Times are tough in the newspaper biz these days, and perhaps none tougher than at the good ol’ Mercury News, which has nevertheless seen fit to overlook my many character flaws and keep me on staff for seven-plus years because I can crank out headlines quickly and alertly redirect misplaced commas to their proper homes.

Come Tuesday the newspaper will have its chance to rectify this oversight. A couple months back the paper’s execs told us that about 15 percent of the newsroom staff will be given their walking papers in December. Tuesday’s the day of reckoning. Our instructions are to sit by the phone between 8 and 10 a.m. and if the phone call doesn’t come, we should report to work as scheduled. If it does come, we’re free at last to pursue intriguing careers in fast food and long-haul trucking.

I’d very much like to stay on at the ol’ Mercury News, and not only because keeping this job is so much easier than finding another one. I’ve worked with excellent people, helped cover important stories, learned a lot about the Bay Area by being in a news room when big news breaks. I’ve seen people respond with incredible calm and professionalism in the midst of computer system meltdowns. I’ve seen people keep their sense of humor when it seems like the world’s going down the drain. (In our biz, that’s pretty much every edition. World not going down the drain is not news, you understand.)

So that’s where I stand now. If I have time on Tuesday I’ll post an update (though you must understand what it means to have time to update one’s blog when one should be leaving for the office).