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Roger Watson Column: Though gift didn’t arrive safely, the thought was in right place

I’ve had lots of bad ideas in my time. Last week’s candy cane caper will certainly find its way into my list of all-time bad ideas.

It seemed like a nice bit of holiday cheer to put a small plastic-wrapped candy cane in each of our advertisers’ billing statements as a nice way to say “Merry Christmas” and show appreciation for their business.

Roger Watson

Unfortunately, the results did not turn out that way.
The first hint that something had gone horribly awry was when Peter Asciutto of Vac & Dash dropped by the office with a horribly crushed candy cane in his bill asking if this was some sort of covert message. Pay your bill or next time this will be your legs. Peter was joking, of course, but it provided the first hint that the postal system had not been kind to our intent to spread Christmas cheer.

We had been so careful. Instead of running our bills through a postage meter, Sherry Nance and Debbie Holt spent most of an afternoon sticking stamps on envelopes to make sure the candy canes made it to the post office in one piece. They sure didn’t stay that way.

Jay Almond, town manager of Badin, sent a photo of the remnants of the candy cane he received. The candy cane had been crushed into a fine yellow powder. “When did you start sending anthrax to your customers?” he texted his wife Tracey who works as our advertising manager.

Another advertiser called after finding a powdery substance in her bill asking what it was.

My fear is we have a bill with a crushed candy cane going to a federal government facility and this Christmas idea turned bad ends up on CNN as some sort of attempted terror attack. It’s just a candy cane, I promise. And yes, it was a bad idea.

I’m not sure what devices our friends in the postal system use to process the mail these days but it certainly isn’t good for candy canes. It seems none of them survived.

From now on, we will keep the advertising bills candy-cane free and look for better ideas to spread a little Christmas cheer.

Roger Watson is publisher of The Stanly News & Press.