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This Life of Reilly Is a Nightmare —Cagle

May 2010

BACK IN March, I blogged on the subject of a printing industry brother who has been repeatedly visited by personal devastation. His tale is heart-wrenching, so in case you haven't seen it...

Does anyone out there know Jim Reilly? He's no one in particular, just another face in the printing industry crowd. His life story stands out, however, as the ultimate nightmare.

By all rights, this Upper Chichester, PA, man should be plotting out his retirement and considering taking up residence in a warmer climate. Instead, he's wondering how to put the pieces back together of a life that is too far along to start over, yet too young to throw away.

The wheels started to come off for Reilly, 59, about four years ago. In 2006, his youngest son, Andrew, died in an automobile accident while returning to Millersville (PA) University. Two years later, Reilly's wife, April, passed away. Unbelievably, it keeps getting worse for this man.

Back in mid-January of this year, Reilly was laid off from the printing company where he made his living. The coup de grâce came on March 8...Reilly was cooking dinner, roughly 7 p.m., when a fire broke out in his home. The blaze gutted his two-story abode, destroying virtually all of his family's possessions, according to the Delaware County Times. No one was hurt, which is about the only break Reilly has caught in quite a while.

Losing the family home has magnified Reilly's burdens. He needs to keep his developmentally delayed son, Shaun, on a routine. That includes having Shaun, who cannot talk, driven to a day program where he can work. Reilly must dress his son and help him down stairs.

Reilly's daughter is having a difficult time dealing with the adversity, but relies on her boyfriend as a "calming influence," the paper reported. As for Reilly, he has very little. He needed to replace the contents of his wallet. And he was still in the process of sifting through the debris of his home to find important papers. Maybe, if he is lucky, Reilly might find a picture or memento to remind him of April and Andrew.

It's pretty clear by this point that Jim Reilly is anything but lucky.

If you've ever wondered how people can become so despondent as to take their own life, well, now you can stop wondering. But Reilly is not going to be one of those people who throw in the towel. He's picking up the pieces, moving forward. It begins with small things, then you work your way forward.

"I'm starting to get things back in order," he told the newspaper.

His faith has helped as well, spiritually and financially. The United Methodist Church Reilly attends in Elam, PA, is accepting donations on his behalf. Checks or gift cards would help most. If you want to contribute, send gifts to James Reilly Family Fund, c/o Elam United Methodist Church, 1073 Smithbridge Rd., Glen Mills, PA, 19342.

I do not know if Reilly has found another job, or if he intends to stay in the printing industry. If a Delaware Valley printer is interested in helping this man afford new housing accommodations by offering him a job, drop me a line and I will put you in touch with Reilly.

CUSTOMER SERVICE HORROR: Stop me if you've heard this one...

My father-in-law, Ronnie, walks into his local post office, inquiring as to why he didn't receive his 2010 U.S. Census packet. The CSR behind the counter mutters into her cell phone, "hold on, I have another customer," and explains to Ronnie that she had to "send back a whole tray" of Census forms because they contained street addresses as opposed to post office box numbers.

The CSR added that she didn't have enough time to insert each letter into the proper box without a P.O. box number on the letter. Apparently, she did have enough time to take a lengthy personal call given the "I have another customer" line.

Damn people, always coming into the post office! Expecting to be waited on; the nerve of them.

Ronnie, a Vietnam veteran who walks a straighter line than any citizen I know, promptly called his local congressman. A rep at the congressman's office explained that all of the U.S. Census forms were mailed to street addresses only, not P.O. numbers. The nitwit CSR back at the post office had to know this fact. Still, it didn't stop her from shirking responsibility, or giving Ronnie some attitude.

This brings to mind several issues. One, the U.S. Postal Service is fighting to stay relevant and fiscally viable in the midst of the electronic revolution and dwindling volume, only to have blatant laziness—small in scale or not—fly in the face of what they're trying to accomplish. Secondly, how much taxpayer money was expended on the mailed portion of the U.S. Census campaign? Uncle Sam reportedly forked over $85 million to send the warning letters and the actual forms. And now, the 300 or so homes in Ronnie's Podunk village will have to be visited in-person by the Census' foot soldiers.

Well, at least they'll be cashing a well-earned paycheck.

Toss in a third point—with all of the people in this country who are out of work and struggling, it's a shame that people like this shiftless CSR have jobs waiting for them, jobs that apparently aren't quite so taxing. PI

—Erik Cagle



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