Two Surprise Checks Received
Two unexpected checks arrived in my mailbox today, both dated late April for actions I took in late March. One is from the The New York Times for $300 for an op-ed piece I published in the paper March 18; the other is from the District of Columbia for $4 for jury service I contributed at its Superior Court March 23.
The checks were unexpected. I would have rendered either service without pay. Both were in some sense a civic contribution, the jury service by law, the op-ed piece by vocation. But the figures nevertheless struck me as backwards. Suppose no civic obligation, imposed or elected. In an arms’-length negotiation, I would have requested far less from the paper and far more from the court.
Neither outfit is doing well financially. The District of Columbia faces a $400 million budget deficit amid declining tax revenues and increased costs; The Times Co. lost $74.5 million last quarter amid declining ad revenues and contraction in its business. I appreciate both checks. And love both DC and the NYT. I am tempted to cash neither one.