Today is a sad day, dear Manhattanites. This is the last day you’ll get to open the Sunday Mercury and read one of my columns. If you haven’t heard, I’m leaving next week for a new job in North Carolina. Consider this my goodbye to a community that became a home over the last two years.
This came as a surprise to me, too. I didn’t even apply to this new job — a copy editor position at a larger publishing company. I received an email out of the blue from a woman whose former co-worker forwarded my resume to her. She said she was impressed and asked if I would be interested in this new opportunity.
I was skeptical at first; things like this don’t happen to me. I thought surely this must be some new type of scam since the whole Nigerian prince thing has been done to death. Upon a thorough Google search, I found that the company she purported to represent was in fact real and located in a very beautiful part of the country.
Still a little hesitant, I said I was interested and sent her some work samples. I didn’t hear anything for a week or so but felt fine about it. If it was a scam, all she got from me were a couple PDFs of business and religion pages, which aren’t worth much. Well, they are to the people who send in information for those pages. I know that because when I screw up, (I mean, I’m good, but everyone makes mistakes) I never hear the end of it.
Just as I was preparing myself to let go of the Tar Heel State, I got a call. Three days later I was accepting my new job. After that conversation, I started to think about when I first moved out here. I was struck with similar feelings. I was excited, but also nervous. Could I not only do, but also excel at, what I’ll be asked to do?
When I came here, I had the same worry. My specialty is arts and entertainment, which you might have gathered based on all the movie feature pages I’ve written. Being asked to write about government was like being asked to assemble a cabinet from Ikea: I was pretty sure I had all the parts to put it together, but I just knew there would be one wingnut missing in the end.
I didn’t know a city manager from a city controller, but I like to think I picked up on things quickly. My editor, Bill Felber, said I seemed to have a natural aptitude for government writing. It might not seem like it, but that’s a hell of a compliment coming from a warm and fuzzy guy like Felber.
But I would like to thank Felber, the Seatons and everyone at the Mercury for giving me the experience necessary to move on. They never sugar-coated anything and told me what I needed to do and what I needed to stop doing. Plus, I was paid to do some pretty fun things I wouldn’t have done otherwise.
In my time reporting at the Mercury I have sat in the cockpit of a $36 million Apache helicopter; interviewed a professional bowler, Norm Duke; gone to midnight showings of two Harry Potter movies and one Twilight movie; and participated in a “No-Shave November” competition.
My time in Manhattan has been more than work, though. I have met some great friends. As co-senior writer, Bryan Richardson has been the Turk to my J.D. That’s a “Scrubs” reference, by the way. Google it and you’ll understand. A former reporter, Paul Harris, was our third musketeer. Of course I can’t mention Paul without mentioning Jeff Burkhart, Drew Bartlett and John Kurz who needed little to no convincing to grab a drink or catch a game in Aggieville.
Then there are my co-workers Katie Wartell, Maura Wery, Megan Moser, Sarah Midgorden and Corene Brisendine who have some how managed to put up with my sarcasm and incessant discussion of TV shows, movies and albums they couldn’t care less about.
We’ve had some great times, including Paul riding the mechanical bull at Chuggers, watching the Oscars as Bryan and I facetiously cheered on “War Horse,” Fake Patty’s Day, Megan’s wedding, a Fourth of July cookout, Halloween and the company Christmas party. Especially the company Christmas party. I’d like to thank the Seatons for those parties and to say I’m sorry that I, in large part, was responsible for the untimely demise of a bottle of Glenfiddich at the last one.
Last, but certainly not least, there are the audacious and always hilarious ladies I play trivia with at Auntie Mae’s: Nikki Marcotte, Bre Tatro and Anna Knackstedt. Wednesday nights won’t be the same without you. A special thanks goes to the lovely Anna, who has organized a number of going away events for me during the last two weeks.
So with a heavy heart, I say goodbye. I will miss this place.