As I write this, I do so during my final 16-or-so hours as a full-time employee of the Tooele Transcript Bulletin. I’ve taken a Public Relations Coordinator position at the Salt Lake County Library Services and will start next Tuesday.
I’ll be sad to leave the sports desk, where I’ve rarely felt like I’ve done any actual work since it’s been so much fun to watch sports on the clock.
The Transcript Bulletin was the only newspaper bold enough to hire me as a big-ego kid who was still a week away from a journalism degree. I thought I knew everything after three years on the editorial board in various editing positions at Utah State University’s campus newspaper.
David Bern, the editor here, told me a year or two into my career that it was an easy decision to hire me because of one phone call we shared that I barely remember.
During my junior year, I was facing a move from the coveted sports desk at The Utah Statesman to the second-most sucky job as News Editor — taking one for the team to help rejuvenate the talent in the most important section of the newspaper.
Bern called The Statesman in the thick of one of our deadline nights, and I was the only one who wasn’t too busy to answer the call. He was looking to fill a vacancy of some sort and wondered if we had any hotshots close to graduating. He said he respected the way I took the time to help him out while under pressure of getting my own work done on time. Apparently it was the No. 1 reason he interviewed and hired me in late April of 2014.
I hope I’m always so helpful without any visible quid-pro-quo.
Working as Sports Editor has been good to me. I’ve been able to work with almost total autonomy and flexible hours, as long as those hours coincided with scheduled game times in the afternoon and evening.
The job is nearly perfect. While I realize I’m in the position where I don’t actually have to leave, I’m a little envious of soon-to-be-Sports Editor Darren Vaughan, who will be taking my place in the newsroom. It was that perceived perfection in the job description that allowed me to be so picky when looking for other employment.
As I searched, I frequently referred to famed cartoonist Bill Watterson’s commencement speech delivered to his alma mater at Kenyon College in Ohio. In it, Watterson placed emphasis on the importance of play in a career that demands creativity. He talked about the importance of creativity being present in any job he ever actually enjoyed.
“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement,” Watterson said. “In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”
I know myself. I know taking a job just to make a lot more money would bring the wrath of Watterson’s “rude shock to see just how empty and robotic life can be when you don’t care about what you’re doing.” So I didn’t; I set a list of specific criteria I wanted my new, higher-paying job to have, and I went out and found something that checks all the boxes.
I doubt the famed creator of Calvin and Hobbes would ever call me in a search for a potential employee like Bern did those five years ago. But I am sure he’d be pleased with my pickiness in the job search and decision to work at the library.
Tavin Stucki was a sportswriter from Midvale, Utah, who owns multiple copies of every Calvin and Hobbes anthology. Send any well-wishes to his Twitter account @TavinReadsBooks.