When I first started as an official columnist, McNeil congratulated me and then shared the following parable:
An editor and a reporter were out on assignment, walking in the parching desert for a long spell, until they became a bit bewildered. After a few hours they found themselves without water and on the edge of delirium.
Finally, they hiked up a small bluff, where there were some aspen and discovered a small pond coming from a spring. As the reporter was about to sate his thirst, the editor demanded, “Wait a minute!” And started peeing in the pristine water. The thirsty reporter queried, “What the heck are you doing? To which the editor replied, “I’m making it better!”
I told McNeil that I didn’t understand. And he replied, “You will, after it happens to you.”