One thing I did when I went in and told my boss, Kitsap Sun Editor David Nelson, that I was taking a job elsewhere was I promised him I wouldn’t write a “Goodbye” column. Those kind of farewells can be so full of self-importance and blindness. It’s blindness to the fact that the majority of readers, and “majority” is really underselling it, are fortunately incapable of giving a bark about some fool who got the notion that writing stuff that happens for a living is not going to write stuff that happens anymore. Not for a living, anyway.
I mean, I don’t read farewells from people leaving their jobs at the toaster manufacturing company, the shipyard, or the bar. Even some politicians make less noise when they leave the business.
Hasta la vista, baby. (California Motor Speedway 2006. Photo by Larry Steagall.)
I stayed committed to my promise to David for about a week, figuring I’d leave a note on Facebook that a few people would notice. It would be enough for those who wondered what happened and to make clear that I didn’t get fired. Because I operate under the perhaps misguided notion that I have a reputation worth protecting, I cared a whit about that.
But your accountant will let you know if the party’s over and that you might ought to consider getting your money laundered by someone else. So as my final day approached I shifted in my thoughts about this. I got the notion to create a farewell that wasn’t so much like the ones I’d seen that had become so tired. There have been so many journalists leaving the business in the last 10 years that it’s nearly impossible to not swim in the exit pieces. I crafted a short message on top of a picture of a cowboy riding off into the sunset, then accidentally let it post sooner than I wanted to. For 15 minutes or so you had the chance to see it.
Even that seemed too self-serving and emotional, so I took it down.
The reason I came back to write something is because I don’t want to quit this job without saying one thing, even if it is in a tortured farewell.
If you’re curious why I would leave, my first answer is simply that it is time. I believe everyone involved wins in this. I loved being a journalist for the last 16 years, but I never operated under the assumption or even the hope that it would last forever. I said before on Facebook that this is amazing work. I mean it. I’m sure I’ll miss parts of it, particularly the people I got to meet as a reporter, especially including my coworkers. We cover things that are boring to most people, other things that are exciting to many and news that is tragic to everyone. In all of those experiences I was always amazed by the graciousness of those who somehow had faith that talking to me might do some good.
And that gets to the one thing I wanted to say: Thank you.
To leave without saying that seemed ungrateful.
The other reason I leave is because the right opportunity became available. On Monday I go to work in the Kitsap County Auditor’s office as education and outreach coordinator. If you run for something here you will probably talk to me. I’ll be taking on other communications tasks in the office as well, applying what I’ve learned here and learning new skills.
For my closing number I leave you with a song that I think reflects the emotions of someone who looks back on a career path he hopes did some good and probably wasn’t as great as he wishes he were.
Please come see me and hang out with friends at Story Night.
Again, thank you. As always, go Dodgers! And my apologies to David. I hope this doesn’t get me fired.