January 18, 2018

Gideon Goes to the Dark Side . . . by Gideon Noire

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“Farewell has a sweet sound of reluctance. Good-by is short and final, a word with teeth sharp to bite through the string that ties past to the future.” John Steinbeck

“It’s the emptiest and yet the fullest of all human messages: ‘Good-bye.” Kurt Vonnegut

“Sleep tight, ya morons!” J.D. Salinger

All great writers have dealt with the sadness of saying good bye. Even the greatest of them all, the late Bill Shakespeare, took a swing at it (“Parting is such sweet sorrow”). The fact is, when it comes your time—when it’s your turn to ride off into the sunset—there is no good way to go about it. A dozen years after the Excentric’s former Cottonwood Guy, some schlep named Stave Ayers, slipped out the back (Jack!) of the editorial office, closely followed by a red-head, a baby bump and a process server, I have had the dubious responsibility of making sense out of the weird and wonderful world, from Cornville south.

But the time has come to move on. Make no mistake about it, I have loved every minute of it. And what writer worth his $1.79 an hour plus tips and the occasional chicken wing, wouldn’t. Baja Sedona is a reporter’s paradise. Filled with hacks, hucksters and reprobates of every description, it is a feast for anyone with a modicum of curiosity and an unhealthy skepticism. The political winds are foul more often than fresh and a smoke-filled, backroom haze hangs low even on a clear day.

Notebooks fill fast with the witless quips of dull and haggard politicians and scandal flows with the spring floods. The bucolic burgs of Rottonwood, Clark Town, Jeremy and my sentimental favorite, Camp Ditty, have never left me at a loss for words. It may get a little slow after elections, but most of what emerges in their wake heads downhill—and fast. The biggest challenge I ever had had was getting to the bottom of the hill before it did. Whoever Sir Rudolph chooses to fill my chair will have plenty of bilge to pump and, if my advice is taken seriously, invest a decent pair of track shoes.

But, as I said before, it’s time to move on. The reality of my profession has come to roost. My credit cards are maxed out. Esmeralda and I haven’t made a mortgage payment in eight months and the Affordable Care Act will soon force me to cover my Viagra.
It is a little known fact that unless you rise to a level where you can rest your hand on Katie Couric’s knee—as you explain as best you can why the National Parks are shuttered again—you aren’t going to make much money as a journalist.

My brother-in-law, the one who wears his pants around his ankles and can no longer hold his head level after years of fidgeting on his cell phone, is paid more than I am, working as a “barista” at Starbucks. In fact he makes more than any front line reporter, with the notable exception of the lovely young intern who takes Sir Rudolph his morning coffee (two creams, okay sugar?). It’s no wonder so many good reporters leave the profession and turn to honest work in places like…say…the gov’ment, in order to make ends meet.

In the lexicon of journalists the world over, I am going to the dark side. I got a gov’ment job. Starting next month, I will begin working at the Sedona wastewater treatment plant. I figure after all the foul things I had been forced to wade through over the last 12 years; I am eminently qualified to deal any crap that comes my way.

For the record, it pays $47.50 an hour, which is slightly more than 26.5 times my current wage (less tips and chicken wings).
But enough about my good fortune—I just wanted to say good bye—which like everything I have ever done, takes more time than necessary.
Lacking any innate talent or the ability to gracefully excuse myself, I will rely on my childhood pals, Roy and Dale, to say it for me:

Happy trails to you, until we meet again.
Some trails are happy ones, others are blue.
It’s the way you ride the trail that counts, Here’s a happy one for you.

Until we meet again, naked and vulnerable and swinging through the trees.

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