Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Parting ways with a room temperature I.Q.

I haven’t had a lot of jobs in my life.

I worked 33 years for the company that published The Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star – most of that time for The News, which I still contend was the superior paper despite its circulation and eventual demise.

Since I took early retirement from The Star 11 years ago this month (possibly to be discussed here later), I’ve done part-time and fill-in jobs for papers where my wife was the managing editor.

Four years ago today is the only time in my working life that I’ve been fired from a job. And it was a firing I welcomed.

Maria had already begun working for a paper here in Arkansas, but I was helping her successor at the Indiana paper by working as a night copy editor and obit writer.

Her successor was an arrogant twit who was conspicuously jealous and envious of Maria’s achievements at the paper. He figured out she was an impossible act to follow and thus went out of his way to ridicule some of her best work, in particular two extra sections we published in the wake of a major downtown business district fire that killed a young man who lived in an upstairs apartment that burned.

It didn’t take me long to take his measure as a journalist. Editing his attempts at editorials and columns and noticing his misuse of words made it apparent that he was out of his depth.

He was clearly uneasy around me, largely because my presence reminded him of Maria and likely because he knew that I recognized him for the poser that he was.

I walked off the job four years ago last night after I discovered that someone (I know who did it and bear no grudge) had switched computer mice with me, leaving me with a defective mouse that caused my antique Mac to crash repeatedly. I had a house full of furniture and other stuff to pack for Arkansas and I didn’t need the aggravation of trying to work with crippled equipment.

It gave the new editor the opportunity to get rid of me.

But rather than having the courage to deal with me face-to-face, he chose to do it the next day by voicemail, saying he felt we should, as he put it, “part ways.”

I was amused and relieved.

He and the paper have since “parted ways” and he has moved on.

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