by Todd Habiger
In the cold of winter I am, more often than not, out in public wearing my Leaven coat. People will often comment about the jacket and ask if I work for The Leaven. When I inform them that yes, indeed, I do work for The Leaven, the next question is always the same.
“Are you Joe Bollig?”
I cringe at the thought and politely tell them that, “No, I’m Todd Habiger.” They inevitably follow up with: “Have you worked there long?” Hoping that maybe they missed the announcement of a new reporter on the beat.
When I tell them that I’ve worked at The Leaven for more than 20 years, the conversation pretty much dies. Joe Bollig they know. They see his byline every week. Todd Habiger? Who’s that nobody?
Now it really doesn’t bother me. Joe has been the voice of The Leaven for more than 20 years. He’s making calls, conducting interviews, writing stories. He’s out there with the people of the archdiocese each and every week.
If people have seen a photo of Joe, they can be forgiven for mistaking me for him. We have the same body type, same hair color and are about the same height. (Although in all honesty, I’m much better looking.)
Even people who know us in the chancery mistake us for one another. It got so bad a few years ago that we had to alternate who gets to have facial hair so we didn’t confuse our co-workers.
While Joe is the public face of The Leaven, I’m the behind-the-scenes guy. I construct the paper.
For the layperson, I’ve compiled a way to tell us apart using your five senses.
Sight: I have more hair on my face. Joe has more hair on his head.
Sound: Joe cantors for his parish, so obviously he has a sweet singing voice. As for me, I can’t carry a tune to save my life. Just ask my wife and kids.
Smell: Joe smells like 10,000 cats. I smell like a dog. Seriously, Joe has about 10,000 cats that he’s rescued from certain doom. He’s a huge animal lover and has never failed to take on an abandoned animal. Here’s a great story about Joe and animals. Years ago, on his way to work, Joe came upon a dead opossum in the middle of the road, and noticed little baby opossums around it. Joe picked up the babies, and brought them to work in a box. While he called the Humane Society to figure out what to do with them, he left the babies in the lunchroom. One of our employees, wondering what tasty treats someone brought to work, opened the box. The scream could be heard for miles.
Touch: I’m solid muscle (at least that’s what I tell myself). Joe’s more of a marshmallow. One year for Christmas, Joe’s youngest son Thomas got him a shirt with the Pillsbury Doughboy on it. He said the doughboy reminded him of Joe. It was a huge blow to his ego.
Taste: I’m a meat and potatoes guy. Joe’s been known to eat some weird stuff. He once brought in these sheets of dried seaweed. That stuff smelled like armpit. It was nasty. But Joe loved it.
So next time you’re out and see some guy in a Leaven jacket, use your five senses to determine his identity.