In an odd twist of fate, it was my turn at work to write the rotating column for Friday – my last day at work. Despite the fact that I submitted it on time, the folks at the newspaper decided not to run my article. I’m both proud and sad that my official goodbye wasn’t fit for print. The pictures weren’t part of what I submitted, but they should’ve been.
If you’re reading this, I’m already gone. If you’re not reading this, I’m still gone, but I’m also offended you didn’t find my column to be worth your time. Thanks a lot, jerk.
Friday was my last day as a reporter, and it also happened to be the deadline for this article. I am now a former journalist, a designation held by many prestigious figures at local homeless shelters and brothels. Journalism is one of those fields you enter when you think you can make the world a better place and leave when you realize you can make your own world better simply by getting a different job. In terms of the raw altruism required, working for a newspaper is kind of like doing a stint in the Peace Corps, only the hours are worse and everybody hates you.
|Part of the morale problem at work might be related to the less-than-cheerful scenery surrounding the employee entrance. Most of Schindler’s List was actually filmed in this alley.|
Looking back, I’m not sure why I decided to be a reporter. When it comes to making major life choices, the sheer selfishness of my decision-making process is admirably consistent. I suspect I chose that field because I can’t work with my hands and I’m bad at math. That limited my realistic job opportunities to journalism and kickboxing. I went for the one with the better 401(k) plan, but unfortunately there weren’t any kickboxing leagues hiring at the time.
I didn’t take many flying kicks to the head in my time as a reporter, but I did occasionally have to learn, which was just as painful. One of the first bits of knowledge I acquired was that reporters are people, too. They just happen to be wicked, twisted people full of biases and secret agendas. I didn’t understand this until it was carefully explained to me on a daily basis by e-mails from angry readers. In my one year as a full-time journalist, I was accused of being a liberal, conservative, smoking proponent, smoking opponent, hog farm fan, anti-hog farm zealot and incredibly handsome human being. I never actually received an e-mail about the last one, but statistically speaking one or more readers had to be thinking it. I’m less ugly in real life than I appear in the picture at the top of this column, if only marginally.
This is the point where I should plead for readers to treat reporters decently, but I haven’t helped anybody with my articles in the past 12 months and it seems kind of misguided to try to start now. Writing, like any drug, is best enjoyed when done recreationally. I’ll continue to update my Web site, but I don’t have any plans to write professionally in the future. It’s time for me to grow up and focus on a more traditional career path, like professional kickboxing.
James Breakwell is currently trying to get his big break on the Midwestern kickboxing circuit. He can be reached at email@example.com.
James would have finished this article sooner, but he was too busy conspiring against you and everyone you love.