For a pretty good while last Thursday night, those two words were the only ones on the computer screen in front of me.
I’d even joked about a plan to simply leave this column blank except the above words and ride off into the proverbial sunset.
Since I turned in my notice weeks ago, I have thought about what I’d say should I have the opportunity to write a column in this space for a final time.
Until last Thursday night, the night before my final deadline, I put off writing it.
There are some things even a writer has a hard time putting into words.
One of those things is how to properly thank two people who years ago took a big chance on me, a college kid with cerebral palsy whose biggest accomplishment in writing at the time was a contest-winning essay about Anastasia written while I was a student at Pinedale Elementary School.
They trusted me to work at their newspaper. They didn’t have to, but I’m really glad they did because I would have failed my internship class had they not.
More importantly, I wouldn’t have the wealth of invaluable experiences I gained while I worked for them.
During my time at The Southeast Sun/Daleville Sun-Courier, I was fortunate to learn from editors who cared enough to make sure I didn’t make a fool of myself in print every week.
When I first started my journalism journey, I’m sure it took multiple red pens to mark all of the mistakes in one of my stories.
Gradually, there were fewer mistakes and fewer red marks. I progressed only because they were patient. I learned only because they took the time to teach me.
I could never thank them enough.
I worked with the best writers anyone could ever ask to work with. I have learned so much from them and grown so much because of them. I consider it an honor to have shared a newsroom with every one of them, past and present. I am thankful they let me into their lives.
I had the privilege to work with several sports writers in my role as sports editor. They taught me much more than I ever taught them. I want to thank them for their efforts. I hope they continue to follow their dreams. I hope they know there are no limits to what they can accomplish, and I hope they know I am proud of them.
I worked with the greatest designers, layout artists and photographers I have ever seen.
I am continually awed by their work, and I am forever grateful for all of their help.
When I was a rookie news reporter, I worried a lot. Every week, I worried I’d never be able to find enough stories to fill the pages of the paper. Every week, I worried I typed too slowly. I had to look at the keyboard, and my left hand worked just well enough to press keys at a snail’s pace. Every week, I worried I wouldn’t get done by deadline, and every week I told the layout artist who put my stories on the page as much. Every week she simply said, “It will always work out.”
She was never wrong. It always worked out.
If it were not for a photographer who learned to design pages, I would have fallen flat on my face when I became the sports editor.
I am a procrastinator. She is a planner. The sports section got done each week because she met me at my desk every Monday and made sure we were on the same page. She offered suggestions and ideas. She made the paper better, and she made me better.
I am incredibly appreciative of our salespeople. Thank you for making sure I got a paycheck. Thank you for all of the food and things you all brought in, including my recent parting pound cake. Thank you for filling the front of our building with laughter, which I could hear all the way from my desk toward the back.
Thank you to all of the receptionists who’ve been there to greet me when I walked in the door over the years. Thank you for taking my lunch in from my truck, taking the time to talk with me every day and listen when I needed to step away from the computer screen.
Thank you to those in circulation and to the carriers for your hard work, and for diligently delivering the paper. Without all of you, my job would have been pointless.
Thank you to the storyteller who cleaned around my desk, the messiest desk in human history, for always taking the time to talk. When you write stories for a living, sometimes it’s nice to hear one.
I have been blessed with so many great coworkers, and I will always consider all of them my friends.
Thank you to my friends and family, who have listened to me and provided inspiration when I needed it.
Thank you to all the people, coaches, principals, administrators, teachers, athletic directors, faculty, staff, parents, students, athletes, broadcasters, elected officials, law enforcement officers, emergency responders, recreation department personnel, statisticians, other media members and everyone who went out of their way to help me or answer even one of my endless questions.
You deserve endless credit for all you do. You are the reasons I was able to do my job, and I appreciate you.
There aren’t many people who get to say they drank from the Dr. Pepper fountain at SEC Media Days and nearly choked when they asked an SEC football coach a question on TV?
There aren’t many people who can say their job took them from watching movies about imaginary superheroes to talking with military members who literally helped save the world.
Thank you to all who have read my stories, or shared your stories with me and trusted me to help tell them.
God bless you. He sure has blessed me.
I’ve met a lot of good people, made a lot of good friends and told a lot of good stories in my years at The Southeast Sun/Daleville Sun-Courier.
Now I’m off to enjoy the sunset.