Didnâ€™t think youâ€™d be rid of me that easily, didja?
Iâ€™m finding retiring to be a difficult bit of work.
First, it was not easy finding the â€œoffâ€ switch. Instead, it seems I am powered through a dimmer switch.
So, instead of turning it off on Friday, my last official day as editor of the Langley Advance and Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows TIMES, I just cranked the dimmer switch down as low as it would go.
(Yeah, I know, I heard you at the back over there: â€œI didnâ€™t think he could get much dimmer!â€)
From now on, at least for the time being, penning my Odd Thoughts constitutes a weekâ€™s work. I am now committed to spending a hard hour or so every week at my keyboard (sometimes â€“ but rarely â€“ as little as 20 minutes, if the muse is hot).
All that is to satisfy the plaintive cries of readers who professed they would be lost without my maundering thoughts to guide them through harder bits of lifeâ€™s little bumps and turns.
Or maybe itâ€™s to satisfy the writerâ€™s ego that was threatening to curl up and die within me.
Did those people really call out to me, begging for the generous dollops of wisdom that I am wont to spew forth â€“ or was what I heard just one of the hamsters scratching about in the nether cracks and crannies of my brain after escaping from its wheel and losing its way?
In any case, it was tremendously easy to agree to continue filling this space from time to time, solely as an opinionated old sod masquerading as a newspaper columnist.
What was far harder was clearing my office of the junk that had piled up through 38 years of reporting, photographing, editing, and whatever else I might have done in all that time.
It didnâ€™t seem like it had been all that long… until I started opening the files and the drawers â€“ and the drawers of files â€“ filled with accumulated memories.
Some of the memories were found in boxes that had not been touched in more than a decade.
One of my favourite boxes contained trinkets and doodads that PR flaks used to attach to their press releases, partly as bribes and partly just to get my attention (and that of the dozens of other editors who received similar packages).
Most of the stuff was really ridiculous: a plastic yellow bowling pin, a foam rubber locomotive, a sealed beer can filled with air (Iâ€™m thinking it was probably air, as it was far too light to be filled with beer, but I never opened it, because then it would have become just another empty beer can).
If all the boxes and drawers and file cabinets were filled with that kind of junk, clearing out the office would have been easy: just throw it all in the dumpster and be done with it.
But it doesnâ€™t work that way.
There were letters and cards, the most touching ones, culled from the many people who thanked me for… what?… really just doing my job over the past few decades.
But I must admit that it was a rewarding job, and those cards and letters â€“ and the phone calls that work like ambrosia on the brains cells â€“ are proof of the rewards.
That, of course, reminds me of some of the other phone calls and cards and letters (and threats of lawsuits), saved because they were instructive of the needs and sensibilities of people in the community, reminders of the gravity of the editorâ€™s position and responsibilities.
And others were saved because they were so ridiculous that theyâ€™re still good for a laugh.
Itâ€™s all history now, some of it saved for posterity, most of it buried in time.
Read Matthew Claxtonâ€™s Painful Truth online this week at langleyadvance.com