroom here at 610 Phoenix St.
Most of them come by to conduct legitimate business, such as arranging wedding announcements, dropping off church notices for our religion page or delivering packages to Whiting that were shipped from Colorado and smell like a Phish concert.
We also occasionally get visitors who are angry about something that was printed in the paper. I once had my life threatened by a “reader” who had a rap sheet longer than the lines at Wal-Mart on a Saturday. As such, I now keep a golden shovel at my desk, which can be used to a) defend myself or b) dig my grave.
I also hear a version of the following conversation between newsroom coordinator Wanda Rinker and various newsroom visitors each week:
(Visitor walks in.)
Wanda: Hi, can I help you?
Visitor: Yes ma’am, I need to get a copy of a picture of my great grandmother that ran in the paper.
Wanda: Was this in today’s paper? What page?
Visitor: Oh, no ma’am, not in today’s paper. It would have been in July of 1982. I’ve been meaning to get up here.
Wanda: Um ...
ON MOST FRIDAYS a nice lady who sells boiled peanuts stops by the office. Being a good Southern boy, I usually buy a bag.
We’ve got several transplanted Northerners working here, and I try to teach them how to do right. This includes getting them to eat boiled peanuts.
Bumb, an unfortunate Ohio native, refuses to embrace boiled peanuts. His palate actively rejects them. He instead craves scrapple, sauerkraut balls and peanut butter Buckeyes.
However, one of our newest reporters — Brooklyn, N.Y. transplant Kate Hruby — fully embraced boiled peanuts. In fact she embraced them a little too much.
On Friday, when the peanut lady came to the office, Kate and I each bought a bag. I watched as Kate plucked one from the bag and took a big bite out of it. As in, the shell and everything.
Now, I’ve been known to suck the salt out of a boiled peanut shell. I bet more than a few of you have. But I had never seen anyone eat the shells.
I had to break it to Kate she was, in fact, not supposed to eat boiled peanuts shells. In turn, she told me I’m not supposed to curl up in the fetal position on the subway when I visit New York.
I’ve rattled on long enough here. If you ever need a picture of your great grandmother that ran in the paper in 1982, stop by and see us. I doubt we’ll have it, but you’ll get a great workout crossing the Phoenix Expressway.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.