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Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Miles to go before I get pulled over
I've been fired, I've quit, I've been downsized, restructured, laid off, yelled at, cursed, thanked, congratulated, transferred sideways so many times you'd think I was on a merry go round. In 46 years in the newspaper business since I landed a part time job as a copyboy at the New York Post when I was 17 years old and a freshman at the City College of New York, I've sharpened pencils, made coffee, distributed galley proofs, read upside down, written headlines, corrected grammar, saved countless reporters from getting their pants sued off, gotten one newspaper's pants sued off (they should have fought but it was cheaper to settle), hell, it's like preventing terrorism, only the ones that slip through the security measures get noticed. I've Hemingwayed a thousand run-on sentences, called hundreds of reporters in the middle of the night to tell them there's a hole in their story big enough to bounce a beachball through. Did I mention I've made up a verb or two along the way and mangled the English language in a thousand different headlines? There's one thing I've never done until this week ... retired.
Make that semi-retired. That's the way I see it. Bad financial judgment over the years led me to put in for early Social Security at the age of 63 and for every buck I earn above a certain amount I have to pay a penalty, so I decided to cut back on my hours. I was sure the publisher of the newspaper I work for would take it hard, since I did everything I could the last two and a half years to make myself indispensible, but when I asked to cut back on my hours his eyes lit up. The paper isn't going to replace me, will no longer be saddled with the cost of my health insurance, and my colleagues will have to pick up the slack, so why shouldn't he be happy.
He's happy. I'm happy. If a day or two of overtime gets thrown into the mix my colleagues will be happy. What's wrong with this picture? I'll tell you what's wrong. If I don't do something to head it off at the pass, my friend Victor is going to send me a comment saying "Congratulations on your retirement." And I'm going to have to correct him and say "Semi-retirement."
The fact is, it's time to devote more time to my second career as the second coming of Studs Turkel. And to collect my thoughts on the fine art of writing headlines and finish that semi instructional, semi autobiographical book I always wanted to write under the title of this blog. Uh oh. I think I hear the dinner bell tolling. It's tolling for me. I toll you so.