Hurricane Irma: Meet John Teets without whom there would be trolls

By John Teets
The man behind those personal messages and comments

 

Hi, everybody. I’m John Teets.

Linda Grist Cunningham has been Penn and I’ve been Teller since just after this thing started. I’ve stood quietly to the side doing folded-napkin tricks and sweeping up the stage while she’s done her amazing sleight-of-word act with news and solid features, capped by the thoughts and feelings she shared in the nightly sign-off posts that have let you know almost as well as I do what a joy it is to meet her mind and heart.

She’s a fellow Irma evacuee who knew she could look in on our islands via various new media even when Keys people couldn’t shout out. I saw what my island friend was doing here on Facebook and instantly volunteered to help. It was a natural: We’re both retired from newspapers, we both like *real* news and we both feel a gut-level need to share it with people who might want or need to hear it.

Your response, of course, has been overwhelming and heartwarming. We accept your many thanks for our page humbly (sometimes, anyway; we’re pretty proud when we do a job well). But hey, it’s what we’ve always done. When we hear an alarm going off, we perk up, grab a laptop and helmet, climb on the truck and buckle up for the ride.

And this lady driver is an ace. “Info is king,” she texted me late the other night, when we were both punch-drunk from incoming news. No kidding. You know the drill from her by now: What we know, what we don’t know….

What *I* know is that all of us from Key West – those of us who went through whatever, getting out or staying, or only “from” because that’s where a big part of our heart lives  – will have memories of this experience forever, and they’ll always circle back to who went through it with us in the worst of it.

Linda went through it with me. Separated by 500 miles up here in Tennessee (me) and Virginia (her), each a thousand miles from the ones we love at home, but close to each other as a key click. Just as important, we could go through it with several hundred thousand of you. It’s been an honor.

I’ve had some great bosses. (OK, some real pips the other way, too, but my lips are sealed.) I’m happy to say she was among the best. (Hello, Lois Wille! I love you! You’re why it has to be “among.”)

So the next time Linda asks me to dance, I’ll be delighted to whirl around the floor. Of course, she can lead. She knows how to do it with no doubt about where the two of you are going – and so gracefully.

John Teets is a (sorta) retired journalist who spent decades with the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. He lives in Key West — and Tennessee when there’s a hurricane. John researched and posted news and information throughout our two weeks. He whacked our handful of trolls and he was the voice you heard in our messages, our personal responses and our comments. Tens of thousands of you met John and never knew. 

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