When I turned 15, I got a job as a dishwasher at an East Texas seafood restaurant. The hours were 5 to 10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.
I turned 35 last week, meaning I’ve been part of the U.S. work force for 20 years.
And I’ve never had a 9-to-5 job.
Waiter: worked nights. Gas station clerk: graveyard shifts. Hotel desk clerk: the hours varied and included some graveyard shifts. I got into newspapers at 23, meaning for the past 12 years, I’ve worked mornings, nights, weekends, holidays and leap year days.
That’s always been the hardest part of this career I love, but now that I’m a dad of a toddler and a kid due any second now, the crazy hours have taken their toll.
Hence, this announcement.
Next week will mark my last as the editor of The Sanford Herald. After four years and five months, I’m joining Campbell University to become its assistant director of publications.
It’s a great opportunity, and one that will allow “normal” hours … the kind Dolly Parton sings about. With young children, it’s the perfect fit for me.
But it’s bittersweet as well. I’m leaving a job I love, a paper I love and a newsroom I love. For those of you sad to see me go, be happy I’ll still be living in Sanford and will hope to contribute to The Herald down the line. For those of you happy to see me go … well, I suppose this is good news.
I’ve still got at least one column as editor remaining, and with a boy due by Wednesday (the docs have marked the date), I’ll save the final “good-bye” to then. I’d rather fill the second half of this column by thanking the amazing people I’ve worked with the past 53 months.
Thank you to my boss, Bill Horner III, for convincing me to move to North Carolina, where I’ve grown to love this state and have since planted roots with not one but two children born in the Tar Heel State. And thank you for trusting me with a paper that’s been in your family for decades … I think we did some good.
To those I once worked with — Gordon Anderson, Chelsea Kellner, Alex Podlogar, Randy Quis, Brooke Wolfe, Ryan Sarda, Ashley Garner, Caitlin Mullen, Justin Story, Jamie Stamm, Kevin Degon, Erin Zureick, Marie Webster, David Anderson, Kim Edwards, Katelyn Holshouser, Cassidy Culbertson, Faith Swymer (and of course everyone in advertising, classifieds and other departments) — thank you for your part in producing a newspaper this community should be proud of. I respect and appreciate all of you.
To those I still work with — Wesley Beeson, Alexa Milan, Judy McNeill, Billy Ball, Jennifer Gentile and (of course) R.V. Hight — the paper has enjoyed a lot of success this past year, thanks in large part to you. Our experience covering the tornado will be something I never forget.
And finally to Jonathan Owens, who along with R.V., has been here all 53 months with me. You’re a hell of a journalist and an even better friend. Thank you for everything.
Fifty-three months and approximately 1,166 newspapers (give or take 20). There’s no question I’ll always love The Sanford Herald.