Insert new columnist here
Well, this is the last time I’m going to be doing this; “this” being spending my Wednesday nights overly caffeinated and searching for something to write my column about that isn’t necessarily about politics or food or late night TV.
Clearly, I have frequently failed to avoid those topics. But my inability to mine new material from poor dietary decisions or my vampire-esque sleeping schedule are not the reason I’ll no longer spend my Wednesday nights at the office, watching the mail room and delivery folks peer into the newsroom with a look of confusion as someone, anyone, is still in this building after their shift ends.
No, the reason is I quit.
Actually, that comes off a little harsh. “Quit” makes it sound like I stormed out of the office in some kind of a huff, throwing bits of paper and yelling obscenities at the various peoples and machines that have angered me over the years.
But that isn’t what happened; after seven years of being the Copy Editor, Supreme Allied Layout Commander, Paginator Plenipotentiary, and Most Unconventionally Good-Looking person to sit at the copy desk, I came to the conclusion that it is simply time to do something different.
This is not how I had imagined this would happen.
I always knew that, at some point in the future, I would no longer be working at the T-R. I just assumed that I would be fired after taking a large, blunt object to the side of either our newsroom’s printer, or the Computer To Plate Machine, AKA the CTP Machine, AKA The Mechanical Gremlin.
Oh how I loathe that machine! The CTP is the machine that takes my digitally created pages and prints them on metal plates, which are then taken downstairs to the pressroom. Whatever vengeful spirit or alien life form of cruel intellect currently inhabits the machine is unknown; all we know is that if you have something you need to do after work, especially if it involves another person, the CTP Machine will defy the laws of physics to stop working for that one, vexing night, only to return again to its alleged functionality the next day.
So I always assumed I would have my pink slip from the T-R handed to me through a set of iron bars after I was arrested for attempting to push the CTP Machine off the top of the Courthouse. Alas, this is not to be.
When you quit a job working for a large corporation there is an endless supply of paperwork, HR exit interviews, and emailing your nine bosses that they should stop calling you about the TPS reports because you no longer work for them.
The T-R, although owned by Ogden Newspapers, Inc., is really a small business. We’ve got a few dozen employees, not nearly enough parking, and if you tell one or two people you’re quitting just about everybody else knows within a day.
[Quick aside about the parking: A couple years ago (maybe a little less, maybe a little more) the city came by and turned our six normal parking spots on the street into four HUGE parking spots. Thanks? Since the city seems to think that the majority of T-R employees drive small commercial fishing vessels to work they assumed we needed larger spaces to park. Let me be clear: T-R employees do not drive small commercial fishing vessels to work, at least not frequently, so how about you send somebody over here to repaint our old parking spaces?]
Aside from cleaning out my desk (how much Jimmy Johns was I eating in 2013? I have entirely too many napkins) and deleting all of my personal passwords from my work computer (I don’t need anybody using my Amazon account and screwing up my recommended items) that’s pretty much it.
Wait, our fax machine just kicked on. Stand by.
Ok, somebody just faxed us a spam advertisement for a home loan. 1: This is not a home, except on election day, then we pretty much live here. 2: Who is falling for this? Who sends fax spam? And who gets said spam and thinks “yeah, another mortgage sounds like a great idea! I’m going to sign my house over to these retro randos and their tempting offer of LOW INTEREST RATES and Windows 95 clip art?
I’m not going to miss that.
If you’re looking for this to get sappy, you’ve been reading the wrong columnist.
In fact, I have been asked that a few times over my seven years here. “Why don’t you write something more personal? Why don’t you talk about the real issues in your life?”
My hatred for gritty reboots, post-mortem sequels, snohawks, not using an Oxford comma, and that stupid Toaster Strudel kid is very, very real.
And more importantly, sharing deep and personal parts of your life in a newspaper column isn’t exactly what I signed up for; nor what readers are looking for when they open up the paper searching for the latest column from the Ghost of Andy Rooney, then forget we haven’t run that column in years, and just read my column because they’re saving the jumble for a long car ride.
I just spent the last 10 minutes reading old columns of mine from five years ago; that’s as far back as our in-house digital archives have saved.
There have been a LOT of columns.
I’ve always appreciated the T-R’s hands-off stance about my column’s subject matter … word count, on the other hand, was a bit more divisive. For some reason the editorial direction of this paper tilts away from 3,000-word screeds about Pepsi marketing disasters or Bitcoin or my thoughts about the efficacy of McDonald’s HEAT MODE. Its their paper and their ink so its their decision, but I still think we missed some opportunities.
After seven years of life at this paper I decided the best way to end this last column was to find my first column and see to what degree my life has changed, for the better or for the worse, since that first column so long ago.
My first column, “My Life as a Teenage Cameraman” told the story of me and my friends almost, but not, getting shot by Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Sodders while filming an ill-conceived indie movie in my late teen years.
Seven years later, and 16 years after the event which inspired the column, after all that has changed in my life, in our town, in our state and country and world, I still have not been shot by Steve Sodders.
And for that, and for the seven years of reading a column I write primarily to make myself laugh, I say thank you.
Copy Editor Wes Burns is a Sunday columnist. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don’t necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Wes Burns at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.