He who was once immortal, is no more.

March 17, 2009

I was.

I was once . . .

Younger.

Thinner.

Optimistic.

Fearless.

Employed.

High school athletics had been ignored for years before I was hired as the sports editor of the Langley Times in 1989. When the sports section is a one-man show, that one man gets to decide what fills the limited space alloted for each edition.

I made my own choices. I had no ties to community soccer or Junior A hockey or the old boys rugby union. But I did attend Langley Secondary. My parents live near Brookswood Secondary. I could relate to high school athletes if only because I was never one myself. Unless, of course, you count my football career with the Saints, which lasted for one play and approximately 30 seconds. While I never did score the winning touchdown, I did score one of the team’s large lockers in the study hall, designated to store all that bulky equipment that would never be used.

At the paper, I quickly became a champion of high school sports, to the point where the occasional action shot actually made it onto Page 1. Front page, baby! Full process color! Top of the world, ma!

There were times, I admit, when I sat in the stands in another gymnasium, watching another game, working another hour I would never be paid for, missing another meal at home, when I wondered if I’d still be hanging around high schools when I was 65. Would I segue from covering the children of my fellow LSS graduates to covering their grandchildren?

Now, thanks to the global recession, I no longer need worry about that. That’s because I can no longer find work as a journalist.

Granted, some of that is my own doing. I chose to leave The Times at the beginning of the century to embark on something we once called the Damn the Pension World Tour.

In the early, heady, fun days, Viking Woman and I used that expression in jest . We’re no longer laughing.

Newspapers are dying. Falling to their knees and keeling over in front of me. Those left on the field of combat are staggering and wounded, bleeding jobs from every orifice. Because no one is advertising. Because no one wants to pay for news they can read for free on the Internet. Because no one under 25 can read words that are spelled out using all their letters.

I live in a one-newspaper town where the newspaper isn’t hiring. Twenty years of interviews and stories and page layouts and headlines and movie reviews and late nights and coffee stains on my ties and fingerprints worn off on keyboards and tears shed on deadlines, and now I’m . . . what? A dinosaur. A fossil. A dusty artifact of the 20th century.

Reduced to looking for Help Wanted signs at Starbucks and United Video and the supermarket.

The time I once spent polishing meaningful prose—prose I was paid handsomely to produce— is now taken up by this blog. Effort that earns me zero cash and, if I’m lucky, maybe a couple dozen unique visits. On a good day.

There was a point—quite recently, actually—where I could at least take some small comfort in the fact I’d enjoyed a good run. Twenty years: Millions of words. Thousands of bylines. Hundreds of photos. Some people never get that. Some people work their entire lives and go into the ground having left no mark at all in the world to mark their existence.

But my name will live forever , bound into the books in which back issues of the Langley Times are archived. Books with red covers. With hard covers. Books to be kept forever.

And then comes word that, during a recent shift, someone hired for the day to clean out junk inadvertently placed several of those red books in a Dumpster.

Now my words, my thoughts, my opinions reside in a landfill, buried deep in a rubbish tip. The pages pulped and mashed. The ink streaked. The photos blurred. My bylines smeared.

I was once  . . .

Immortal.

I am no more.

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One Response to “He who was once immortal, is no more.”

  1. Megan said

    it will get better. I am working on it.

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