A FAVOR FROM A READER. And boy, what a favor it was. On June 7, I received an e-mail from a reader asking if we'd be interested in using a photo he'd taken in his neighborhood. I pulled up the photo and my jaw dropped. I've seen lots of 'gator pictures over the years, but never one like this. I called the reader, Richard Holinski, to negotiate a price, fearing his photo would be way out of our reach. Amazingly, Holinski said it was ours for free. I pressed him to accept something and finally we agreed that the paper would make a donation to a local conservation organization. Definitely the best bargain The Island Packet ever got.
Then the real fun began. The next day, our Web site got thousands of hits — a total of 60,000 page views of the gator photo at last count. The photo wound up being published in domestic and foreign papers from Mumbai, India, to San Francisco — altogether, the photo appeared in scores of publications and Web sites. NBC's "Today Show" also did a segment on the photo and how it landed in The Packet.
We've never had such great exposure come so easily. If there's any larger message in all this, it's that we should always, always take time with readers who call or e-mail. You never know how they can help you.
And finally: Nobody's sure why the gator climbed the wall next to the front door. Some said it was looking for a mate. Other said it smelled chicken cooking on a grill in the back yard. Whatever, the gator apparently got rattled when a crowd gathered and did the only thing it knew to do to get away.