Coming out of the Midwest region, I'm taking the Shallowford Road postal workers.
I know, I know, it's a long shot. But there are few more iconic, Norman Rockwell-ish jobs out there than the American postal worker.
Neither rain nor snow nor climate change can deter the postal worker. But now, as letters-in-envelopes are being replaced by "you've-got-mail" email, the Postal Service is leaking money: $5.1 billion in losses last year.
Somehow, it just doesn't sound the same: Through rain and sleet and snow, the Internet service provider delivers your mail?
More than 100 employees at the Shallowford Road Mail Processing and Distribution Center will lose their jobs in May when the plant shuts down.
It's a microcosm for our American narrative now. Cutting the government budget will save funds yet, in turn, will create joblessness which then, in turn, requires more federal safety-net money which, in turn, increases spending.
Like Sisyphus, we're back where we started.
So I'm rooting for the postal workers. In the bracketing of our region, in the March Madness of our lives, it's important to have folks we cheer for.
NCAA basketball tournament brackets were due yesterday. I have mine. About 30 million other Americans do, too. And yes, Kentucky will win (and so will Murray State, just not as much).
I am not trying to make light about unemployment, which is exactly what those postal workers will face if something's not done. I just like it when our cheering extends beyond college hoops.
In the East region of our city, the growing group of East Hamilton and Ooltewah parents is the favorite to win the fight against school rezoning. They fight for two reasons -- more transparency and more involvement in the rezoning process.
The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors just wrote a letter (hope it wasn't email) to the Hamilton County Board of Education, siding with the parents, which is kind of like when Dick Vitale picks your team to win it all, only better.
Also in the East, check out Tyner High School senior and valedictorian Jerin Alexander. He's amassed more than $500,000 in scholarship offers. Outstanding, this young man is. Heck, put him on rezoning issues. Let Jerin solve the problem.
One more Cinderella: the East Ridge City Council, which recently voted to give birthdays as paid holidays to all city employees. Unless you're born on Feb. 29, this must come as a good morale boost at a time when pay raises are rare.
Except East Ridge just gave their employees a 3 percent raise, too. One councilman thinks the effort will draw even more talented workers to the city. I do, too. Makes you want to shoot off some fireworks.
Coming out of the South is the Main Street Farmers Market. You've haven't eaten until you've eaten the vegetables and fruit brought in on the pickup truck beds of some of the finest farmers in the region.
With spring crops approaching, the Market runs each Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. Those two hours are some of the most honest and healthiest two hours in the city. Food is sold without a drop of pesticide by farmers who knowingly and lovingly work the land in their care. No one gets heart disease, obesity or orange Cheetos stains from eating this food.
This election year, I'd love to see politicians stump there. It ought to take a seven-nation army to hold the crowd back each week.
Finally in the West, I'm taking everybody's favorite: Mother Earth.
At least, almost everybody. Plans are in the works to return coal mining to Walden's Ridge near Dayton. In the Tennessee Legislature, a bill has been delayed that would prohibit mountaintop removal in the state.
Coal mining? Blowing up ... our mountains? I thought we were trying to reverse environmental destruction, not encourage such madness.
Finally, a nod to University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach John Shulman. Even though he pulls down six figures in the process, Shulman's become the Everyman: Walking down a dark and lonely road that, at some point, comes to each of us in our lives.
Here's to next season, for all of us.
David Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...