Performer: Pearl Jam
Songwriter: Eddie Vedder
Original Release: Riot Act
Definitive Version: None
When I decided to leave The Dispatch, I decided to put the tumult of the past year behind me and be a model employee for the rest of 2002.
I fired off no dismissive emails; I kept my mouth shut; I did what Horace, Rob and Barb told me to do when they told me to do it without delay. Even though we didn’t have a hard start time as long as it was in the neighborhood of 3 p.m., I was at work everyday by 3. If someone was needed to work a weekend, I volunteered.
Part of this was some long overdue professionalism on my part, but it also was because of a little scheme I put forth: I was going to make my bosses—Horace and Rob most particularly—miss me when I left.
The funny thing is when I did this, I stopped hating work as much. There is something to be said for the positive value of self-respect. I’m sure it also had to do with the fact that I knew I had an exit strategy. I could suck it up and do this, because it was short term—and I was eager to embark on my new life. (Of course, having a social crew, as well as a writing gig that I loved—more on that later—helped, too.)
I don’t know that my actual work got any better, but the perception of it by others improved as a result—well, the perception of it by my peers, anyway. It’s not as though the bosses paid any attention. They hadn’t in the previous five years since the coup. Why start now?
Like every newspaper in the world, The Dispatch had (has?) internal awards: best headline, story of the week, that kind of thing. I started being nominated for a few of my headlines, which then were noted in a weekly newsletter.
In March, The Dispatch held (holds?) a week of seminars called Clinic that concludes with a luncheon at the publisher’s rural compound. I never went, mostly because the seminars were held during times that were for the benefit of the big bosses and reporters—the morning. The luncheon was on a Saturday, and I either had to work or wanted to spend it with Debbie. Besides, I never was nominated for an annual award, or Eddy, which was voted on by fellow employees and handed out at the final Clinic event.
Well, in 2002, I was nominated for best news headline writer, with two entries out of six in the semifinalists. When it was pared down to three finalists, both of my entries remained. (Chuck had the other one, ensuring a Business victory.) During Clinic week, it was announced that I had been named the Best Headline Writer for 2003.
So I went to my one—and only—Clinic. I felt obligated. Going showed me without reservation that I hadn’t missed anything in the previous nine years, except the ability to show that I could suck up as well as anyone else at the paper. But when I was handed my engraved block of Lucite, I felt great. I had achieved my goal, which is the goal of any performer—always leave them wanting more.