Journalism, Me Myself and Ty

Ironic detachment

Most of you probably don’t remember my time as a resident advisor with N.C. State’s University Housing.

It was my junior year and I was basically offered the job without ever having applied. I saw it as a way to subsidize my college costs through free housing (albeit on-campus) and a meal plan, but in actuality it was my first job outside of babysitting and a quick two-day stint helping Rosewood Hardware with some inventory.

So I went to the three-hour staff meetings and planned programs that no one wanted to attend. I honestly did enjoy the work because it was all people-oriented, but that was all before I went out in what Tim has described as “a flaming ball of technicality.”

That’s not to say I didn’t raise some serious hell as an RA. I notified my residents of every RA rove cycle to minimize their chances of getting caught skateboarding in the halls and let them know whenever we had our mandatory meetings, always leaving them with instructions that usually amounted to “burn the place down.”

And then came my 21st birthday. This is the biggun that I spoke so highly of in a post last October. At the end of the scavenger hunt and the Orioles cake, we all went to Hi 5 off of Glenwood South, mostly because I was the only 21-year-old among my friends and we had to find a place where everyone could get in.

My first drink was a rum and coke. My second was a Magic Hat #9, but that all faded into a series of beers, liquor shots and Smirnoff Ices (Remember, we were all alcohol novices at this point) before we went to sleep. The issue? The latter of those drinks were all consumed in my resident advisor dorm room in a dry dormitory.

It should be noted that my birthday often falls on Fall Break, just as it did that year. There were only two residents on my hall that night and one of them slid an anonymous letter under my supervisor’s door. You’d think every 21-year-old would be allowed to get toasted on his or her special night, but my first legal night of a heightened BAC led to me being put on probation. It was a “one more chance” type moment, so when I was late with some paperwork in February, I was “terminated.”

But, as I often do, I fell bass ackards (Eastern N.C. term) into something better. I took the position at Technician that Housing was holding me back from (News Editor) and parlayed that into the Editor-in-Chief gig.

Fast-Forward another year to Jan. 19, when I was “suspended” from my position at Technician (More about that in a future post) and I fell, bass ackards again, into a position with the Garner Citizen where I could actually be paid better than an indentured servant.

As Sports Editor I had a lot of fun running the section and even won a couple of awards for column-writing and feature story writing, but after I graduated, I realized it was time for something more permanent and full-timey.

Now we come to February, again, when what could, at best, be called a “misunderstanding” led to the Executive Editor at the Citizen to give my job, that I still held, to someone else. He thought I was leaving to take a job as a teacher (In February? Really?) but I ended up finding a bass ackards way to turn it into a raise. Yay, me!

But then I bass ackardsly landed a general assignment reporting job with the Goldsboro News-Argus. Yay! More money and benefits at a newspaper with six times the readership of the Citizen – but what made it even better was knowing that, for once, I had hand.

I was going to march in for the first time ever and tell an employer that it wasn’t him, it was me. I had found a better option and was taking it. I was calling it off. I was the breaker upper, and leaving on my own. It was going to be glorious.

So I called ahead to make sure Barry was in. The phone went straight to the Citizen’s after hours voicemail, which was strange because it was 3 p.m. No matter, though, so I headed to Garner.

When I walked up to the door, it was locked. No biggie. They lock it when they head to lunch, though it was awfully late for a lunch. Rachel came to the door and let me in, closing and locking the door behind me.

“Are we on lockdown mode, or something?” I asked jokingly. “Sorta,” she said.

Puzzled, I went into Amy’s office, where she looked at me like a cow looks at an oncoming train.

Finally, I asked “What’s going on around here?”

Then she told me: the paper is shutting down, effective today.

Yes, I had another job lined up, but I was pissed. No one knew anything about it until that morning at a meeting I was too hungover to attend and now the people I had grown closest to at the Citizen were all going to be unemployed with student loans. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t funny.

But throughout the day as we put together plans for our last paper and watched Charlie Sheen videos to keep our sanity, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Again I had been robbed of my ability to leave a job on my own.

So as I begin this newest chapter in my journalism career as a reporter at the Argus, I’m soaking up every ounce of knowledge I can and delving into my beat (city government) with no convictions.

But, deep down, I can’t help but wonder how this chapter will end…will it be with my forced termination or the paper’s going under?

Here’s to journalism.

Links of interest:
Barry’s column from one week before announcing the paper will close. Notice how he calls out each of our competitors, (Garner-Clayton Record and Garner News) one of them by name. Now notice that those two publications still exist.

The Garner Citizen Obituary By Amy Townsend:  In my opinion, some of the finest creative writing ever.

Barry’s column where he explains why he’s stopping the presses (And seemingly thanks everyone in the staff box except for his Sports Editor).

My first ever farewell column.

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3 thoughts on “Ironic detachment

  1. I have to give you credit for at least sticking out in journalism. I gave up on it because I couldn’t discern a reasonable future, but I still miss it and wish I could figure out the best way to work my way out of politics and back to reporting. You’re still in the industry, which is a lot more than a lot of people can say.

    Good luck with your new job!

  2. Rikki says:

    Yay journalism! We gotta enjoy it while we can before we have kids and mortgages!!

    Someday you’ll have a great job that you can quit!

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