By DAVID MAY
Hope Inc. Executive Director Lisa Huffaker came into my office a few days before the recent gala asking if I had saved any photos from previous galas she could have copies of.
I spun around in my chair to the desk behind my desk and pulled open the top left-hand drawer. I looked inside and it hit me. The last 10-1/2 years of life – one fifth of my lifetime – were essentially burned to disk, labeled, placed into CD jewel boxes and stored generally in chronological order.
I was looking at nearly 200 compact discs containing the stories, photographs, special sections and more comprising the coverage of local events and people in the time I have been privileged to serve as the editor of your newspaper. Wow, 10-1/2 years. That’s roughly 126 months, or 3,800 days give or take. I won’t calculate the hours, minutes or seconds. I’ve produced around 2,600 editions of the Index in that span. A long time, all archived and stacked into one desk drawer for me to peer into and wonder how that much time could have gone by so fast.
Back in 2002 I was in need of a new job and direction. A previous decade-plus in journalism left me with a little burnout and a burning desire to look at other opportunities where I could put my skills to work outside of newspapers. That came with mixed success – I made more money for a few years but went through layoffs, corporate merger downsizing and a start up failure. Every time I had built up a nice savings, I had to use it to survive periods of unemployment.
I was a technical documentation editor for a telecommunications software company in Plano when that industry turned upside down in 2001. I was in the first wave of layoffs in August that year. I thought, OK, I’ve been through this a couple of times recently. I’ll find another job. A few weeks later 9/11 happened. The country was thrown into turmoil, and companies quit hiring. I knew it was going to be a long layoff this time.