Jobs are like lives.
You are born into your little workplace. You grow up there. your coworkers become your family.
You laugh together, cry together, celebrate birthdays, mourn deaths, perform acts of greatness and drink bad coffee.
The days go by, the years pass, then decades.
Like life, you don’t really notice. You just assume it will last forever.
Like life, people come and go. Change happens, sometimes for the better; sometimes for the worse.
Then one day it ends. My workplace had, I suppose, the luxury of a slow, lingering death. We feared this day was coming, but pretended someone would come up with a miracle cure that would keep us alive. Sadly, the doctors pulled the plug this week.
You know you’re going to die someday, you just try not to think about it. That’s the way it was at work. One day, business at usual. The next day we were dead.
I know it’s happened to far too many people over the last couple of years, but that was different. That was them. This is us.
After two more months, I’ll never be a journalist again. It’s all I’ve known for the last 30 years. But times change. We move on. We die.
Once my mom called me early in the morning to say a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. My mom tends to exaggerate, but I turned on CNN just in case. Ten minutes later, still mostly asleep, I raced to work. I began calling my coworkers. Come to work, there’s been a terrorist attack, I told them one by one as they tried to wake up (we all worked nights, so noon was our usual time to rise.) Unfortunately I have a reputation as a practical joker, so this didn’t work so well. “Yeah, yeah, what do you really want?” I heard over and over. I switched to the strategy, “Just turn on any TV channel right now and then come to work as soon as you can.” The room filled up quickly. We worked nonstop for the next day and a half. It was a terrible time, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. I was with my family.
Next time there’s a disaster, or a moon landing, or a princess death, or an impeachment, or a war, or a dog driving a car down the freeway, I won’t be there. I’ll just be a spectator. That’s a hard thing to fathom.
I had the incredible good luck to work with some of the best journalists money couldn’t buy, the best boss I’ve ever had despite his misguided loyalty to Ohio State football, a sister I had never known existed, and a group of people throughout the building who shared my intense pride. I will carry their memories forever.
Like life, we had fun. Damn, we had fun. My friend Carlo said this week that the hardest part of leaving is knowing that he’ll never have another job that’s as much fun as this one. He’s right.
I mourn not just for us, but for our newspaper. I was there when it was born, I’ll be there when it dies. I love this paper and it’s just so sad to see it go. I’ll cry in the newsroom like a little girl while we’re putting out that last edition. I won’t care.
But life goes on. And ends. If work is a metaphor for life, it was a great life indeed. I wouldn’t trade the memories for the world.
It’s just so hard to die.